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Windows on Iran 49 / 50

Let's open this "Window on Iran" with a colorful and festive scene from the annual pomegranate harvest in Iran. Please see the end of this 'Window' for more pictures from this village's harvest and festival.

Let's open this "Window on Iran" with a colorful and festive scene from the annual pomegranate harvest in Iran. Please see the end of this 'Window' for more pictures from this village's harvest and festival.

Dear All,

Greetings from St. Louis, Missouri. I hope you are all well and looking forward to a happy and relaxing summer. Let me start with a bit of personal news. As you know, I have been on leave of absence during the spring semester. I am now looking forward to resuming full academic duties.

Personal News:

Before opening window 49,  I would like to share a good news with you: A Peabody Award for “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi.”

Many of you listened to the episode of Speaking of Faith called “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi.”  I was a featured guest in this hour-long program which was aired on NPR once in March and once in December of 2007. I am delighted to report that the show has received the prestigious Peabody Award. You can read the details and also listen to the show at: http://www.payvand.com/news/08/apr/1304.html.

National Public Radio (NPR) program Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett featured Dr. Fatemeh Keshavarz on their recent show on Rumi, entitled The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi (click on the picture to listen to the show).

National Public Radio (NPR) program Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett featured Dr. Fatemeh Keshavarz on their recent show on Rumi, entitled "The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi" (click on the picture to listen to the show).

Political:

* The news you will read below is arguably the most important recent piece of information on Iran’s “interference” in Iraq. In my public speaking engagements, I am often asked if indeed Iran supplies weapons to Iraqi insurgents. My answer usually is “I won’t be able to give you a definite yes or no answer because if indeed Iran has such plans, it will not make them public. What I can say is that all reliable historians of the region believe that a calm and stable Iraq is in the interest of Iran. Furthermore, the government of Nuri al-Maleki has strong friendly ties to Iran.”

* Well, it appears that I can now say more on the subject. Released three days ago, the news quoted below calls for serious attention: The weapons used in Iraq were not made in Iran…after all! Please read the L.A. Times article and share it with others: “In a sharp reversal of its longstanding accusations against Iran arming militants in Iraq , the US military has made an unprecedented albeit quiet confession: the weapons they had recently found in Iraq were not made in Iran at all.” The rest is available here: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article19908.htm.

Iranian American physics genius Nima Arkani-Hamed (Princeton University-Institute for Advanced Study).

Iranian American physics genius Nima Arkani-Hamed (Princeton University-Institute for Advanced Study).

Young Iranian American Scientist on CNN:

Young Iranian American physicist, Nima Arkani-Hamed, believes the universe possesses no less than 11 dimensions. Read this CNN special on Nima who is viewed these days as a Physics genius: http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/05/09/physics.nima/index.html.

Harvard Scholar wishes to be buried in Isfahan

The distinguished Harvard Scholar, Iran Specialist, Richard Frye has asked to be buried in Isfahan, Iran: http://www.searchles.com/channels/show/2908.

A Cypress Tree more than 4,000 years old!

The cypress tree is located in the Grand Mosque of Abarqu (which originally was a Zoroastrian Chahar Taqi Temple). According to local traditions, the tree was actually planted by the prophet Zarathushtra (Zoroaster) himself.

This 4,000 year old cypress tree is located in the Grand Mosque of Abarqu (which originally was a Zoroastrian Chahar Taqi Temple). According to local traditions, the tree was actually planted by the prophet Zarathushtra (Zoroaster) himself.

News coming out of Iran often includes things much more interesting than political conflict. Here is one. In the historic Iranian city of Yazd, a cypress tree has been identified as one of the world’s oldest living organisms. According to scientists, this tree which continues to stand graciously, is now over 4,000 years old. Take a look: http://www.cais-soas.com/News/2008/April2008/25-04.htm.

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Congratulations to Dr. Trita Parsi for the Award given to his Wonderful Book on Iran!

Iranian Americans are becoming major contributors to the important debate surrounding Iran’s role in the Middle East and the world. Not so long ago, I recommended to you a great book on this subject, recently published by Yale University Press. It was Treacherous Alliance: the Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and United States by Dr. Trita Parsi.  You can look up the book on Amazon.com. I do, however, want to share a great piece of news about Trita’s book. It has just won the Silver medal of “Council of Foreign Relations 2008 Arthur Ross Book Award.” Congratulations to Dr. Parsi for his excellent work and for this significant recognition: http://www.cfr.org/publication/16231/.

A cute little Iranian girl enjoying the pomegranate harvest.

A cute little Iranian girl enjoying the pomegranate harvest.

Visual Delight

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In Iran, pomegranate is a very popular and relatively cheap fruit. Pomegranate gardens are beautiful from the time the blossoms are out to the time that the fruits hang from the branches ready to be picked. To close this window on a delicious and colorful note, let us visit the the pomegranate harvest in a village in Iran. Click here to join the pomegranate harvest: Pomegranate Harvest in Iran. Enjoy.

Hope to be able to open the next window on Iran soon.

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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An up-close look at the beautiful Safran fields of Khorasan. Please see below for many more striking photos of the annual Safran harvest in Northeastern Iran.

An up-close look at the beautiful Safran fields of Khorasan. Please see below for many more striking photos from the annual Safran harvest in Northeastern Iran.

Dear All,

I hope you have had a nice and restful Thanksgiving. If you have added a friend’s name to these windows, please give us a few days before we could add new names to our mailing list.

And now, let us open window 44 without further delay with recent images from Iran.

Visual Delight

* Iran is one of the major producers of “zafaran” or “safran” in the world. To see beautiful scenes of working on safran fields in the North Eastern province of Khorasan, click here to view them: Safran Fields of Khorasan. My thanks to Dr. Bastani for circulating these wonderful images.

An Iranian woman harvesting Safran in the fields of Khorasan (please click the link above from more beautiful photos).

An Iranian woman harvesting Safran in the fields of Khorasan (please click the link above from more beautiful photos).

Yahoo Removes Iran

* The people of Iran can no longer register as “Iranian” if they open a Yahoo account because the name of Iran as a country has been removed from its list. Of course, as in many similar actions, this has no effect or exerts no pressure on the Iranian government. It helps cut off the people of Iran from the outside world. Iranians are number four bloggers in the world. E-mail is also a very important way for them to keep connected. If you wish to object to this, please visit: http://www.petitiononline.com/yahoo07/petition.html

The Efforts to Prevent a Military attack on Iran have intensified

* Letter to Missouri Lawmakers: Here in St. Louis, my tireless activist friend and colleague Andrew Wimmer of the Center for Theology and Social Analysis at St. Louis University has formed a new campaign: SILENCE = WAR. Please visit the group’s emerging website: http://www.silenceiswar.org/ and support their efforts to speak up for peace. As their first effort, the group has written to the two Missouri senators asking if they would “take an unprovoked military assault against Iran off the table.” And if they would withdraw their support for the preparations for such an assault underway in Missouri as Boeing in St. Charles builds and delivers a new 30,000 pound bunker buster bomb that would be dropped by B2 bombers based at Whiteman Air Force Base outside Kansas City. The letter requests a written response by December 3. To see the content of the full letter, visit: http://www.ctsastl.org/Iran/bond_iran.pdf.

* Another dear friend Jack Renard of St. Louis University was one of the first St. Louisans to respond to the above plea for peace with a letter of his own. Jack’s letter is so balanced, sincere, and insightful that I have asked his permission to share it with you in the hope that many use it as a model: http://www.ctsastl.org/Iran/renard_iran.pdf. Prof. Renard is a distinguished scholar of Islam with numerous book titles to his credit. Some of his works such Seven Doors to Islam: Spirituality and the Religious Life of the Muslims published by University of California, Berkeley are now classics. For his other works, visit his site at: http://www.slu.edu/colleges/AS/theology/faculty_renard.php.

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* Another important piece on the dangers of an attack on Iran is called “Hands Off Iran” by Chris Hedges. In this brief and insightful piece, Hedges lays out the implications of an unprovoked war against Iran: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20071210/hedges.

The Fifth Tehran Contemporary Sculpture Biennial

* Let’s take a break from war talk by a visit to another visual delight. Many think sculpture is among the art forms not commonly favored by Muslims. Well, the Fifth Tehran Contemporary Sculpture Biennial, this week, has enthralled art critics world wide. To read a short description and see photos of the sculptures, visit: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/nov/1218.html.

Fifth Annual Sculpture Tehran

An exhibit at the Fifth Tehran Contemporary Sculpture Biennial (click the link below for more information on the event and check out some of the other interesting exhibits as well).

Another exhibit at the Fifth Tehran Contemporary Sculpture Biennial (click the link below for more on the event and more photos of the exhibits).

Another exhibit at the Fifth Tehran Contemporary Sculpture Biennial (click the link below for more information on the event and check out some of the other interesting exhibits as well).

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Creative Attempts to Prevent a War: A Direct Line to Iran

* Most people passing the Boston Common’s Park Street T stop shrugged at the display: a red telephone with a retro design, symbolic of the hotline established between the White House and the Kremlin during the Cold War. It sat on a small table with a white table cloth and a sign out front, which proclaimed “Direct Line to Iran.” An MIT student stood to its left, listened in on headphones and provided English-Farsi translation. http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/11/14/5205/.

The Enough Fear Campaign

* If you want to join a group of vibrant Iranians and Americans who have started an international effort to prevent war between the US and Iran, just visit the bi-lingual site “Enough Fear” at: http://enoughfear.org/. The organizers of the site collect and post photos of Americans and Iranians to demonstrate the solidarity between the peace makers in both countries. Do join, and make your own contribution, every click counts! (my thanks to Robert Connolly for sending this wonderful site).

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Saber Rattling us to the Next Disaster

* Mr. Daniel M Pourkesali, a U.S. Board member in Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran expresses concern that the danger of a U.S. military attack on Iran is far from over. In a meticulously documented piece, he mentions – among other things- that “according to a report published by The Observer [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,2209036,00.html], US military officials are pressuring interrogators questioning Iraqi insurgents to press for incriminating evidence that points to Iran.” For the full article go to: http://iranian.com/main/blog/daniel-m-pourkesali/saber-rattling-us-next-disaster.

Sane Officers Oppose a War on Iran

* Just so we don’t despair totally, there are still many voices of sanity, some from the U.S. army, working hard to prevent a military campaign against Iran. To read a very interesting article on this, sent by Matt Miller, visit: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20071115_sane_officers_oppose_cheney/.

A painting by Farah Ossouli (please see the link on the left for more of her work).

A painting by Farah Ossouli (please see the link on the left for more of her work).

More Visual Delights

* Let us close this window with a slide show of recent paintings by a young Iranian woman artist Farah Ossouli. You have seen another of her exhibits in these windows. But this one is different. Please click here: Farah Ossouli Paintings. Enjoy.

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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A beautiful garden of modern Tehran. Please click on the link below to see many other terrific photos from Iran.

A beautiful garden of modern Tehran. Please click on the link below to see many other terrific photos from Iran.

Dear All,

I hope you have had a nice long weekend. I managed to salvage a few hours of the weekend to put together a new window on Iran for you. Let us get to Window 38 without further ado.

Musical Opening

Due to constant threat of a pending military strike on Iran, the Iranian American community is in deep stress. No one knows what is going to happen if the most powerful military force on the face of the earth really decides to strike. The example of Iraq is not reassuring. Lots of poems and songs about Iran and what it means to the Iranian American community get circulated everyday. Here is a one minute and twenty second slide show. Its name tells all “Iran: the Eternal Land of the Persians.” The melody in the background is asong called “Elahe-ye naz,” a big hit in the 60s and 70s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ0zx8XTEN8 (circulated by Daniel Pourkesali)

Haleh Esfandiari Leaves Iran

Here is a piece of important – and good – news which ought to help
cooling things down. However, I have not seen it in our popular media
yet. Iranian newspapers report that Haleh Esfandiari, who had been
freed from jail, has left the country last night. Great to know that
she will be reunited with her family soon.

The U.S. Official Reaction to Iran/IAEA Agreement

Last week, the International atomic energy agency ( IAEA) and Iran
reached an agreement about answering some crucial questions concerning
the Iranian nuclear program. The IAEA called it a breakthrough. This
agreement is particularly important not just because it gives the IAEA
access to certain documents that it has wanted to see but because a
timetable is set so the negotiations are not going to last
indefinitely. The U.S. government, which has used even a negative hint
form IAEA about Iran to push for more sanctions, dismissed this
agreement. In other words, if the agency reports anything negative, it
is evidence of Iran’s non-compliance. If it makes progress, they have
been fooled by Iran which is seeking time to make a bomb.

The Possible Attack on Iran

* None of the recent developments have brought a sense of relief to
those who follow the news of a possible attack on Iran. If anything,
this weekend papers have been particularly alarming. Matt Miller has
shared the UK Sunday times piece titled Pentagon “Three-Day Blitz”
Plan for Iran: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/090207A.shtml. The
supposed plan would involve hitting 1200 targets inside Iran with the
casualty figures (not often discussed by proponents of the idea) in
the millions. Here is an article that Paul Appell has shared. I do
hope that its findings do not reflect the reality of what the U.S.
government is up to. However, it has been written in a spirit of
activism for peace. It is in that spirit that I share it with you.
After all, this is the time to say that there are better ways to deal
with the Iran question that killing a couple of million Iranians and
sending the whole region up in flames. Here is the reference to the
article that Paul has kindly forwarded:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/howard-a-rodman/how-i-learned-to-stop-wor_b_62830.html

* If you talk to individuals who have been alarmed by the “threat” that
Iran is posing to the world, remember:

1. Iran’s cooperation with the U.S. was crucial in overthrowing the
Taliban in Afghanistan
2. We have plenty of evidence to believe that the roadside bombs that
kill American soldiers are manufactured in Iraq. Starting as early as
a year and half ago, American troops have found many shops and
factories that make such bombs inside Iraq. Here is a U.S. Marine
Corps press release on the subject:
http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/templatereleaseview1/E017AB5105AC8A9D85257035004FC172?opendocument
3. The only countries in the region in which al-Qa’ideh does not have
freedom to operate are Iran and Turkey.
4. As President Karzai pointed out only a few weeks ago, Iran continues
to be a help and a support to Afghanistan in its efforts to stand up
to the Taliban (who are getting closer to power by the day).
5. President Ahmadinejad is an elected president who, as polls in Iran
show, stands zero chance of re-election. He is not a life-time
dictator who needs to be removed by military force.
6. Iran’s enrichment of uranium for its nuclear industry is not a breach
of the international law. What is important is to keep it under
control by IAEA. This is possible only if Iran stays in NPT (the Non
Proliferation Treaty) and its facilities get inspected regularly.

What did the Young Iranian Cyclist Say to Senator Lieberman?

Leslie Angeline, who had been fasting for twelve days, sits outside Senator Joseph Lieberman's waiting to meet with him about his aggressive stature towards Iran.

Leslie Angeline, who had been "fasting for peace" for twelve days, sits outside Senator Joseph Lieberman's waiting to be granted an audience with him about his aggressive stature towards Iran.

Leslie Angeline 50, mother of two, member of CodePink spent two weeks in Iran this summer. She loved the country which she found warm and friendly. When Leslie returned to the U.S. to advocate for diplomacy with Iran, Senator Lieberman was suggesting to bomb Iran. Leslie went on hunger strike, lost ten pounds and fainted but did not give up her goal of getting her message to the Senator. You can read about her here:    http://www.newhavenadvocate.com/blogs/home.cfm?aid=1602
When, finally, she got 15 minutes the senator, she took Ali the young Iranian bicyclist for peace with him. I think I should let you read the rest, in Leslie’s words:

He then allowed Ali, one of the Iranian Miles for Peace bicyclists, to join us. Ali spoke from his experience as a young man in Tehran’s student movement.  He said, “There is a growing student and feminist movement in Iran.  70% of the population is under the age of thirty. Every time Bush refers to us as the Axis of Evil, or a politician such as you threatens war or sanctions, our government uses this as an excuse to clamp down. 90% of the Iranian people want a different form of government.  The Iranian people like Americans.  Lieberman responded to this by saying he’s heard that “the two countries in the Middle East that like Americans are Israel and Iran!”   Ali continued, “The U.S. has been a democracy for three hundred years and you still have problems.  Iran’s democracy is new and fragile; please give us some time and we’ll take care of our own problems.”

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The Biggest Non-governmental Charity in Iran

From here in the U.S., it is hard to imagine that Iranians think about
things other than politics and conflict, that they are ordinary human
beings with the same problems and aspirations as anyone living
anywhere in the world. I thought it’ll be nice to read about the
Kahrizak Foundation which supports disabled elderly who lack financial
resources: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/jun/1240.html (Thanks to my
friend Parinaz Massumzadeh for circulating the information).

Iranian Women Athletes

Iranian woman race car driver.

Iranian woman race car driver.

Let us close this window with some beautiful images of Iranian women in sports:

* Iranian women drivers are back in the car race scene this September: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article490.
* In fencing, women are working to improve the training conditions so they can compete internationally: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article495.
* In soccer they have been training hard and have achieved success in Asia: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article496.

Let us hope that the peace is holding, and the news is good, when I
send you the next window.
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 37

Some of the many Iranians that the recent American Peace delegation met on their visit to Iran this past July. Organized by Phil Wilayto and sponsored by the Virginia Anti-War Network and The Richmond Defender newspaper, the five-member "People's Peace Delegation to Iran" visited Tehran, Shiraz, Yazd, Esfahan and Qom (see below for more on their trip) (image courtesy of http://www.campaigniran.org).

Hi All,

Earlier today I sent out a special window urging you to write to your
representatives in an attempt to stop our country from getting one
step closer to a war with Iran. Many of you wrote back within the hour
to let me know that you have shared the message with others. Thank
you.

With that, let us move on to Window on Iran number 37 which opens with
a good piece of news.

Major Iran/IAEA Agreement on Additional Measures on the Nuclear Issue

* The following news should be hailed as a significant diplomatic
success, a step toward cooling things down. On Tuesday Iran and the
UN Atomic Energy Agency agreed on a timetable for Tehran to clarify
outstanding concerns about its contested nuclear program, amid Western
threats of further UN sanctions. International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) deputy director general Olli Heinonen and top Iranian national
security official Javad Vaeedi announced the agreement after two days
of talks in Tehran. “We have now in front of us an agreed working
plan, how to implement it and we have a timeline for the
implementation. We talked about the details and the steps to be
taken,” said Heinonen. Here is the rest of the article if you like to
read (thanks Paul Appell for sharing this)
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/295302/1/.html

* The current U.S. administration, however, has so far acted as if it
never happened. The same week that Iran and IAEA signed the above
agreement, former CIA Director James Woolsey appeared on CNN with Lou
Dobbs to say an attack on Iran is a bad idea but allowing Iran to
obtain a nuclear weapon is worse. And in today’s New York Times
(August 29), Elaine Sciolino quoted unnamed officials from “Western
governments” describing the plan as a “new and dangerous strategy by
Iran to drag out the process.” Further down the article explains that
“Details of the timetable will be included in a report” that will be
released later. It is not clear how a plan that is not yet released,
that includes a clear timetable, and that has been described by the
IAEA officials as a “breakthrough” is faulted and branded as a
dangerous plan even before it is released.

Tell the Networks Not to Follow Fox

Why does the American news media not scrutinize significant news items
concerning Iran? Why, concerned friends such as Nadir Sadeqi and Matt
Miller ask in their e-mail messages, while the FOX news works on the
American public to convince them that war with Iran is the only
option, do the other networks not respond? All they need to do is
following the tradition of sound reporting. Christine Amanpour,  is
quoted to have said – concerning bad reporting on Iraq – that her
network was silenced and intimidated by FOX. On behalf of Nadir and
Matt, I share the following information with those of you who are
interested in telling the networks not to follow FOX down the road to
war: http://foxattacks.com/iran (or watch the video below)

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Is the War on Iran Still a Strong Possibility?

* Some argue that a war on Iran is not an option for practical reasons.
A fantastic piece on this is an interview that David Barsamian has
done with the renowned historian of contemporary Iran, Ervand
Abrahamian (City University, New York). The interview is short, very
perceptive, and readable. It has a very interesting title too: The
Mullahs Face Off: Washington Versus Tehran
(San Francisco, City
Light Books, 2007).

* Others are still very worried about the possibility. In his site
www.AntiWar.com, blogger Philip Giraldi writes: Anyone who doubts that the
war party is firmly focused on Iran need only take note of the Aug. 21
lead editorial in the Washington Post, which had the heading “Tougher
on Iran: The Revolutionary Guard is at war with the United States. Why
not fight back?” The Post, which regularly features neocons like
Charles Krauthammer on its editorial page, was a principal cheerleader
for the Iraq war. Giraldi criticizes the Post for accepting Washington
claims that Iranian special forces are in Iraq training the Shiite
militia. “Why is the U.S. army not been able to arrest a single one of
them or provide any evidence of this” is his question. It is a very
good question. I would add that this claim is not just refereeing to
an unsubstantiated hypothesis but a very unlikely one. Any number of
Iraqis who survived the rule of Saddam by taking refuge in Iran could
have been trained sufficiently to return and train their Iraqi country
men. But the point is not how logical or provable these claims are.
The point is the poisoning effect they have on the American public.
You can read the rest of Giraldi’s article at:
http://www.antiwar.com/orig/giraldi.php?articleid=11509

American Peace Delegation to Iran

A photo from the American Peace Delegation to Iran discussed below (image courtesy of www.campaigniran.org).

A photo from the American Peace Delegation to Iran discussed below (image courtesy of http://www.campaigniran.org).

All right, we need a little antidote to offset the alarming bells of
war. Let me tell you about this delightful five person American
delegation who visited Iran this past July. Organized by Phil Wilayto
and sponsored by the Virginia Anti-War Network and The Richmond
Defender newspaper, the five-member “People’s Peace Delegation to
Iran” visited Tehran, Shiraz, Yazd, Esfahan and Qom, plus several
villages and towns. The Following are interesting excerpts from Phil
Wilayto’s interview with CASMII about the trip:

On our first day, in the capital city of Tehran, we attended the
Friday noontime prayer service at the University of Tehran. This is
the big weekly religious gathering for this metro area of some 14
million people, and around 10,000 men and women attend. We had heard
that they finish the service with a rousing chant of “Death to
America!” so we thought that would give us one cultural pole for the
trip. Actually, we were two hours into the program when we had to
leave, and still no anti-U.S. chants. So we had to settle for a lot of
warm smiles and handshakes.

Also, I’d like to anticipate the question, “But you probably only saw
what the government wanted you to see.” One evening in Qom – it was
about 9 p.m. – I walked to an Internet cafe to send an e-mail to
family members and friends back home. I stayed till 11 p.m., then got
lost on the walk back to the hotel. So there I was in the holy city of
Qom, lost – on the eve of a major national religious holiday, no less
– wandering the streets and trying unsuccessfully to change some
Iranian bills into coins so I could call our guide from a pay phone. I
wound up meeting two brothers, one of them a theology student. They
brought me back to the hotel in a taxi. So I was out on my own for
about three hours. Two other members of the delegation walked back one
evening to their hotel in Esfahan, and in 45 minutes they were stopped
by three groups of Iranians who wanted to talk with them. On the
streets and public places we talked with anyone we wanted. One
afternoon while driving from Esfahan to Qom we stopped by the side of
the highway and had tea with a family of goat herders. I learned to
smoke a hookah, or “hubble-bubble,” in a 5,000-year-old town about
4,000 feet up in the mountains. We photographed anything we wanted,
except military installations. I made a point of trying to speak with
people from as many social classes as possible. I’m not saying we
became experts on Iran, but I think we got a pretty fair look at the
country and its people.

Sean Penn’s Reference to Iran

Sean Penn in Iran meeting with his industry colleagues in the Iranian film industry at the Cinematheque (PLEASE cick the link below to read his letter about Iran). (Image courtesy of www.payvand.com).

Sean Penn in Iran meeting with his industry colleagues in the Iranian film industry at the Cinematheque (PLEASE cick the link below to read his letter about Iran). (Image courtesy of http://www.payvand.com).

Actor/activist Sean Penn felt the same warmth visiting Iran in March.
Jaine Benson, one of my many friends through these windows, has
forwarded this very interesting letter which I had almost forgotten
about. Thanks Jaine. The letter is long and mostly focused on Iraq,
below I quote the paragraph on Iran which remains relevant today:

“You want to rattle sabers toward Iran now? Let me tell you something
about Iran, because I’ve been there and you haven’t. Iran is a great
country. A great country. Does it have its haters? You bet. Just like
the United States has its haters. Does it have a corrupt regime? You
bet. Just like the United States has a corrupt regime. Does it want a
nuclear weapon? Maybe. Do we have one? You bet. But the people of Iran
are great people. And if we give that corrupt leadership, (by
attacking Iran militarily) the opportunity to unify that great country
in hatred against us, we’ll have been giving up one of our most
promising future allies in decades. If you really know anything about
Iran, you know exactly what I’m referring to. Of course your
administration belittles diplomatic potential there, as those options
rely on a credibility and geopolitical influence that you have
aggressively squandered worldwide.” If you are interested in reading
the whole letter, here is the link:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-penn/an-open-letter-to-the-pre_b_44172.html


Mohsen Mostafavi, Iranian American, recently named new Dean of Harvards Graduate School of Architecture and Design.

Mohsen Mostafavi, prominent Iranian American, recently named new Dean of Harvard's Graduate School of Design.

Iranian American Named Dean, Harvard School of Design

Mohsen Mostafavi, an international figure in the fields of architecture and urbanism, will become the dean of the Faculty of Design beginning in January 2008, President Drew Faust announced today (Aug. 10). The news was forwarded by my cousin Abe Massoudi, and my friend Farimah Companieh, thank you both! You can read more at:
http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2007/08.23/99-gsdean.html

Iranian Women in Sports

Time for more fun and for seeing images from Iran which are almost impossible to see in the American media. It is rather unfortunate any negative news on Iranian women will make it to the front page here almost immediately. But images such as these are missing. Iranian Women Canoe Polo players in action:
http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article68

Iranian women canoe polo players in action! (click the link above for more pictures).

Iranian women canoe polo players in action! (click the link above for more pictures).

Visual Delight

Last week I was showered with your loving messages about the wonderful
paintings of the Iranian Assyrian artist Hannibal Alkhas. Thank you! I
can’t agree  more. I’ll promise to make more slide shows of his
exhibits whenever new ones appear. This week, I bring you the works of
two Iranian women artists, Elham Nafisi Farr, a young and up-coming
painter and Mansoureh Hussaini a much more experienced
painter/calligrapher. Unfortunately, I did not find much personal
details on them except they are both graduates of Tehran School of
Fine Arts. Click here: Nafisi Farr-Hussaini painting.Enjoy!

A beautiful painting by Mansoureh Husseini (click the link below for more paintings by her and also Elham Nafisi Far).

A beautiful painting by Mansoureh Husseini (click the link below for more paintings by her and also Elham Nafisi Farr).

Till our next window, 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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A fascinating watercolor painting by Hannibal Alkhas (see the link at the end of this 'Window' for more of his works).

A fascinating watercolor painting by Hannibal Alkhas (see the link at the end of this

Dear All,

Greetings after a long absence. I have been very busy preparing for the academic year and participating in St. Louis community events. In the second week of August, I spoke at CAJE (Conference on Alternatives in Jewish Education) which held its annual meeting in St. Louis and on the campus of Washington University. It was a lively and well prepared event. My presentation in this conference was an important experience for me. I am looking forward to staying connected with educators in the American Jewish community to share information and work for better communication and understanding between our respective communities.

I also was very much involved in the three day annual convention of VFP (Veterans For Peace) held here in St. Louis last week. Together with my friend Alice Bloch, I gave two workshops. I also had a keynote address about Iran. Alice and I both felt very pleased and honored to have been a part of the VFP convention.

If you have written to me recently, please note that – emerging from these events and also preparing for the academic year – I will need a just a little more time to write back.

And now to our window number 36 on Iran:

A woman with velvet voice

Popular Iranian singer Elaheh, the woman with a velvet voice.

Popular Iranian singer Elaheh, the "woman with a velvet voice."

On August 17, the popular Iranian singer Elaheh passed away. As a pre-revolution Iranian woman singer, Elaheh’s songs have not been played on national Iranian radio and television. Nevertheless, Elaheh remains a very familiar and popular voice particularly for Iranians of my generation. She was known as “the woman with a velvet voice”. Here, I would like to share with you one her hits Rosvai Zamaneh Manam. Click to Listen.

Iranian Unit to Be Labeled ‘Terrorist’

U.S. Moving Against Revolutionary Guard.  The United States is
considering to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, the
country’s 125,000-strong elite military branch, as a “specially
designated global terrorist,” according to U.S. officials, a move that
allows Washington to target the group’s business operations and
finances. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/14/AR2007081401662.html?wpisrc=newsletter

Resolution Opposing Military Action Against Iran

The Democratic Party of the most populous state in the nation has
passed a strong resolution calling on US Congress to “oppose
unprovoked military action against Iran” and to “support direct talks
between the Untied States and Iran without preconditions.” This is
wonderful news! Read for yourself  the full text of the resolution
that was authored by the Bay Area Iranian American Democrats (BAIAD):
http://www.baiad.org/

Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran speak of Collaboration

A week after President Karzi embarrassed the current U.S.
administration by calling Iran a support and solution rather than a
problem, President Ahmadinejad visited Afghanistan and the two leaders
spoke of collaboration to improve the Afghan economy and help the
country out of its current crisis. The trip is intended to put the
seal on a range of Iranian-led reconstruction projects as well as
consolidate areas of cooperation such as combating drug traffickers.
Iranian aid – worth £125m – has been provided for three projects: a
water research center, a dental college and equipping Kabul’s medical
university. While local papers highlighted these projects, the western
media defined the trip in terms of another confrontation between Iran
and the U.S.  Guardian titled its report:

US feels heat as Iranian leader visits Afghanistan
http://www.guardian.co.uk/afghanistan/story/0,,2148964,00.html

About a week earlier, President Bush had to warn Prime Minister Nuri
al-Maliki of Iraq after seeing pictures of cordial meetings between
Maliki and top Iranian leaders in Tehran hoping that – despite the
pictures –  the prime minister was delivering a tough message. “If the
signal is that Iran is constructive, I will have to have a
heart-to-heart with my friend, the prime minister,” said President
Bush. Here is the full article:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070810/ts_afp/usiraniraqbush_070810091315
I am not a Mid-East politics expert to give you full commentary on
these recent moves. However, as the U.S. led war is viewed more and
more as weakening the region, and the U.S. money arms the hard-liner
Sunni groups, looking eastward for cooperation and support seems to
have been an outcome. In the meantime, China and Russia are looming
larger on the horizon with ideas for regional cooperation (economic
and otherwise). These may explain, at least in part, the Iraqi and
Afghan leaders confidence in acknowledging the positive role of Iran
in the region.

Visual Delight

A painting by Hannibal Alkhas (click the link on the left for more of his terrific work).

Another painting by Hannibal Alkhas (click the link on the left for more of his terrific work).

I would like to revive our old tradition of closing these windows with a painting exhibit. This one is a very recent show of the watercolor works of Hannibal Alkhas (b. 1930). An Iranian Assyrian artist of great stature in the Iranian art community, Alkhas has worked with many different media and styles of painting. He has also worked with wood. I’ll leave the show to speak for itself. Since it is the only visual attachment, I hope it won’t be too large for your computers. Click here: Hannibal Alkhas Painting Show.

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 32

A snowy day in Tehran (see below for more recent images from Tehran).

A snowy day in Tehran (see below for more recent images from Tehran).

Dear All,

I hope you are enjoying the summer. If you signed up to be on Windows on Iran this weekend in Boston, there will be a few days before you are added to the list. Also, Meghan, Richard, Mehdi, Matt, Prinaz…and a million others, thank you so very much for writing and sending vital Iran-related information in the past week or so. Please forgive me for not being able to write back personally. I do appreciate your help.

I had a great weekend in Boston, a book signing at the Harvard Coop bookstore, and an interview with WZBC, Boston News. I very much appreciated the opportunity to discuss with John Grebe, the host of the show, the mindlessness of talking about an attack on Iran as if it were morally acceptable and practically doable. In these frightening times, when people you think know better –  such as Senator Lieberman – propose violence against Iran, it would be crucial to keep certain facts in mind. I will summarize these below under the headings “Concerning the Nuclear Issue” and “Consequences of a Potential Military Assault on Iran.” Before we get into that topic though, I would like you to see more pleasant things:

Images of Peaceful Life in Iran

Thanks to Joy Martin who sent me these beautiful recent images from Tehran, we can start this window with a colorful show of images from ordinary life in Iran. We think the photographer is Sharam Rasavi (the images have been forwarded by various people and it is hard to determine who is the photographer). Click here: Recent Images from Tehran. There are twelve slides and the transition time between them is five seconds.

Contrary to the images that you will most often see in the mainstream U.S. media, Tehran is a major metropolitan city with all the same things you will find in major capital cities throughout the world (click on the link above for many more images).

Contrary to the images that you will most often see in the mainstream U.S. media, Tehran is a major metropolitan city with all the same things you will find in major capital cities throughout the world (click on the link above for many more images).

Miles For Peace

//milesforpeace.org .

"Miles for Peace" group in Paris. Please visit their terrific website at http://milesforpeace.org (image courtesy of http://www.payvand.com).

On the subject of peace, I have great news for you. A dozen Iranian
men and women cyclists who had started cycling from Iran, and across
Europe, have now arrived in the United States. Their message: Iranians
are a peaceful people,  they love other nations,  and would like to be
a constructive member of the International community.

If you live in the St. Louis area, come to greet the Iranian men and
women cyclists for peace on Thursday, June 21st, at the Arch at
6:00pm. Don’t forget to  bring your bicycle if wish to cycle with them
around the Arch.

You can have dinner with the cyclists at Talaynas Restaurant (Four
Seasons Shopping Center, Chesterfield MO 63017 Tel # 314-956-0451) at
8 pm if you like. To learn more about Miles for peace, please visit:
http://www.milesforpeace.org/home.php.

Concerning the Nuclear Issue:
Now to the crucial facts that should not get masked by the flow of misinformation on Iran :

Iran has no history of military aggression against its neighbors in the past two centuries (in the Iran-Iraq war, Iran was attacked and stopped at the old borders once the invaders were pushed out). Iran is a signatory to the NPT (None Proliferation Treaty) which means its nuclear facilities are open to surprise inspections. That is why El Baradei insists that Iran should be talked to, not threatened. Please note that there are countries such as the United States, Pakistan, Israel, and India which have not agreed to become members of NPT. There is no evidence of a nuclear weapon’s program in Iran. Iran has repeated, time and again, that if the pre-condition of suspending enrichment is removed, it will negotiate everything (including suspension of enrichment). Iranian nuclear facilities are spread out in the country. It is impossible to target them without horrific civilian causalities.

Consequences of a Potential Military Assault on Iran:

Iran has five times as many people and resources as Iraq. Hundreds of thousands (Daniel Ellsberg says millions) of innocent Iranian civilians will die if Iranian nuclear centers are targeted with the so-called bunker busters. Iran can retaliate with thousands of missiles targeting American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even if a few of these missiles are intercepted, the rest can inflict major casualties. Iran can make the narrow Straits of Hormuz an unsafe place for the oil tankers to pass through, in effect cutting a substantial part of the oil supply of the world. If desperate, Iran can hit oil tankers in the gulf causing major fuel shortage, and environmental pollution. As of now, al-Qaedeh does not have any sympathizers in Iran. Individual members trying to escape through Iran have been arrested. In the unfortunate event of an attack on Iran, a new front will open for al-Qaedeh recruiters. Iran sympathizers inside Iraq, Afghanistan — and elsewhere in the world — will find themselves engaged in a war with the U.S.

Current Issues (more on Iran)
Some of the misinformation spread against Iran gets refuted later but often the major media – which has carried the original “news” – overlooks the corrective statements. One such topic is the alleged help Iran is providing to the Taliban who fight the U.S. military in Afghanistan:

NATO commanders in Pakistan have long been aware that the Taliban has been dependent on Pakistan for its arms and ammunition. The Telegraph reported Sunday that a NATO report on a recent battle shows the Taliban fired an estimated 400,000 rounds of ammunition, 2,000 rocket-propelled grenades and 1,000 mortar shells and had stocked over one million rounds of ammunition, all of which came from Quetta, Pakistan during the spring months. Despite all of this, and despite the fact that the Taliban have been hostile to Iran from their very inception (in 2005, they killed 11 Iranian diplomats in Kabul), the hawks in the current American administration are still working on presenting Iran as supporting the Taliban to justify a possible military campaign against Iran. As Matt Miller who sent me some recent reports on this topic noted, these claims (most probably generated by Vice President Cheney’s supporters) appear to have been rebuffed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Dan McNeil, who issued unusually strong denials.
Thanks a lot Matt:
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/06/12/1832/

Art and Culture

* I will not include a painting slide show in this window. Instead, I will introduce you to an Iranian woman story-teller who is already gaining a reputation as the first Iranian woman Naqqal  (a performer of who reads/enacts stories of the celebrated Persian epic The Book of Kings by the 10th century poet Firdowsi of Tus). Naqqals usually did their story telling in coffee houses (in fact, tea houses because they serve tea rather than coffee!). Do watch the clip, even if you don’t know Persian. It is about four minutes, and does not require much explanation. Her voice recites the epic poetry in the background while you see images of her story-tellling, and of coffee houses in Iran: http://www.jadidmedia.com/images/stories/flash_multimedia/Gordtest/gordafarid_high.html

Fatemeh Habibizad (above)--the first Iranian woman Naqqal--a performer who reads/enacts the stories of the celebrated Persian epic The Book of Kings (see the link above for a terrific video of one of her performances).

Fatemeh Habibizad (above)--the first Iranian woman 'Naqqal'--a performer who reads/enacts the stories of the celebrated Persian epic "The Book of Kings" (see the link above for a terrific video of one of her performances).

* I will close this window, introducing you to an American woman story-teller, a writer friend I have not met yet, though we have corresponded for some time and read each other’s work: Meghan Nuttall Sayers. Meghan writes and weaves in Eastern Washington where she lives with her husband, three children, two sheep and a cat. Meghan has recently published  a delightful novel Anahita’s Woven Riddle (selected ALA’s top ten best books for young adults). This is an historical novel that weaves together rich details of 19th century Persian culture, Sufi poetry, romance and adventure. Meghan has kindly kept in touch since reading my book on Rumi a number of years ago. Following my critique of the May 27th NY Times essay that presented Iran as devoid of bookstores with readers who only read books that lend themselves to discussion with psychiatrists, Meghan sent a link to a very interesting piece called Colors of Iran: Images From Iran’s First International Children’s Book Festival, Kerman, March 2005: http://www.meghannuttallsayres.com/mideast/iran-icbf/. She is currently working on another book about the positive experiences of non-Iranians traveling to Iran.

I hope these rich and interesting cultural pieces have compensated for the unpleasant news we have have to refute on these windows. In the hope of leaving these frightening times behind, I wish you a very pleasant week.

Until the next Window on Iran.

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 29

Iranian Cyclists for Peace, Jafar Edrisi and Naseem Yousefi, are cycling around the world in an effort to spread their message of peace and friendship (see below for more about them and their trip). (Image courtesy of www.bbc.co.uk)

Iranian Cyclists for Peace, Jafar Edrisi and Naseem Yousefi, are cycling around the world in an effort to spread their message of peace and friendship (see below for more about them and their trip).

Dear All,

Greetings, after two weeks…and no windows. I hope you are all well. For me, it has been a very busy time. The commencement on Washington University campus has been as lively and colorful as ever. I am enjoying a smaller version of the festivities at home, as my own daughter graduates from high school this weekend. What am I doing sending a window on my daughter’s graduation weekend? I woke up this morning, and simply missed talking to you all. Furthermore, I have had queries about the windows, and about recent events in Iran, which made me think it would be good to open Window 29 even if on a briefer fashion than usual.

I have been traveling. I was away for a week sitting on a panel at MIT in Boston, and then on to New York. The panel at MIT was organized by
the Middle East Crisis Coalition and CASMII (the Campaign Against
Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran) and was titled
“Preventing a War on Iran.” Over 500 people attended. The panel was
also an occasion for me to have the pleasure of meeting Professor Noam
Chomsky, the brilliant linguist and renowned peace activist. It was
heart warming to see that so many people wanted to do something to
prevent a military confrontation with Iran. In the audience, there
were many subscribers to Windows on Iran. Close to a hundred of those
who were not signed up. If you are one of the newcomers to these
windows, welcome!

Dr. Fatemeh Keshavarz addressing the United Nations General Assembly (please click the link on the right for the video). (Image courtesy of www.un.org).

Dr. Fatemeh Keshavarz addressing the United Nations General Assembly (please click the link on the right for the video of her speech). (Image courtesy of http://www.un.org).

From Boston, I flew directly to New York, where I was to enjoy the great and unique experience of making a presentation at the General Assembly of the United Nations. At the suggestion of the President of the Assembly, a cultural debate had been organized for the representatives of the nations to switch from purely political issues to the cultural matters at the roots of political conflict.  This was a two-day event that brought some ministers of culture, high ranking religious leaders, and scholars to speak. The format of the debate was the usual one at the Assembly. Once we spoke, the representatives of nations asked questions and commented. At the end, we responded. It was absolutely delightful to be welcomed by the President of the Assembly and by the Secretary General, H.E. Ban Ki-moon. Here is the link to the video clip of the panel: http://webcast.un.org/ramgen/ga/61/ga070510am.rm . The panel is long. Around minute twenty-four the moderator introduces us, the three panelists. My presentation is about sixty minutes into the session.

Iranian Cyclists for Peace, Jafar Edrisi and Naseem Yousefi (visit their website at: http://www.rmc4peace.com/).

Iranian Cyclists Cycle for Peace

On May 10th 2007, 14 Iranian cyclists will travel city by city across ITALY, GERMANY, FRANCE, UK and US to communicate the pacifist message of Iranian people to other nations around the world as:

* We Iranians are peace loving people.
* We Iranians love all other nations.
* We Iranians wish to be a constructive member of the international community.

Current Events:

* Not all is peaceful and rosy. Some of you have been asking me about the situation of Dr. Haleh Esfandiari the Iranian American Scholar who was arrested in Iran about ten days ago. The Iranian news paper Keyhan which reflects the views of the religious right in Iran has made accusations of connections between Dr. Esfandiari and regime change attempts outside Iran. This is very unfortunate because security related accusations could imply closed trails and restrictions on contact with lawyers (as is the case with the Guantanamo detainees).The Iranian lawyer and Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi has announced that she will defend Dr. Esfandiari and her legal team in attempting to meet with Dr. Esfandiari. This troubling incident is bad news for those of us who work to empower the moderate forces in Iran. It shows that the outside threat of regime change and military campaign in Iran – far from helping the situation – leaves Iranian moderates powerless and gives the upper hand to extremists who prefer confrontation rather than cooperation with the west. Iranian academics and intellectuals have condemned this incident. We all hope for a speedy resolution of this troubling conflict. Dr. Esfandiari’s arrest may well be a response to the arrest of the five Iranian nationals who have been in American custody for months now. According to Iranian  news media, U.S. officials have indicated that these Iranians who have been detained in northern Iraq by U.S. forces could be released by June 21.

* On a totally different note, my wonderful American friends Judy and
Carl Ernst who just visited Iran have returned with lots of heart
warming stories of friendship and well wishing. Many Iranians told
them how they do NOT hate Americans and wish for the political
conflict to be resolved in peaceful ways. Judy and Carl have promised
me photographs which I will duly post on these windows.
* Many of you sent me information this week about a recent and very
positive Iran-related cultural event at the United States. Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice, accompanied by young artists from Iran and
Under Secretary of State Karen Hughes, toured an Iranian art exhibit,
“Wishes and Dreams”, May 10, at the Meridian International Center
where she praised Iran’s rich culture and the work of Iranian young
artists: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/may/1137.html

Iranian Americans in California

* Iranian Americans succeed in bringing positive change to American
perceptions of Iran. This includes a wide range of activities,
sometimes very different from the art exhibit mentioned above.
Recently, a  Blackwell medical textbook titled How the Immune System
Works, by Dr. Lauren Sompayrac was removed from many reading lists
thanks to the activism of the Iranian Americans. A required reading by
the Department of Molecular Genetics, Microbiology, and Immunology at
UMDNJ- Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, for example, the book
contains a passage (on p.49, 2nd edition) which draws an analogy
between the response of the immune system to pathogens and that of the
Defense Department “to a threat to our national security”, comparing
the would-be pathogens to “Iranian terrorists” who would potentially
“fire on one of our embassies” here in the United States. It is
shocking that a respectable publisher would allow this to appear in
print in the first place. (Thanks to  my friend Sara Ruebelt for
sharing this news).
* If you remember, I reported in Window 28, the sudden and unexplained
decision of the American Chemical Society not to renew the membership
of its  Iranian scientist members. Due to pressure from Iranian
American Scientists, the society reversed its decision.

* To get and idea of the kind of activities that the Iranian American
community in California engage in, please click here: http://www.nipoc.org/. Their calendar which is put together by the Network of Iranian American Professionals of Orange Country, NIPOC provides social, cultural, and political news. The calendar was forwarded to me by my friend, Minoo Riahi-sharifan. Thanks Minoo jan!

A painting by Sadegh Barirani (click on the link on the right for more of his work).

A painting by Sadegh Barirani (click on the link on the right for more of his work).

Visual Delight

And on to our weekly visual delight before the closing of this window. I would like, this time, to introduce you to two contemporary painters. Elham Bayati is a young and upcoming female artist of 27 who has already had multiple exhibits of her work. The same slide show cotains works of Sadegh Barirani, a more mature artist who has years of teaching experience in addition to producing his own work. As you will see in the slide show, Bayati and Barirani have very different styles. Click here: Bayati and Barirani Art Show.

Until our next window, 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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