Posts Tagged ‘northern iran’

Dear All,

I hope you are all well. The events related to the invasion of the British Embassy in Iran keeping us in the headlines. As we are going to dive right into not-so-pretty political discussions and pictures, I want to open this window with a view of the ordinary non-political people and natural scenes from North of Iran. Just visit this site, scroll down, look at the pictures, read and enjoy, here. I do think we need sites like this because our visual vocabulary has become so limited to guns, demonstrations, and rows of prayer — which exist, no doubt. However, they should not mask peaceful cities and their ordinary people.

Invasion of the British Embassy by “Students”

Now you can watch the not-so-pretty scene of invading the British embassy. If you have any doubts that the crowd is small and mobilized by the government, ask two simple questions: why do the cameras not show us a long shot of the crowd, and why is there such a heavy presence of the official media in the first place, here.

The event of invading the British embassy, and its residential garden, is still hard to understand.  As pieces of information surface gradually, it becomes clear that the heavily publicized release of the IAEA report on the Iranian nuclear situation in early November triggered a series of events which seem to have got us where we are now. The release of the report was followed by talk of further sanctions, even possibility of military action by western officials. See the chronology of some of the important events here. Weeks later a major explosion shook a military base near Tehran and killed 27 people including the founder of the Iranian missile program. Now it seems the explosion has been more extensive than initially thought, here. Amidst all of this, the British government declared a special sanction on the Iranian Central Bank, a move truly devastating to Iranian economy particularly the small businesses.

If you add to the above picture that the British government has been extremely unpopular and held responsible for historical disasters such as the 1953 coup that toppled the democratically elected and popular Prime Minister of Iran Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh, it is not hard to see why the Iranian authorities could even hope for sympathy in targeting the British. If you are interested in reading a superbly researched and highly readable account of the toppling of Dr. Mosaddegh, I refer you to Stephen Kinzer’s: However, as I said, the majority view inside and outside Iran is that the event was staged by the segment of the government taking orders from the Supreme Leader Mr. Ali Khamenei. Here is an interview with Mr. Hussein Alizadeh, a defecting Iranian diplomat on the subject.

Deepening of the Rift?

Interestingly enough, while the reactions in the official media range from adamant to hostile, the Iranian Foreign Office has twice expressed regret about the incident, here. Furthermore, the invasion of the British Embassy took place shortly after the Iranian President, Mr. Ahmadinejad had declared he is ready to speak with European officials about the nuclear issue. Whatever may or may not have emerged for such talks, the invasion incident indicates the deepening of the rift between the President and the Supreme Leader.

An even more visible rift is one that gets deeper everyday between the Iranian (particularly young) people and regime. The shocking effect of the attack on the British Embassy in Iran has left many Iranians  sad and confused. The general feeling among the general populations in Iran is “We do not want to return to where we were almost thirty years ago with the American Embassy.”  Nothing can illustrate the rift better than the picture I post below. Each Friday, a group of young Iranian are brought to the Friday prayer in which a political sermon is delivered. I don’t think the picture needs a caption just compare the generations:

Just compare the difference between the reaction of the two generations to the Imam speaking during the Friday Prayer

What if Iran does not Use its Bomb?

I have so far been focusing on the actions and reactions inside Iran. There are interesting developments at our end as well, including politicians worrying about the fact that the main disaster is if  Iran makes a bomb but does not use it!! This is not a joke. Watch it for yourself:

Hope We are not Heading for another War

With the kind of diplomatic thinking reflected in the above video, let us hope we are not heading for another war. On that note, I wrote a poem called “Giggling in Fallujah” a few years ago when the Iraq war was in its most destructive faze in Fallujah. I dedicated the poem to all young war-stricken boys and marines maimed for life. Last week I published the poem on the Huffington Post in the hope that some of us think about preventing another Fallujah from happening. You can read it here.

Music From North of Iran

I opened this window with beautiful scenes from Northern Iran. This is the region on the coast of the Caspian Sea  south of the Alborz mountain. The Alborz mountain traps a lot of moisture from the sea and the rain turns the region green. The folk music from this area reflects its natural liveliness: fast tempo love songs and group dances. Here is one such song to close our window:

Okay, time to close this window. Hope you all have a great rest of the week.



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The Iranian womens rowing team, who recently placed third international in a competition in Bulgaria--from left to right are team members Sahra Zlqadr, Saba Shaiesteh, Minoo Zargari, and Mina Amini (see below for many more pictures of Iranian women sports players).

The Iranian women's rowing team, who recently placed third internationally in a competition in Bulgaria--from left to right are team members Sahra Zlqadr, Saba Shaiesteh, Minoo Zargari, and Mina Amini (see below for many more pictures from the women's sports scene in Iran).

Dear All,

I hope your summer is going well. I am preparing for a presentation and reading in DC next weekend and then a few weeks of rest in Istanbul, Turkey in the month of July. So,  I predict the month of July would be somewhat quieter. That is to say, you will – most probably – receive fewer windows.  Before the July slow down, however, I have news for you.



My Recent Book On “St. Louis on the Air”

Reading More than Lolita in Tehran by Fatemeh Keshavarz

"Jasmine and Stars: Reading More than Lolita in Tehran" by Fatemeh Keshavarz. "Jasmine and Stars" is a cogent critique of Azar Nafisi's "Reading Lolita in Tehran" and the larger New Orientalist Narrative that her book represents.

I don’t usually promote my own work in these windows. However, something special is coming up. Tomorrow morning at 11:00, Don March the host of “St. Louis on the Air” FM 90.7, NPR will be talking to me about my latest book Jasmine and Stars: Reading more than Lolita in Tehran. Here is the link to an on line description of the book if you are interested. Do listen to the show tomorrow, if you can. I will be talking about the book and many other Iran related issues, I am sure, as the callers call in:  http://www.payvand.com/news/07/jun/1221.html

NY Times Does it Again!

It looks like we need a permanent section in these windows to correct and clarify the NY Times  reporting on Iran. Take a look at the letter that my friend Professor Ghamari (Univ. of Illinois) wrote to the editor, about an article in today’s NY Times called “Iran Cracks Down on Dissent”:

“Dear Editor:
The photograph used in the story about “Iran Cracks Down on Dissent,” in the Sunday June 24 edition is misleading.  While disturbing on its own right, the picture has nothing to do with the crack down on dissent. This episode happened in late May as part of Tehran’s Police Department anti-corruption project to secure the safety of “rough neighborhoods” in the southern part of the city.  Those who were paraded in public, as shown in the picture, had nothing to do with “western style clothing or haircuts,” as Neil MacFarquhar asserted. They were thugs and drug dealers who had terrorized these neighborhoods.  After the publication of these pictures, the Tehran Police Chief acknowledged that the methods used in these operations were unjustified.  While residents of those neighborhoods supported the crack down on gang members, they were also scandalized by the disgusting public humiliation of these thugs perpetrated by the police. I would appreciate it if you publish the correction.”


Visual Delight

A beautiful shot of the sunrise in Northern Iran (see the link below for many more pictures).

A beautiful shot of a sunrise in Northern Iran (see the link below for many more pictures).

It is often assumed that Iran consists, mostly, of hot and arid
deserts. While central Iran does have desert areas, the north is lush
and green with forests, rice fields, and tea plantations. I made a
slide show  for you of photos of northern Iran circulated by my friend
Bahar Bastani. Click here: Northern Iran. Enjoy.

Current Issues:

The U.S. commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan rejected the charge
that Iran is getting arms to the Taliban fighters for the second time
in less than two weeks.

Iranian Women in Sports

Iranian woman golfer (see below for many more pictures and and stories about the womens sports scene in Iran).

Iranian woman golfer (see below for many more pictures and and stories about the women's sports scene in Iran).

If you read Persian you can check out the online Iranian Women’s Sport
magazine Shirzanan. If you don’t, just look at the latest photos of
the Iranian women athletes. Iranian women skaters constitute 60% of
all the skaters in the country:

Kickboxing and Kung Fu are among  popular sports among Iranian women

Mahdiyeh Montazeran won the first international gold medal for the Iranian women in fencing:

And, finally, Iranian women won third place in the rowing competitions in Bulgaria: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article218.

Until the next window, 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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A stunning view from the shore of Kish Island, Iran. Kish Island is a very popular tourist attraction in Iran. Please see below for more photos.

A stunning view from the shore of Kish Island, Iran. Kish Island is a very popular tourist attraction in Iran. Please see below for more photos.

Dear All,

We have cause for celeberation! I know, it seems strange, but I have my reasons. First, this is the 20th window! We have lasted this long. I don’t know how I have managed but here it is. Perhaps mostly because you have been cheering me on (even though I don’t get to write back thank you notes). Here is a big THANK YOU to you All.

Second, the demand for these windows has been unbelievable. In the past two weeks alone about 100 new subscribers have been added to the listserv.  I would like to acknowledge, again, the help I get from
JoAnn Achelpohl in adding new names to the list. Do please continue to forward these messages to others and if you have anything I can share with onlookers, please share with me.

Visual Delights

To celeberate the 20th window, I have a gift for you: a photograph by
a teen age Iranian boy called Shabab Golchin. He took the photo, which
he called “love” in northern Iran for a UNESCO photography
competition. I am sending you the photo, courtesy of my friend Zari
Taheri. By the way, Shabab got the first place in the competition. You
will agree when you see it!

Photo entitled "Love" by Shabab Golchin. This photo was taken in northern Iran and won UNESCO's photo competition.

Photo entitled

A series of black and white bleak images from very poor areas of Iran
have been circulating, titled “Modern Iran” wih an exclamation mark.
Yes, those poor areas exist. But so do beautifully designed affluent
places. Take a look at Kish Island in the south. It is now one of the

most popular tourist attractions in Iran. Click here to see some photos

of Kish Island: Kish Island in Southern Iran.

Some young Iranians enjoying themselves at a mall on Kish Island.

Some young Iranians enjoying themselves at a mall on Kish Island.

A large mall on Kish Island.

A large mall on Kish Island.

Current Issues:

The American public is not ready for a confrontation with Iran. The
hawks in the administarion are feeling the pressure. Article after
article point to the fact that the attempt to demonize Iran – as the
source of American deaths in Iraq – is not working. This theory was
introduced to replace the scenario “Iran, a nuclear threat to the
world” because that was not working either. The conflict no longer
feels inevitable. Americans do not want another war. The war machine
works by presenting the war as inevitable. But that is not what
Americans are saying. Just take a look at the following articles, and
PLEASE circulate. In a democracy like U.S., the will of the people is
the most vibrant source of hope.

Here is the most critical piece concerning the credibility of the US
claim that Iran supplies the Iraqi resurgency with weapons. I share
this piece with you courtesy of my husband Ahmet Karamustafa.

So, we do pull out. What happens? A very interesting article by the
independent journalist Robert Dreyfuss, sent to me by my friend Frank
Flinn, discusses the various scenarios of an Iraq after an American
pull out and argues that the fear of a disaster in the absence of US
is not justified :

For an interesting discussion of the debates about the nuclear issue
in Iran, click here: Internal Iranian debate over nuclear issue.

Many specialists think that there is room for peaceful exchange with
Iran. The leading IR theorist Fukuyama is among them. He proposes
Serious Iran Diplomatic Incentives.

The American poeple’s skepticism is not misplaced. Despite the
administrations insistence that things are different this time, the
exact same line of thought is being pursued. Watch for yourself:

Forough Farrokhzad  (1935-1967)

Forough Farrokhzad

Forough Farrokhzad

It is a long time since we have had the time to open these windows on Persian literary and artistic figures. Last week, however, was a very special time. On February 13, many Iranians commemorated the 40th anniversary of the death of Forough Farroukhzad, one of the most vibrant, contraversial, and loved poets of contemporary Iran. Farrokhzad wrote with courage about herself as a woman, but her work did more than fight for gender issues. It gave Iran some of its most lyrical and complex  poetry in recent times. In addition to composing poetry, Farrokhzad tried her talent at writing film scripts, directing, and making documentaries. On February 13, 1967 she died in a car accident. Iranians refer to her affectionately as javdaneh Forough “The Eternal Forough.” Her collections of poems sell thousands (her last collection called Another Birth has been translated into
English). I wish I had the time to gift you a translation of one of her long poems. As it is, we have to make do with an excerpt. I attach a stanza from a beautifully crafted poem called “Let us have faith in
the beginning of the cold season.” Please click here: Forough Farrokhzad “Let us haveFaith in the Beginning of the Cold Season”.

I wish you all 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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