Posts Tagged ‘Mahmoud Karimi-Hakkak’

Dear All,

Greetings, I hope Spring has arrived wherever you are. This Window will still be dedicated to celebrating Nowruz/Spring in Iran. Let’s start with the official version:

Official Nowruz Celebrations

While some clerics called for a cancellation of Nowruz celebrations this year, Mr. Ahmadinejad’s government made a big display of the new year festivities. The move was presumably aimed at  distancing the government from the less than popular clerics and bringing it closer to the popular sentiments. Whether this was successful or not, it led to some visually striking haftsins (Nowruz table) reconstructions like this one in parks:

The Prominent Conservative Cleric refuses to Apologize

The political scene was nowhere as neat and rosy as the above haftsin would suggest. Ayatollah Vahid Khorasani, the conservative cleric who had voiced sharp criticism of the government refused to take it back despite the pressure. “I thought long and hard about what I said,” he declared “and am not going to change it.” Read more on this here

Long Live Shirazis! Special Nowruz Celebration in Shiraz

Unofficial Nowruz celebrations had more political flavor — of the anti-government kind. One such gathering was held at the tomb of major poet of Shiraz, Hafiz. His tomb draws thousands of Iranian and international visitors throughout the year. The clip I have posted below, was sent to me by a dear friend from Shiraz with a three-word commentary: “long live Shirazis!” This year’s new year begun way after midnight. despite the timing, thousands of Shirazis gathered around the tomb of Hafiz to greet the new year while renewing their vow to bring democracy to Iran:

A Musical Nowruz Celebration

Below is a song by a young Iranian group called “Ajam Band.” What they sing is a combination of rap singing and and intentionally exaggerated playful folk lyrics set to a traditional Nowruz tune:

President Obama’s Nowruz Message to Iran

Still on the topic of Nowruz, President Obama sent another message to Iranian. If his previous Nowruz message was shared with Iranians only partially, this one will be censored in full:

Image of the Week

Someone had fun with snow in Iran, ask a friend who knows Persian to read and translate it for you:

This Week’s Visual Delight

Our painter of the week, Neda Moin Afshari was born in 1981. She has a B.A. in painting from University of Science & Culture . Below, I post three of Neda’s mixed media drawings exhibited in Elaheh Gallery in Tehran in 2009. A permanent member of the Iranian Society of Painters, Neda’s works have been widely exhibited in individual and group exhibitions particularly popular with galleries in Tehran. Furthermore, Neda’s painting was selected in international competition, “Human Habitation” London 2009 Exhibitions. With that in mind, I hope you enjoy the mixed media works of Neda I post for you here:

(Neda Moin Afshari, 1981-)

And this one:

And the third:

Have a great week,


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Dear All,

A belated Happy Nowruz, Persian New Year/the beginning of spring, to you all. Or, as Iranians will say it in a combination of calligraphy and imagery “Happy Spring!”

The First Nowruz Gift

On this celebration, which lasts for days, Iranians visit friends and relatives and give each other gifts. In that spirit, I have a gift for you all. Less than two hours ago, the Human Rights Council voted 22 to 7 to establish a United Nation’s special mechanism to monitor the human rights in Iran. This is a great victory for the people of Iran and a failure for the Islamic Republic which has been lobbying long an hard to prevent this. Of particular importance were the voting of Brazil, Senegal, and South Korea in favor of the resolution. Check out the details here.

More Nowruz Gifts

A while back, when Mr. Ahmadinejad visited Tehran Polytechnic, a student by the name of Yusof Rashidi held up a sing that read “Fascist President, you are not welcome in Polytechnic.” You can see the controversial photo which earned him international fame:

We now know that the fear that he was going to be executed was unfounded. Rashidi was recently released after a hundred days in prison. If you know Persian you can read more about him here.

And Now More About Nowruz Itself

First, Nowruz is celebrated by many besides Iranians including Tajiks and Kurds.   You can read about Nowruz, its special rituals and their meaning here.

Then you can enjoy this photo essay about the Nowruz ritual of setting the Haft Sin by Nazi Kaviani

Mohammad Khatami Gets Warm Reception

The Islamic Republic is at a loss as to how to handle Mohammad Khatami, the reformist two-term President of the Islamic Republic (1996-2004) under whose leadership social and cultural reform started to take place in Iran. He is not corrupt, he is not angry, and he does not have many enemies. So far, the strategy of the regime has been to present him as timid and subservient to the wishes of the West. But these attempts seem to be of little effect on his popularity. On the eve of Nowruz, Mr. Khatami visited Ardakan, a small city in central Iran. Although the visit took place under the cover of the night, and security forces did not allow publicity for it, he received a  warm welcome from the population. This reception is particularly important because the regime claims that the reformists are popular only in large cities while Ahmadinejad has a strong base in small towns and villages. Here is a clip from Mr. Khatami’s visit:

March 8

I did not have a chance to report on the March 8 events in Iran. Even before women start any Marches on Women’s Day, Tehran turned into a garrison again with anti-riot forces harassing people randomly:

It is very difficult to get clips of the protests. Here is one sent by a dear friend I shall not name:

Also, you can watch a video of March 8 demonstration on face book here

Education Under Attack

The Iranian government has been conducting a systematic assault on the Iranian universities particularly in the area of the Humanities. Any discussion that subjects the regime to analysis and possible criticism is viewed as a hostile act. The latest in this regard is a statement issued by the ministry of higher education forbidding the Iranian students studying abroad from doing research on Iran related topics. In an interview on March 8, Mohammad Hussein Majlisara called such studies “pointless” and said the rule particularly applies to the students who are not using government scholarship (in other words, their subject of study is not controlled by the government). Majlisara said the Iranian government will suggest permitted topics to the students! Here is BBC report on the subject.


The Green Movement for Democracy in Iran has inspired many artists across the globe. The most recent inspiration has led to a collaboration between Mahmood Karimi Hakkak, path-breaking  Professor of Theater at Siena College and the paragon of freethinking, William Shakespeare: for more information on HamletIRAN, checkout the website and the Facebook page.

Painting of the Week

You always enjoy the paintings posted on these windows. Let me leave you with two beautiful paintings by Hoda Kashiha who had an exhibit in Tehran a month ago. She was born in 1986 and received her B.A. in painting from the School of Fine Arts in Tehran University. Here are two of her works from the exhibit, both ink on cardboard:

and this one, both created in 2010:

Have a great spring!


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A painting by the Iranian artist Mansoureh Panahgar. All of her paintings are so vivid and strikingly beautiful that it was hard decide which one to include. Please see the link at the end of this 'Windows on Iran' for more of her works.

A painting by the Iranian artist Mansoureh Panahgar. All of her paintings are so vivid and strikingly beautiful that it was hard decide which one to include. Please see the link at the end of this 'Windows on Iran' for more of her works.

Dear All,

Greetings! I hope you are all well. Many of you have asked for my comments on Mr. Ahmadinejad’s presentations/interview at Columbia. I promise to do that after I have had a few days to gather a summary of important points. This is likely to be the next window.

The current window is number 40 and that is a fact worth celebration. Number 40 is a significant number in Persian culture. First, people are supposed to mature at age 40 and the 40th day after many events is remembered or celebrated. Second, I am proud of being able to keep up with preparing these windows in the evenings. When I started them, I was not sure how long will I be able to continue them.

Third, a respected colleague has asked me to teach a course on the basis of these windows. I am really excited about this and thinking about the best ways to bring the material to the classroom.

Finally and most importantly, as I sent out these windows during the past year, the number of subscribers tripled! And these are only the direct recipients. Many of you share these windows with others.  To celebrate the 40th Window on Iran, let us focus on good things.

Iranian American Presence in the U.S.

Iranian American Omid Kordestani

Iranian American Omid Kordestani is currently the senior vice president for global sales and business development at Google. He recently gave the commencement address at San Jose State University (click the link on the left to see his address) (image courtesy of http://www.fogcityjournal.com).

Let us open this window celebrating Iranian Americans as a vibrant immigrant community who continue to turn the opportunities available to them here into stunning success for themselves and the community at large. Watch a few minutes of this year’s commencement address at SJSU by Omid Kordestani, 42, the senior vice president for global sales and business development at Google sent by cousin Abe:

Iranian and Israeli Artists Collaborate to Avert War

A great friend I have made through these windows, Joy, usually sends wonderful Iran-related links for the windows. Recently, she sent me the link to a web site that describes a collaborative play by an Israeli and an Iranian playwrite, Motti Learner and Mahmoud Karimi-Hakkak among others. In the play which is called Benedictus, a Jew and a Muslim work to avert a war on Iran. What Joy does not know is that only yesterday, we hosted Motti Learner, the Israeli playwrite, on our campus here at Washington University. He gave an absolutely wonderful talk about the ways in which drama can serve peace. Do visit the site to read about the collaborative work. And see Motti Learner’s plays if you can. I know I’d be lining up for the tickets if his work is staged anywhere I can go: http://www.goldenthread.org/0708/benedictus.htm (also, please click the video below to hear from the writers and learn more about the play).


This Friendliest of Countries!

Yes, it is about Iran. Who says it? Lonely Planet World Guide! Thanks
Rostam for sharing this rave review:  “Axis of evil’? Most visitors,
after experiencing this friendliest of countries, couldn’t agree less.
For culture seekers, Iran has magnificent ruins of ancient cities,
glorious mosques and mausoleums, and museums so interesting they’re
bound to leave your feet sore.”  Here is the link to the web site of
one of the world’s most popular travel guide publishers:


* In Iran, women musicians were honored in Talare Vahdat in Tehran last
July. For pictures of various group and individual performers visit
this site: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/jul/1066.html.


World famous guitarist Lily Ashfar.

World famous guitarist Lily Afshar.

* On a related note, the first woman in the world to earn a Doctorate of Music in guitar performance, an Iranian American, Lily Afshar is going to perform in St. Louis in January. Her program will include music from her native country Iran performed on the Persian traditional instrument Seh-tar.  For more information on this great artist, visit her website at: http://www.lilyafshar.com/ (thanks to Sara for the website).


Mahan Esfahani

Mahan Esfahani

* Iranian Americans are playing an increasingly significant role in the non-Iranian musical scene in the U.S. The harpsichord player Mahan Isfahani wins international acclaim: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/sep/1261.html


* Not entirely possible to avoid politics, I’m afraid. My husband, Ahmet Karamustafa, who is always on the lookout for positive news with relation to Iran, has supplied a great short article on the dreaded question of war on Iran by a very prominent scholar, Immanuel Wallerstein. You’d be happy to know that he ends the article with the statement: “in my view the likelihood of such ‘desperate’ action to prevail is quite low, if not entirely impossible.”! http://www.agenceglobal.com/Article.asp?Id=1361

* Another step away from a war on Iran came last week from a very
important military figure, the former U.S. Commander John Abizaid. He
suggested that a nuclear-armed Iran may not be such a threat. “Iran is
not a suicide nation,” said the General “I mean, they may have some
people in charge that don’t appear to be rational, but I doubt that
the Iranians intend to attack us with a nuclear weapon.” While I hope
we move in the direction of demilitarization of the region including
nuclear weapons, it is reassuring to know that important military
figures such as General Abizaid opt for the more middle of the road
approach: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/mochila.php?articleId=9037252&channelId=73&buyerId=talkingpointsmemo_com400732&buid=.


Iranian artist Mansoureh Panahgar.

Iranian artist Mansoureh Panahgar (image courtesy of http://www.elahe.net).

Visual Delight

For our visual delight, this week I introduce the work of a young woman painter Mansoureh Panahgar. Panahgar was born in Tehran in 1976. As you will see, her work is very different from the paintings of other young artists whom I have introduced here. She combines realistic and abstract art. The theme of antique objects is particularly prominent in her work. The objects themselves appear with realistic clarity against abstract backdrops of softer colors. Please click here: Mansoureh Panahgar Painting Show. Enjoy!

With that, I think it is time to close the window for this week. Have a great week!

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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