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A beautiful garden in the city of Yazd, Iran (image courtesy of Afshin Deyhimpanah www.iranian.com).

A beautiful garden in the city of Yazd. See below for more pictures from the beautiful historic city of Yazd (image courtesy of Afshin Deyhimpanah http://www.iranian.com).

Dear All,

I hope you are doing well. Please publicize the information provided
through this window as widely as you can. While the information coming
out of the media here is alarming, in Iran the atmosphere is calm.
There is even hope that a joint proposal by Russia and Iran would find
a way to would to the lifting of the U.N. Sanctions and the halting of
the enrichment. Despite celebrating the anniversary of the revolution,
the Iranian government has been sending a conciliatory message
basically: give us a chance and we will negotiate.

Let me share a fun discovery I made only last week! Iranians are one
of the top ten blogger nations in the world.

With that, let us attend to our Window on Iran – 19.

Current Issues

* A chilling article Charging Iran with Genocide before Nuking it, Gary
Leupp, Professor of History at Tufts writes predicts a U.S. nuclear
strike on Iran by this April. “Within weeks from now,” he writes
quoting a Russian military analyst, “we will see the informational
warfare machine start working. The public opinion is already under
pressure. There will be a growing anti-Iranian militaristic hysteria,
new information leaks, disinformation, etc.”  My comment:  there will
be visual warfare as well using images of flag waving Iranians
celebrating the 27th anniversary of the 1979 Revolution  as proof of
national support for Ahmadinejad and evidence of mass anti-western
hysteria. Leupp’s article is available here: An Existential Threat: Charging

Iran with Genocide before Nuking It by Gary Leupp.

* All the flag waving youth will line up behind President Ahmadinejad if
there is a war on Iran. Take a look at this article in the Guardian
“Only the US hawks can save the Iranian president now” sent to me by
Jamal Rostami:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2001703,00.html

* The American Public still wants the government to directly talk with
Iran, say 71% of the Republicans and 81% , a wide ranging analysis by
WorldPublicOpinion.org of polls from numerous organizations reveals.
According to a wide range of polls, there is substantial agreement
across party lines on many of the most contentious issues facing
policy makers today:
http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/home_page/295.php?nid=&id=&pnt=295&lb=hmpg1

* Certain tendencies within the media work to change the above
consensus. An unlikely contributor to that is he History channel. On
Friday, Feb. 9, the History channel aired a program called “Iran : The
Next Iraq?” Adding disclaimers such as “perhaps” and “may be,” the
show described Iran as “perhaps  the most clear and present danger to
American security.” The program “explored” claims as laughable as
Iran’s attempt “to gain a place among the world’s super powers.” And
looked at “evidence” for Iran’s secret pursuit of a nuclear weapon
which it “may intend to use on the United States or its allies.” The
fact is that Iran is nowhere close to becoming a World’s super powers,
the IAEA reports reveal no evidence for any weapon’s program . All
they say is that the absence of such a program cannot be proven
(sounds familiar?).
* Very important: Last week, Iranian authorities arrested two al-Qa’idah
suspects who were trying to cross Iran on their way out of Pakistan.
Shouldn’t this be a positive sign?
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/09/AR2007020902294.html?referrer=emai

Finally please note that  the Iraqi government has distanced itself
fully from the American accusations against Iran’s involvement in
Iraq, the major newspaper asharqalawsat  reports (in Arabic)
http://www.asharqalawsat.com/details.asp?section=4&issue=10303&article=406005

Cultural/Social/Aristic

We all need a break from all the above, don’t we? Here is a second
slide show of the small, ancient, and beautiful city of Yazd in
central Iran. Please circulate the slide show as widely as you can.
Bleak and frightening images of Iran are distributed, to present the
country as a suitable target. Click here: Ancient and Beautiful City of Yazd. Enjoy!

Yazd architecture (image courtesy of Afshin Deyhimpanah www.iranian.com)

Yazd architecture (image courtesy of Afshin Deyhimpanah http://www.iranian.com)

d

Rakhshan Bani Etemad

Here, I have another break for you from political myth making and scare mongering: The Iranian Annual Film Festival Fajr. The award for the best director went to my favorite director, one of the grand ladies of the Iranian Cinema: Rakhshan Bani Etemad.  Bani Etemtmad is most outspoken screen writer and director whose films highlight the problems of poverty, gender, and social inequality. She became known with Nargis the story of a young girl from a disadvantaged family who got involved with a trio of two thieves and a prostitute. For slide show of the final night of the Fajr Festival, click here: Iranian Annual Film Festival Fajr.

Baran Kowsari receiving her award for best actress at the Iranian Annual Film Festival Fajr (image courtesy of Arash Khamooshi, ISNA).

Baran Kowsari receiving her award for best actress at the Iranian Annual Film Festival Fajr (image courtesy of Arash Khamooshi, ISNA).

Scientific

No, it is not about nuclear technology. On Monday February 5, Iranian Scientists at the Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Center announced the use of a new technique in treating spinal cord injuries. According to Houshang Saberi, director of the center, while in case of full paralysis the recovery has been about 15 percent, in partial injuries up to 85 percent recovery has been achieved: http://tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=2/5/2007&Cat=5&Num=001

Have a great week!

Best,
Fatemeh
===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

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Windows on Iran 16

Fin Garden in Kashan, Iran (image courtesy of Afshin Deyhim www.iranian.com).

Fin Garden in Kashan, Iran (image courtesy of Afshin Deyhim http://www.iranian.com).

Dear All,

Greetings! And Happy New Year!

Time to open a new window on Iran. I hope you have had a wonderful holiday so far. Thank you so much for all your kind messages concerning window number 15.  A combination of end of the semester duties and holiday activities have prevented me from writing
individual thank you notes.  I am most appreciative of all your responses. Please note that all the recent requests to be added to the listserv will be taken care of in the coming week.

I would like to indulge in a little holiday self promotion with a good
news!  My latest book –  a study of contemporary Persian poetry – was
just named “an outstanding academic title for the year 2006” by the
ALA’s review journal for academic and research libraries known as the
Choice Magazine. A wonderful Christmas present! The list is a small
percentage of approximately 7,000 titles. Here is the full
bibliographic information on the book:

Fatemeh Keshavarz, Recite in the Name of the Red Rose: Poetic Sacred
Making in 20th Century Iran (University of South Carolina Press,
2006).

Visual Delight:

Before we get into the special report that I have for you about the
very important mid-term elections in Iran, I want to give you my
Christmas gift. This is a power point slide show of a 19th century
private house, the Tabatabai House and a 17th century Safavid garden
called the Fin Garden in the city of Kashan, a central city with a
population of about 300,000. The main portion of the slides were
circulated by my friend Bahar Bastani. In case you want to use this in
class, the show has about 30 slides with a six second transition time
between slides. Just click on here: Fin Garden and the Tabatabai House in the City of Kashan.

Tabatabai House in Kashan, Iran.

Tabatabai House in Kashan, Iran.

Current Issues:

Iranian mid-term elections

Two weeks ago, the Iranian electorate made a clear statement in the
mid term elections in which reformists received 40%, the moderate
conservatives 24%, and the supporters of President Ahmadinejad about 3%
of the vote. The rest of the seats went to independent candidates. Of
the 15 seat up for grab in the Expert Assembly, only one went to his
supporters. This despite the fact that the reformists have objected to
accuracy of the counting process and want a recount of 10 ballot boxes
in each city to demonstrate that the overall pattern of the results
was more in their favor.  Since the main stream American media gave
minimal coverage to this very significant event (although it happened
in a country they are too eager to call the most dangerous country in
the world) I would like to give you some important details:

Among the features of this mid-term election was the prominence of
women in urban as well as rural settings. In my home town Shiraz the
top candidate was a 27 year old female architecture student, Fatemeh
Houshmand . In some cities like Qazvin and Hamadan, the top candidate
as well as 50% of the total elected members were women.

In an editorial for the online political newsletter CounterPunch my
friend Behrooz Ghamari wrote:  “Had this election occurred in an
allied country of the United States, it would have been celebrated as
the highest achievement of American foreign policy.”

What is most unfortunately masked from the American general public is
the maturity and thoughtfulness of the Iranian voter who did not allow
outside pressures on Iran to get translated into an exaggerated
“patriotism” in favor of the current regime. Here are examples of what
some voters said:

– “There is no room to breathe freely, Iran’s international
credibility and respect is diminishing, and we hope that we are not on
a path to war, I voted to change this direction.”
– “I voted to prove that our true desire is to transform this system,
and to show that we don’t need American democracy.”
-“I want to know, in which other country in the world do they have
carnivals on the streets and the artists and celebrities go to
neighborhoods to encourage people to participate?”
– a  young voter from Shiraz called the election a “velvet revolution”
that will strengthen “local decision making and non-governmental
organizations.”

To read Behrooz’s full editorial, click on:
http://www.counterpunch.org/ghamari12182006.html

Iranian Diplomats Arrested in Iraq:

Last week the U.S. defense officials declared the arrest of four
Iranian diplomats in Iraq. Two were released right away. The captured
Iranians – who were not named – were supposed to be carrying all kinds
of sensitive lists and documents pertaining to shipments of weapons
into Iraq, organizational charts, telephone records and maps, among
other sensitive intelligence information. No evidence has been
provided by American officials who are apparently unhappy at the
release of the last two diplomats. The story itself seems somewhat
shaky as the “highly sensitive” information claimed to be carried by
these officials can easily be transmitted electronically – or by two
inconspicuous Iraqi citizens – with much less risk.

According to the Iranian version of the story, the arrested people
were diplomats visiting as guests of the Iraqi President – which
explains why he was agitated at the incident. They were arrested
attending a funeral in the house of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, an Iraqi
Shiite leader. According to this version, these people were released
because none of the claimed documents were found on them.

Iranian Women conducting a 1,000,000 signature Campaign

To reform gender related legal codes in Iran, young Iranian women
activists have started a signature collection campaign. They go door
to door, speak to people about women’s rights, and collect signatures
in support of the reforms which they seek. The innovative nature of
the move and passionate persistence of these young and energetic
feminists have earned them support from the Iranian public and shocked
the opposition. Please publicize this movement to friends who can get
on line and support them. My friend, women’s studies scholar and
activist, Nayereh Tohidi has written about the 1,000,000 signature
campaign:  http://www.payvand.com/news/06/dec/1174.html

On this very bright note, I wish you all a very happy 2007,
and great week.

Fatemeh
===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

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Traditional Iranian Tea House in Shiraz

Traditional Iranian Tea House in Shiraz

Greetings again!

Many thanks for all your kind messages and for forwarding to friends.
Within minutes of sending out a new “Window,” I receive thank you
messages from a wide range of places in the world! I feel amply rewarded
for the work I put into each window. Sometimes, you write with a
specific query about a book or a film you want to use in class. Given my
current teaching and departmental responsibilities, please allow
approximately two weeks for a response.

I number the windows so we have a simple way to keep track. Please let
me know if there are missing numbers in the windows you have received,
JoAnn or I will forward them to you.

Current Issues

* Since you are likely to read this message tomorrow, I would like
to share with you a beautiful and moving piece of music written by
the Iranian musician Kourosh Taqavi for the traditional Persian
instrument setar, dedicated to the victims of 9/11 tragedy. Setar
is a small long-necked lute, an intimate instrument known for its
ability to express emotion. You will see a picture of it.  Please
be sure to listen to the whole excerpt (5 minutes):
http://www.iranian.com/Music/2001/September/Kourosh/index.html
* Last week I criticized NPR for misrepresenting a speech in
persian. This week I must commend the station for the very
informative program “Speaking of Faith” on Islam (touching on Iran
as well) aired this morning, 9:00-10:00. The panorama of voices
and views was refreshing. Among the Iranian American scholars
interviewed were Omid Safi (UNC), and Seyyid Hossein Nasr (George
Washington).

Suggested Reading: in relation to discussions surrounding the
anniversary of September 11, I would like to recommend a volume edited
by Professor Safi,  good for personal as well as classroom use:
Progressive Muslims: on Justice, Gender, and Pluralism (Oxford:
Oneworld, 2003).

* Iran continued to be in the papers.  LETTER FROM IRAN: A
Different Face of Iran
(Steven Knipp) in last Sunday’s Washington
Post is notable. Knipp observes: “what astonished me the most
about Iran were its women. I met and spoke with scores of them
from all parts of the country. And everywhere they were
wonderful: vivid, bold, articulate in several languages,
politically astute and audaciously outward-looking. While some men
demurred, the women weren’t afraid to voice opinions about
anything under the sun.” Not surprisingly, Knipp feels the need to
explain: ” In fact, women in Iran can work and drive and vote, own
property or businesses, run for political office and seek a
divorce. The majority of Iran’s university graduates are women.”
Sadly, the negative language that usually characterizes all media
reports on Iran surfaces in this well-intentioned letter as well
when the author expresses hope that:  “this once noble nation will
one day return to its tolerant roots.”  Similarly, the subtitle
for the letter reads: “An American finds hope in the Forbidden
Land.” Why forbidden land? What is forbidden? It is not clear. The
reader might assume (wrongly) that getting in and out of Iran is
not possible.

* Last week, Iran was in the news for a specific reason: a visit by
the former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami. He was here to
deliver the keynote address during the three-day annual event that
brought together approximately 40,000 Muslims: Islamic Society of
North America convention in Rosemont. The U.S. Deputy Secretary of
Defense Gordon England, Ingrid Matteson, the Society’s first
female president, and Robert Fisk, the celebrated British
journalist were among the speakers. Khatami’s address titled,
“Achieving Balance in a Troubled World,” focused on the complexity
of human identity and the need for American Muslims to acknowledge
the American as well as the Muslim component of their identity.
Chicago Sun-Times had a report on the convention if you like to
read more:
http://www.suntimes.com/output/religion/cst-nws-islamic01.html

* In a news conference held at the National Cathedral, Khatami
condemned committing violence in the name of any religion as a
double crime — one against humanity, and one against religions
which are “based on faith and love.”

Art/Culture

* Let us use the subject we are on to transition from politics into
art! In Iran, Khatami is best known for his support of arts,
particularly performing arts. Last year, the young Iranian super
star, actress Pegah Ahangarani
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegah_Ahangarani

staged a show about Khatami in December 2005 to mark the ending of
his presidency. The show called ” A Night with the Man with a
Chocolate Robe” drew a large crowd and many reviews in the Iranian
media. Khatami joined the ladies on stage and spoke about the
significance of supporting and furthering his legacy of reform:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammad_Khatami

* I know, I know my “windows” have often focused on women. It isn’t
my fault, as Knipp observed, there are many bright articulate
Iranian ladies making their artistic/intellectual statements. I
promise more attention to male contributions soon! For now, I
would like you to meet one more of my favorite Ladies of current
Iranian Cinema: internationally acclaimed writer and director,
Tahmineh Milani. Last time I went to see one of her films “Two
Women” in Iran, the wait in line for the ticket was one hour.
Milani has addressed many social issues, most of all those related
to women, family and gender. For a short bio and list of her
films, visit:
http://www.iranchamber.com/cinema/tmilani/tahmineh_milani.php

* And one more lady from Iranian cinema: Niki Karimi. Karimi started
with acting, worked closely with Milani, and moved into script
writing, documentary making and most recently directing. She has
won national fame, and many awards, for all of them. You may read
more about her and her films in:
http://www.nikikarimi.ir/biography.htm

Suggested Reading: Since we focused mostly on cinema, let me suggest a
good reading on the history of Iranian cinema and its recent
developments: The New Iranian Cinema: Politics, Representation and
Identity. The volume is edited by Richard Tapper and has contributions
from various scholars of Iranian cinema including Hamid Naficy.

Visual Delight

* It has turned into a tradition to close the window after a stroll
in a painting exhibit. Let us visit a 2006 exhibit by Neda Chaychi
born in 1971. In addition to her training as an artist, Neda has a
degree in clinical psychology. She has had many exhibits in the
last few years in Iran. As you see, women images are prominent in
her work:  http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=317

Until Next Window!
Fatemeh

========================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatuares
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
========================

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