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Posts Tagged ‘Rumi’

Greetings Everyone,

Hope you are all doing well and cold weather has not arrived in your neighborhood yet. Lots are happening inside and outside Iran. Certainly, we (US and Iran) are back in the headlines. So, without much delay, let us start with latest and the hottest.

The Latest IAEA Report, is Iran Building a Bomb?

No one can guarantee that some time in the future Iran would not reach a point to be able to build a bomb. That cannot be guaranteed about any country. So, I won’t take a position on that. In what follows I’ll give you a summary of what is told to us by the media about the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), how substantial it is,  the measures likely to be taken by the US and other western powers, the Iranian response, and the general outcome of the crisis for Iranians in particular.

The Media Spin

Before the report was published, the US media flooded the news with references to yet another proof that the Iranian government appears to be determined to build a nuclear device and that it remains defiant in the face of the anxiety felt by the “world community.”  Four days ago, Reuters reported based on Washington Post quoting David Albright, a former IAEA official who reviewed the agency’s findings, as saying that based on intelligence the U.N. agency has concluded that Iran “has sufficient information to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device” using highly enriched uranium as its fissile core.” I draw your attention to the fact that piece, written prior to the release of the IAEA report, was still based on the old argument of Iranian “know-how” rather than action, the full article here.

The same day, CASMII (Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran), which is very critical of the way information regarding this matter reaches the American people, posted a joint statement by CASMII and The Virginia Defender called Tightening the Noose: the IAEA Report on Iran’s Nuclear Program. In this statement, you can read a complete counter perspective to the mainstream US media here. Since the release of the report others have gotten busy finding holes in its claims. The American historian and investigative journalist Gareth Porter wrote in an article for antiwar.com that “the Soviet nuclear scientist” which the report suggests helped Iran with its nuclear program is not in fact a nuclear scientist, full article here.  Justin Raimondo, author and editorial director of antiwar.com himself published a piece critical of the report suggesting that “may,” “might,” and “could” qualify practically every claim made in the report. The piece is called Five minutes to Zero Hour here.

Iran’s Response

Iran’s response is so far as predictable as the IAEA report itself: these are western conspiracies against us. On Wednesday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran “won’t retreat one iota” from its nuclear program, and he insisted again that Iran has no plans for weaponization, here. The Iranian official media took full advantage of yet another God-given opportunity to reveal the United States’ real face as the enemy of Iran. No doubt, the upcoming support the U.S. will express for harsher sanctions against the Iranian people will also find widespread publicity in the Iranian mass media. Today, in the daily Keyhan, Hussein Shari’atmadari, the most official voice of the Iranian Leader, Mr. Ali Khamenei, analized the IAEA report and thanked the agency for releasing such a flimsy and unsubstantiated report. Here, if you read Persian.

The new IAEA report, a God's gift to the Iranian leader?

This is a God’s gift for the Leader in another sense too. While the attention of the world is focused on the vague suspicion of building a bomb, Mr. Ali Khamenei is steering the Iranian Judiciary system, slowly but surely, toward changes that are aimed at curbing the smallest possibilities of democratic change. He has gone as far as saying that it is not out of the question to do away with the position of the President in the Iranian political system. Right now, he is testing the waters by having officials making announcements about such possible changes and then refuting them, an old tactic used by the IR before. Last week, a senior parliamentary figure spoke about amendments to the constitution that may lead to eliminating the presidency altogether. A day later, he announced that was his personal understanding, not an official announcement by the leader’s office. Here, again in Persian.

Where To Go From Here?

By now, you have an idea of my personal stance on the IAEA Report: despite the widespread publicity it received, the report appears to add very little of substance to what we know about the situation. And probably, like me, you are thinking, okay where do we go from here? Two kinds of outcomes seem to be on the horizon when one looks at the reactions in the popular media. Carrying an opinion piece by Jasmin Ramsey, Aljazeera views the events surrounding the report as part of a Washington attempt to isolate Iran further and pave the way for a new conflict in the Middle East, here. I personally do not think a military option, particularly on a large scale, to be a possibility. Given the fact that even targeted attacks could lead to uncontrollable escalation, I believe much of the support for military action is often aimed toward making broader sanctions look like a soft, even merciful act.

The Possibility of Broader Sanctions

Many fear the possibility of broader sanctions against Iran. I share this anxiety as I believe such sanctions do not effect the ruling government but the common masses, particularly at the low end of the scale.  I know, through family and friends in Iran, that the ordinary people are those who get penalized by not having access to proper medication, nutrition or other necessary means to live a normal life. Small businesses also break down as they do not have access to official channels to bypass the sanctions.  How Iraqi children suffered and perished as a result of medicine and food shortages because of sanctions is still a recent memory. As such, I personally consider sanctions that effect main populations to be “weapons of mass destruction.” Here is a piece posted  by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) called Don’t punish the Iranian People: Say no to Broad Sanctions, here.

And so we are back with the main question. Where to go from hereTrita Parsi , the award winning author and president and founder of the NIAC, addresses this very issue in a piece called A glimpse inside the Iranian Nukes, here. I find Trita to be a very insightful commentator and a voice of wisdom. I certainly recommend his (Yale University Press) award winning book Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States to all interested in the region. Take a look here.

Time to Cheer up!

And take a glimpse of some of the people who will actually get effected by broader sanctions against Iran. Watch this lively folk group which recently performed music from the south of the country. You would be interested to know that this folk performance includes a classical component as the main vocalist is singing quatrains of one of the Iranian 11th century master poets and mathematicians Omar Khayyam.

My Recent Piece on Rumi

I recently wrote a piece for the Huffington Post about the medieval poet and mystic Jalal al-Din Rumi in whose work joy is primary. I’d love to share that with you, here.

Visual Delight!

And as you know, we cannot close these windows without a visual delight from Iran. Will give you two paintings of a young artist Mahnaz Sorooshnasab born in 1973.  I leave you with these splashes of color and wish you a great weekend.

Best, Fatemeh

Mahnaz Sorooshnasab has a B.A. from Alzahra University

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Windows on Iran 52

A painting by Iranian painter Iman Maleki of a group of Iranian men enjoying some setar, tar, oud, and ney music. Please see the link at the end of this 'Window' for more of his fantastic paintings.

A painting by world-famous Iranian painter Iman Maleki, depicting a group of Iranian men relaxing and enjoying some traditional Persian music being played on the setar, tar, oud, and ney. Please see the link at the end of this 'Window' for more of his works.

Dear All,

Greetings. I hope you are continuing to enjoy the summer. My summer has turned out to be as lively as the academic year usually is. Let me briefly report.

* Last week I got together with my undergraduate classmates in a Shiraz University reunion held in San Diego! San Diego and Shiraz are both beautiful cities, in different ways. We had a panel organized on Rumi’s poetry. Besides that, I read poetry to music.

* Another exciting piece of news is that I have accepted to be the honorary Co-Chair of a vibrant emerging organization called “Iranians For Peace” (IFP). Our Board consist of five very able and dedicated women of Iranian heritage (more to be added). The main goal of this non-partisan group is to prevent war through promoting peaceful cultural education on Iran. On some level, this is what I have been engaged in for a sometime. These windows are an example of that. I hope you get a chance to visit our website, stay abreast of the activities, and provide us with your support: http://www.iraniansforpeace.net.

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* On the subject of my summer activities, let me give the links to two articles which I have recently published. On July 16, I had an editorial in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the link is: “A 21st-century warning from a 13th-century poet.”

* And on August 2nd, I had a piece published in the online newsletter Counterpunch: http://www.counterpunch.org/keshavarz08022008.html.  I hope you find them useful!

Who Are Iranian Americans?

* Enough of my activities. Many Americans are working hard to bring about an understanding of the diversity of Iranians in Iran and in the US. Watch this fascinating clip which was sent to me by my friend, and a board member of the IFP, Leila Zand: http://www.searchles.com/channels/show/4563 (or view below!).
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Arsalan Kazemi (above) is the first Iranian to receive a NCAA basketball scholarship (image courtesy of www.sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

Arsalan Kazemi (above) is the first Iranian to receive a NCAA basketball scholarship (image courtesy of http://www.sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

What do Do Iran and America Exchange?

* Sometimes it appears that Iran and the U.S. only trade harsh political attacks. The truth is more interesting exchanges take place as well, but somehow do not qualify as news. Once I reported in these windows that the American women softball team was in Iran for a match with their Iranian counterparts. A lot of you were surprised. Well, here is another fun headline which does not make it to your evening news: An Isfahani young man, Arsalan Kazemi, the first Iranian to get an NCAA scholarship to play basketball in the US. Take a look at him in action. Thanks to my friend Omid Safi who has shared this interesting piece of news: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/luke_winn/07/15/kazemi/index.html

* Before I put the finishing touches to this window, I recieved a great clip from another friend Ladan Foroughi-Hedayati related to the subject of Iranian basketball. It is an MSNBC report on the recent visit of the Iranian Basketball team to the U.S. The report is great in showing a side of Iran that we rarely see in our media here. However, sadly, the report follows the general tradition of connecting all Iran related news to the American hostages. We even listen to President Bush declaring Iran to be a member of the axis of evil before we see a few minutes of the game. The formula prevents one from seeing the humanity or normality of Iran because we are first told about all the possible differences, disagreements, and political conflicts. Still, I hope you enjoy the basketball part: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/25796284#25796284.

Current Issues

* Speaking of political conflict, despite the apparent calm, the predictions concerning the Iran/US relations are not hopeful. What you hear in the mainstream media is that Iran is about to turn down the EU package of incentives and there should be more UN sanctions. However, the view from the other side is different. Take a look at this article discussing the views of Francis Boyle, the influential intentional lawyer, to get a different perspective on the situation: http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/07/29/10672/.

* There is an interesting clip, that my friend Bahar Bastani sent this week. It highlights a part of the famous interview that Mr. Mike Wallace conducted with President Ahmadinejad which has not been included in the official broadcast of the interview. Since Mr. Ahmadinejad ‘s words are often used as justification for sanctions or possible attacks on Iran, it is important to know exactly what he has said regardless of our personal interpretations of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onNzrNEFs1E (or view it below!).

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* And there is yet more grim news from Mr. Seymour Hersh. This is his latest reference to a strong tendency among certain members of the current U.S. administration to create a clash that would lead to a war with Iran. Matt Miller has kindly shared this piece with me. Thanks Matt! http://www.truthout.org/article/hersh-cheney-plan-creating-false-flag-attack
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A painting of two young Iranian women reading on the roof of a city building. Please see the link to the left for much more of his art work.

A painting by Iman Maleki of two young Iranian women reading on the roof of a city building. Please see the link to the left for much more of his art work.

The Amazing Paintings of Iman Maleki

* If you are familiar with Persian culture, or have been following these windows regularly, you know that painting is among the most popular art forms in Iran. I have usually been sending you paintings of Iranian women, in part because it counters the myth that they are subjugated, inactive, or unable to express their creative talents. In this window, however, I want to introduce the works of young man, an amazing master painter whose works have been getting him international fame in the recent years, Iman Maleki (1976-). Maleki has experimented with a variety of styles but he is mostly a realist whose works have a strong cultural flavor. Click here to see a slide show of some of his tremendous work: Iman Maleki Paintings. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this window.

Until the next one,
I Wish you all the Best,
Fatemeh
===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Honorary Co-Chair, Iranians For Peace
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

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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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A fascinating painting by Iranian painter Niloufar Ghaderinejad. Please see the end of this 'Window' for more of her paintings.

A fascinating painting by Iranian painter Niloufar Ghaderinejad. Please see the end of this 'Window' for more of her paintings.

Dear All,

Greetings after a relatively long break. I hope you are very well. I have been wrestling with computer problems in preparing this window. A number of housekeeping issues before opening window number 41.

First, if you cite these windows, please remember that they are my personal work. Their goal is to supply the community that nurtures me with as much information that I can provide about intellectual, artistic, social, and political life in Iran. I hope these lead us to understanding and away from another war.

Second, a warm welcome to a very distinguished scholar of Persian language, literature, and culture who is joining our list from Italy. It is my pleasure to tell you about Professor Riccardo Zipoli’s  art of photography. I had always known Professor Zipoli for his literary work, now I know he is an equally accomplished photographer. With his exquisite photography, he shares images of beautiful scenery and of ordinary Iranians. Do please visit:  www.riccardozipoli.com.

Also, it is my pleasure to welcome a group of awesome women from our own community in St. Louis who are interested in learning more about Iran through these windows. A warm welcome to Barbara Eagleton, Jean Carnahan, Robin Carnahan (and about 40 more I cannot list here fully). I hope you find these windows informative and fun to read.

Rumi on NPR

Rumi (Mowlavi)

Rumi (Mowlavi), click to listen to Dr. Keshavarz discuss Rumi on NPR's program "On Point" with Tom Ashbrook.

On October 5, I was guest of NPR’ s Tom Ashbrook on the show “On Point.” My good friend Professor James Morris (Boston College), and the famous translator of Rumi Coleman Barks were also on the show. We had a great conversation on Rumi’s mysticism, personality, and poetic art. Here is the link if you like to listen:
http://www.onpointradio.org/shows/2007/10/20071005_b_main.asp

The Song of the Reed

Still more on Rumi! Our celebration of his 800th birthday last Saturday in Maryland with Afghan, Tajik, Iranian, and American friends was absolutely delightful. A master Iranian flute player and a young American vocalist performed verses from Rumi’s Opus Magnum the Masnavi. This was all thanks to the vision and the hard work of Prof. Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak and the Roshan Cultural Heritage Center for Persian Studies he has founded at Maryland University. Unfortunately, I don’t have a recording of that performance to share with you. But do I have another treat for you. Professor Jawid Mojaddedi of Rutgers University, who has been translating the Masnavi of Rumi into English verse, has just shared with us a pod cast of his own reading of the introduction and the first 18 verses of the book known as “The Song of the Reed.” Enjoy! and share with Rumi lovers: http://podiobooks.com/title/masnavi-one/.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s Visit to Columbia University

In the last window I promised to tell you about Mr. Ahmadinejad’s visit to Columbia. Since you have read a lot about this end of the trip, let me tell you a bit about the reactions in Iran.

The initial reactions to Mr. Ahmadinejad’s visit, and the insulting remarks by the President of Columbia University, was a statement of support issued by the Iranian university presidents in which Dr. Bollinger’s remarks were condemned. Ironically, this rare expression of support for Mr. Ahmadinejad by the Iranian university community is practically a gift from Dr. Bollinger. [Please click on the video below to see Dr. Bollinger’s insulting introduction. His remarks begin about 4:30 into the video].

In response to Dr. Bollinger’s suggestion that American academics would not be permitted to speak freely in Iran, five Iranian Universities have issued invitations to him and the Columbia faculty for unrestrained visits to the country and exchanges with Iranian students and faculty. If the initial responses in the U.S. are any
indication, the invitations will not be taken seriously. Iranian bloggers engaged in extensive and interesting debates about the pros and cons of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s visit to Columbia University. While most debaters felt frustrated by the remarks of the Columbia President, the debates did not lend full support to the Iranian President either.

Ahmadinejad heckled by students at Tehran University.

Student protesters heckled Ahmadinejad at Tehran University. The banner reads "Why speak at Columbia? We have questions for you here!"

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s Visit to Tehran University

The sympathy expressed for Mr. Ahmadinejad’s mistreatment at Columbia does not seem to have lasted very long. His visit to Tehran University yesterday met with protests from more than a 100 students who criticized him for his lack of openness to criticism from the Iranian academic community. While the Iranian president spoke to a selected group of students inside the hall,  riot police prevented the demonstrators from entering. Later, his car had to avoid the crowd and leave through the back door.  The students’ banners read “Free the jailed students.” I have attached the picture of one banner that reads “Why Speak in Columbia. We have questions for you here!” Here is an NY Times piece sent to me by Matt Miller on the student response to Mr. Ahmadinejad’s visit to Tehran University: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/world/middleeast/09iran.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

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Iraq Will Have to Wait

The anxiety concerning the possibility of a military attack on Iran
continues inside and outside Iran:

The Iraqi President Jalal Talebani objected to the arrest by the American forces of an Iranian in Kurdistan saying “I express to you our outrage for these American forces arresting this Iranian civil official visitor without informing or cooperating with the government of the Kurdistan region, which means insult and disregard for its rights.” He called for “his release immediately in the interest of the Iraq Kurdistan region and the Iranian-Iraqi relations.” This is not the first instance of an Iraqi official expressing support for Iranians. You will find the full article at:
http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/09/22/talabani.letter/index.html

In a disturbing piece, in Truthdig, Scott Ritter discusses the fact that our full attention to Iraq may distract us from the fact that a more serious situation is brewing with Iran. He writes: ” Here’s the danger: While the antiwar movement focuses its limited resources on trying to leverage real congressional opposition to the war in Iraq, which simply will not happen before the 2008 election, the Bush administration and its Democratic opponents will outflank the antiwar movement on the issue of Iran, pushing forward an aggressive agenda in the face of light or nonexistent opposition.”

Of the two problems (Iraq and the potential case of Iran), Ritter suggests, Iran is by far the more important.  “The war in Iraq isn’t going to expand tenfold overnight.  By simply doing nothing, the Democrats can rest assured that Bush’s bad policy will simply keep failing.  War with Iran, on the other hand, can still be prevented. We are talking about the potential for conflict at this time, not the reality of war.  But time is not on the side of peace.” Thanks to Paul Appell for this article which you can read the rest at:
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20070927_ritter_stop_iran_war/

Seymour Hersh’s recent article in the New Yorker is not reassuring either: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/10/08/071008fa_fact_hersh (thanks to Amir Amini for sharing this article).

Reading “Guernica” in Tehran

Jahanshir Golchin has shared this interesting article by an American woman married to an Iranian and writing from Tehran: Rosa Schmidt Azadi. What adds to the complexity of Rosa’s perspective is that this long time activist anthropologist who has traveled between Tehran and New York for many years, witnessed the falling of the twin towers: http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_rosa_sch_070924_reading__22guernica_22_i.htm.

Iranian Women Golfers Earn Second place

Iranian woman golfer.

An Iranian women's golf team placed second at the Ninth International Women's Golf Tournament in Cyprus.

Iranian women golfers acquired the second place in the ninth international women’s golf competition in Cyprus: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article654.

Iranian painter Niloufar Ghaderinejad (please click on the link on the right for more of her paintings).

Iranian painter Niloufar Ghaderinejad.

Visual Delight

To close window 41, I would like to share with you the painting of Niloufar Ghaderinejad, a painter with a style of her own. Ms. Ghaderinejad, who has had 35 national exhibits in Tehran and other Iranian cities was selected this week by a prominent gallery as artist of the season. To see a slide show of her most recent exhibit, click here: Niloufar Ghaderinejad Paintings.

Until the next window, I wish you a very pleasant week.

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Best,
Fatemeh

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===================================
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 screen shot from the most popular Iranian soap opera, which,  Holocaust Zero Degree Turn.

A screen shot from the most popular Iranian soap opera, entitled "Zero Degree Turn," which centers on a love story between an Iranian-Palestinian Muslim man and a French Jewish woman. Please see below for more on this show.

Dear All,

I hope you are all well. Here in St. Louis we are enjoying the slight cooling down of September while Washington University is now in full motion with the fall semester. New students, some new colleagues, lots of activity…it is all wonderful. I am off for a short trip to London to convene a conference/celebration of the 800th birthday of the great medieval poet and mystic Jalal al-Din Rumi. You can read about the conference at http://www.iranheritage.org/rumiconference/programme.htm. The conference will bring together quite a few world scholars of Rumi.

Let us open window number 39 on Iran before I leave for London.

The Iranian TV Hit about the Holocaust

The Wall Street Journal (September 7) has a piece about a TV series it
describes as Iran’s Unlikely TV Hit and adds “the most surprising
thing about the wildly popular show is that it is a heart-wrenching
tale of European Jews during World War II.”  The truth is what is
surprising is not the Iranian series but the Wall Street coverage of
it. The presentation of Iranian society as being in denial of the
Holocaust is so bad that I was going to search bookstores on my next
trip to Iran to see what I can find on the subject. Last week, a
friend returning from Iran brought me four randomly picked magazines.
Two of them had clear (in one case extensive) articles in condemnation
of the Holocaust. Now, let’s get back to the TV series:
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The hour-long drama, “Zero Degree Turn,” centers on a love story
between an Iranian-Palestinian Muslim man and a French Jewish woman.
Over the course of the 22 episodes, the hero saves his love from Nazi
detention camps, and Iranian diplomats in France forge passports for
the woman and her family to sneak on to airplanes carrying Iranian
Jews to their homeland.

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Shot on location in Paris and Budapest, the show stars Iranian
heartthrob Shahab Husseini and is so popular that its theme song — an
ode to getting lost in love — is a hit, too.

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Despite its positive subject, theWSJ article about Iranian TV show, is
still plagued with a negative language. It calls the series “unlikely”
and “most surprising” and describes other Iranian TV series as a “fare
of scarf-clad women and gray-suited men.” As a person who tries to
follow Iranian popular media, I can tell you that these statements are
exaggerations at best. Nevertheless, in these days of demonizing Iran,
the Wall Street Journal must be commended for allowing a positive and
heart-warming piece of information to come to light about present day
Iran: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118912609718220156.html?mod=loomia&loomia_si=1 (also, click on the video below to see the first episode!).
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Jewish Wedding in Tehran

All right, I dedicate this window to the Jews of Iran with this short and beautiful slide show of the wedding of Sanaz and Payman, two young Iranian Jews who got married three weeks ago in a beautiful synagogue in Tehran. Please click here: Jewish Wedding in Tehran.

Jewish wedding in Tehran (click the link on the right for more pictures from their wedding).

Jewish wedding in a Tehran synagogue (click the link above for more pictures from Sanaz and Payman's wedding).

Iran Depicted as a Sewer

* On September 4, the Columbus Dispatch carried a cartoon that depicted the entire map of Iran as a sewer with cockroaches running out of it and infesting  neighboring countries (see the cartoon I only reluctantly insert below): http://www.payvand.com/news/07/sep/Racist-Iran-cartoon-Columbus-Dispatch.jpg.  I wrote to the editor, asked if he realized the implications of turning 70 million people into cockroaches, and indicated that I was amazed – indeed speechless – that this kind of Nazi style dehumanization propaganda could be carried out by a respectable paper. The editor wrote back – referred to Mr. Ahmadinejads anti-Semitism – and suggested that the intention was only to caricature the extremists! Since he sounded very nice, I mailed him the beautiful wedding pictures of the newly wed Jewish couple Sanaz and Payman in case the paper would like to show Americans a dimension of Iran that most Americans do not see. I have not heard back yet.

Racist and dehumanizing Columbus dispatch cartoon depicting Irans as cockroaches.

Racist and dehumanizing Columbus dispatch cartoon depicting Iranians as cockroaches.

* National Iranian American Council (NIAC) protested the Columbus
Dispatch editorial page cartoon. Board member Dokhi Fassihian wrote to
the Columbus Dispatch editor: http://www.niacouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=880&Itemid=2

* The protest did not come only from the Iranian Americans. Many other
Americans have been horrified by the dehumanizing message of the
cartoon. Teach Peace did a special information sheet on it which you
can easily forward to others to prevent this kind of preparing the
public for a new war. (Thank you David Dionisi for sharing this):
http://www.teachpeace.com/WarPropaganda.pdf

US Sees Potential Merit To Iran Cooperation Plan

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/iran_nuclear_usa_dc;_ylt=AnkDEkaB3_.W2O0BsNtPT1FSw60A
|

Visual Delight

Mahtab Abdullahi (or, Mahtab Abdollahi).

Mahtab Abdullahi (or, Mahtab Abdollahi).

Now, to replace dry political discussion with a bit of fun and introduce a healing note, I would like to invite you to meet a very young Iranian painter: Mahtab Abdullahi who seems to enjoy playing with orange and blue in particular. Please click here: Mahtab Abdullahi 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 30

A peek at the stunning natural beauty of Iran (please see below for much more!).

A peek at the stunning natural beauty of Iran (please see below for much more!).

Dear All,

I hope you are enjoying the beginning of the summer. St. Louis summers are beautifully green. They can be toasty and wet too. We are enjoying a bit of both at the moment. The news from Iran has both good and disturbing parts. Among the disturbing parts are further American action to create unrest in Iran, as is the Iranian government’s move to tighten its enforcement of the ladies dress code in public and of course the continued anxiety over the arrest of Dr. Esfandiari. Good things include news of continued strong resolve among Iranian women to enhance their presence on the social and political scene by forming new coalitions as well as the usual great artistic and intellectual activity in the country.

One of my goals in these windows is to dispel the myth that reduces Iran to a culture of “villains vs. victims.” I would like you to see that regardless of the internal and global issues that Iran is dealing with, Iranians continue to be a lively, creative, humorous, and art loving people like any other in the world. Here it is in the words of one of the major contemporary Iranian painters Iran Darrudi
http://www.payvand.com/news/07/may/1304.html. Or, read about the three-minute documentary that the renowned Iranian director and screen-writer Abbas Kiarostami made on the occasion of Cannes Film festival’s 60th year. Kiarostami included in his three-minute documentary, 24 top Iranian actresses whom he has worked with over the years: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/may/1226.html.

Visual Delight

Nothing connects cultures like a visit. Let’s take a look at some
recent photos of Iran’s natural beauty (thanks to my friend Bahar
Bastani who sent the images). I have kept the slide show short so your
home computers don’t have large files to deal with. Click here: Iran Natural Beauty.

The colorful countryside of Iran.

The colorful countryside of Iran.

Recent Visit to Iran

While disturbing news about visits to Iran get a lot of attention, the
happy and successful ones find it hard to get any. My friend Judith
Ernst who visited Iran recently, had promised to share her experience
with us. Judith wrote a beautiful piece which provides a rare window
on Iran as few Americans make such a visits these days. Her
thoughtfully written piece about the trip received little attention
from the national papers. However, fortunately, it was greeted
enthusiastically by on-line news source Commondreams (thank goodness
for the alternative media). Judy was in Iran with her husband, Carl
Ernst
, a professor of Islamic Studies at the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill, who was invited to a conference on Rumi and
while there received an award for his most recent book, Following
Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World
.  I recommend the book highly for personal reading and/or classroom use.  Now, for Judy’s take on the trip to Iran click on:
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/05/18/1348/

Current Issues
* And now to the not-so-exciting current news:

According to ABC News, the CIA has received secret presidential
approval to mount a covert “black” operation to destabilize the
Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence
community say. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity
because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has
signed a “nonlethal presidential finding” that puts into motion a CIA
plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda,
disinformation and manipulation of Iran’s currency and international
financial transactions.
http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/05/bush_authorizes.html

* Though the majority of Americans many not readily connect the two, the
recent harshness on the part of the Iranian government toward Iranians
themselves as well as Iranian American visitors has much to do with
these “regime change” plans cooked here in the U.S. In a letter
recently written by Emaddedin Baghi of Defending Prisoners’
Rights Society in Tehran, Iran and circulated through the
International Society for Iranian Studies here in the US, Mr. Baghi writes:

In recent years, the government of the United States has announced
that it has allocated a yearly budget for the support of civil
society, democracy, and human rights in Iran. This so-called
“democracy fund” is approved by the United States Congress and
extensive media coverage of this financial endeavor has been
encouraged.

Given the existence of long-standing hostilities between the
governments of Iran and the United States, the government of Iran has
shown extreme sensitivity to the idea of individuals or groups
receiving funds to engage in activities that, in the public words of
at least some American officials, is intended for an eventual “regime
change” in Iran. I am sure the United States government would show
similar sensitivity if it was revealed that there were individuals or
organizations in the United States that were receiving funds from
hostile groups or countries intent on creating instability in that
country.”

Mr. Baghi suggests in his letter that “Undoubtedly, not all these
pressures and arrests are reflective of recently developed government
concerns and suspicions. Forces that are against liberty also use the
U.S. budget allocation as a pretext or excuse to legitimize their
opposition to civil liberties and to discredit their critics.”
Nevertheless, he goes on to say: “It is not right for independent
individuals and institutions inside Iran to pay the price for
allocated funds that the United States government spends on
broadcasting from the United States into Iran or for the activities of
exiled Iranian groups that cooperate with various American
organizations.”
Mr. Baghi’s moving letter ends with “This is why I hereby make a plea
to you and your respected organizations to insist that the United
States government change its ways or, in case of its insistence on
allocating a yearly budget, make public and transparent the exact
amount and recipients (individuals and groups) of these funds.”

* On the brighter side, an Iranian woman member of the parliament,
Fatemeh Rakeii has announced a plan to form a coalition of women
political activists to help women gain all their rights in the
political and management arenas. Rakeii described the main goal of the
coalition as “abolition” of gender discrimination. At the same time, a
coalition of reformist women is also about to form in order to
increase women’s seats in the 2008 parliamentary elections. To read
more on these, please visit:
http://www.mehrnews.com/en/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=490115

* In these windows, I am always talking about one-sidedness of the media
on Iran/Islam related issues. At the moment, Iran gets the worst
possible press. But the treatment is extended to all Muslims, as my
student Matt Miller noted recently in an e-mail (thanks Matt!). Matt
writes: “There was a poll by Pew that came out today that surveyed the
U.S. Muslim population. Here is the headline that appeared in U.S.
media outlets (via the Associated Press) about the poll: “Some young
Muslims approve suicide hits.”  While on the BBC this was the headline
about the same poll: “Muslims ‘well-integrated’ in the U.S..”  The
stark contrast in the headlines is incredible. The articles both go on
to talk about the same poll by Pew, yet the AP (U.S.) article focuses
almost exclusively on Muslims and terrorism (citing the 13% of young
U.S. Muslims who approve of suicide attacks to defend religion in
“rare cases”),while the BBC article talks about how U.S. Muslims are
well-integrated into U.S. life, reject terrorism in overwhelming
numbers, and like the U.S. although they don’t often feel welcomed in
the U.S.” Matt finds “incredible” how two stories about the same poll
portray the U.S. Muslim population in such vastly different lights. He
provides the link:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18797530/. Now compare
with:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6680939.stm

St. Louis Persian Music Event!

Monika Jalili and her Persian music group Noorsaaz.

Monika Jalili and her Persian music group Noorsaaz.

We just have to end on a happier note. What better than the news that my friend Behfar Dianati has sent. Behfar, with help from Iranian American Cultural Society of the Midwest, has organized a concert of Persian music by American musicians called Songs of Love from Iran by the artist Monika Jalili and her group Noorsaaz. The group will perform at the Missouri Historical Society, on Saturday, June 9, at 7:00. If you live in or near St. Louis, come to get a taste of Persian music performed by American artists. And, if you like more information, call (314- 746-4599).

Until the next window, I wish you 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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