Posts Tagged ‘Pegah Ahangarani’

Dear All,

Greetings! I hope your July is not too hot wherever in the world you are. I would like to open this window without further ado with the most important topic of the day.

The Latest on the Segregation in Universities

In the last window update I spoke about the latest danger to the women’s equal opportunities in Iran, namely the looming threat of setting gender specific classrooms (and perhaps ultimately separate universities in Iran). The topic which has been revived by extreme conservatives is not taken as seriously by all Iranian academics.  In some observer’s view, the return to this issue is in preparation for the parliamentary elections in December 2012. In other words, the hardliners are trying to appeal to their base, and by the same token, those who oppose the idea are banking on the fact that the plan is very unpopular, and practically improbable if not totally impossible.

While these readings of the situation may not be invalid, the threat to Iranian women’s equal access to first rate educational resources is so important that even a slim chance of segregation in universities must not be taken lightly.

Please Sign our Petition before Closing this Window!

Given the significance of the situation, a number of us (academics based outside and inside Iran) have written a letter to Iranian University Presidents and Administrators asking them NOT to allow the segregation to be implemented. The petition is on line and has already received hundreds of signatures from people all over the world. We are so pleased that the letters is turning into a global effort. Please go on line here now and support our letter to these Iranian educational authorities by signing the petition and sharing it with friends and colleagues you think would like to sign. We may have to send the letter soon, so please do it at your earliest convenience.

VOA Does a Special on Gender Segregation Plan for Iranian Universities

Fortunately the news media, which are followed by large numbers of listeners with interest in Middle Eastern Issues, are taking keen interest in this matter. Last Monday,Voice of America did a special episode in its popular program Ofogh “horizon” on this very issue. I was interviewed on the program. For those of you who like to watch the program (which is in Persian), the links are here and here. I have already received thank you e-mail messages from Iran.

In an interesting gesture, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has expressed opposition to segregating men and women in Iran universities. Is he trying to win the hearts of the young Iranians? Well, he might. But is it not too little and too late? Read more about it here.

Pegah Ahangarani, the Woman who is no Longer Missing

After a week of being missing, actor and documentary maker Pegah Ahangarani called her family from Evin Prison today

Pegah Ahangarani was scheduled to be in Germany (July 4-12) to publish her personal coverage of Iranian women soccer players for the German Deutsche Welle. The day before her trip she received a call from Iranian intelligence authorities to the effect that she will be arrested if she goes to the airport. Even though Ms. Ahangarani cancelled her trip, she disappeared about a week later. Ironically, today after Ms. Ahangarani made a brief and nervous phone call to her family from Evin Prison, everyone felt relieved. At least, she is alive. Today Iranians who went to movies chanted slogans in support of Pegah Ahangarani and added a few “death to dictator”s as well before they left movie theaters. No one has been arrested in this connection yet. Click here to read about Gooya news report on the public support for her.

There is a Pattern Here

The same thing happened to Mariam Majd an Iranian woman photographer and sports writer recently. Photo Journalist Mariam Majd got arrested in her house the night before her trip. She has a special interest in women in sports and was similarly scheduled to be in Germany on June 17 to photograph the FIFA Women’s World Cup. She was arrested by four man – believed to be security forces – who searched her apartment the night before and took her away. Majd was first believed to be missing until sources close to her family informed the media that she had been taken to Evin Prison. You can read about the incident and follow her story on the International Campaign for Human Rights here.  These woman participate in no subversive activity. However their powerful personal presence poses a threat to the regime and the ideal of piety and womanhood it tries to promote.

Iranian Movies Win Major Prize at St. Petersburg Festival

Despite the tremendous pressure on journalism and art to express no critical view of the current culture and politics in Iran, Iranian film-makers and journalists continue to produce lively art that has the courage to look at the social reality in Iran and elsewhere.

Asghar Farhadi's Nader and Simin: A Separation continues to win top prize in international Festivals

Farhadi’s film added St. Petersburg to its previous honors. Read more at Payvand News of Iran.

Visual Delight – Paintings from Aida Zoghi

Let’s close this window, as usual, with images of delightful paintings by an Iranian woman painter, this time Aida Zoghi.

Aida Zoghi born in 1973 received her B.A. degree in painting

 from Alzahra University. She has had person exhibits in Iran.

  The Paintings you see here are from 2003 and 2004

And, another oil on canvas from 2003 to close this window for us beautifully:

Have great week!



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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):
* 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

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:

* 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.”


* 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

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:

* 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:

* 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:

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 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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