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Posts Tagged ‘Trita Parsi’

Greetings every one! I am back in time to celebrate the Persian sizdahbedar سیزده بدر with you. For those of you who are new to Persian cultural practices, sizdahbedar which literally means “the thirteen out,” refers to the the 13th day of farvardin  فرودین , the first month on the Iranian calendar. The expression could be interpreted as ” let us throw away any bad omen associated with the 13th day of the month” or simply “let us get out and celebrate on the 13th day!” Or, perhaps a bit of both.  On this day, finally, the new year celebrations end with a huge picnic. Family and friends get together and picnic in gardens, parks, and any green and open space they find. One of the goals is returning the wheat sabzeh grown on a plate for the haft-seen back to nature:

The Wheat grown before Nowruz and placed on the Haft-seen will be taken out of the house during the sizdahbedar

But of course, the main part of the day is the celebration and festivity with family and friends:

sizdahbedar is the day to get out of town and enjoy the nature

One popular practice during the sizdahbehar picnic is tying two blades of grass into a knot and making a wish! It isn’t that people think that knot changes their lives; rather it is a fun and symbolic way to tie their wishes and aspirations with that of the freshly growing grass, the messenger of the spring. Like the ritual of jumping over fire on the last Wednesday of the year, chaharshanbe suri چهارشنبه سوری , which is part of the Nowruz and therefore disliked by the current Iranian government as a pre-Islamic practice, sizdahbehar is frowned upon too. Here is how one cartoonist used the symbol to express  his / her opposition to the policing of the regime on this matter:

This is how a cartoonist, opposing the policing of the regime regarding Nowruz celebration in Iran, tied the knots on his / her sabzeh!

Iran in Bloom!

Countries that earn the title of “bad guys” are usually presented in the popular media as barren, poor, not-well-cared-for, fighting a harsh environment, and constantly dealing with tragedy. Beautiful panoramas or images of happy smiling people from such countries are hardly available to the American general public. As a result, it is easier to imagine the residents of such countries as unreliable, irrational, and ready to spring into violence. So here, together with the awesome picture (below) from the arrival of spring in the city of Larijan in the province of Gilan in Northern Iran, I gift you a photo-essay that relates the story of Iran in bloom . For the rest of the pictures, you can visit here.

Visit the link I have provided to Iranian.com above to see images such as this showing Iran in bloom this spring!

Spread Ronnie’s  Message of Peace

In my last post, I told you about about Ronnie Edri and his wife Michal Tamir, the Israeli designer couple who designed a logo with a message of peace and love to Iranians. Hundreds of thousands of people have already watched Ronnie’s message on the internet and many Iranians have responded to it already. Here is Ronnie himself on the subject. Do please help get his courageous message of peace and sanity out to more viewers:

And here is one out of numerous responses from Iranians (many of whom as you will see have covered a part of their face to remain anonymous to the Iranian authorities).

The Politicians Don’t Stop!

And yet the politicians on all sides continue with their inflammatory messages and the media keeps the war-talk going.  A piece in The New York Times focuses on the concern of the American intelligence community that hasty military action could take place based on unreliable information. Well, in my opinion, they should be concerned! It is hard to believe that some opinion pieces make it sound as if this caution is misplaced, that it is due to timidity, or a sense of guilt about Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of lives would have been saved if we  had not mistaken bread factories for nuclear sites. See the article here:

One of the buildings the American forces were told was a nuclear site in Iraq turned out to be a bread factory. See the article I site above from N.Y. Times.

If we are to avoid another war and hitting bread factories instead of nuclear sites, or if we are to prevent Iranian children from following the fate of Iraqi children, half a million of whom died as a result of food and medication shortages caused by sanctions during the nineties, diplomacy should be given a serious chance. Please don’t forget that massive sanctions are weapons of mass destruction. I already know of one such case: a first cousin of mine who is desperately searching for a medical supply for a surgery she has to have done every few years. I don’t know how life threatening the situation is at this point, but I know she is in great discomfort. For further thoughts and discussion on this and related topics, I have an excellent essay for you by Trita Parsi, author of A Single Role of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran. The essay is called “Five tips for President Obama on nuclear negotiations with Iran.” Trita’s suggestions include broadening the discussion beyond the nuclear issues, and not allowing American domestic politics to direct the exchanges.  You can read the full piece here.

Time for Music…

Time to turn from politics, war, and sanctions, to a happier topic. I usually close these windows with visual delights such as painting or calligraphy from Iran. Let us turn to music this time. Just before Nowruz, an Iranian master setar player and composer Jalal Zolfonun died at the age seventy-five. I had heard him in concert about ten years ago. He was quite amazing. Here is a short clip of master Zolfonun playing

Setar is one of the oldest string instruments used in Persian classical music. Fortunately, young Iranians take a lot of interest in learning how to play it. Bear in mind that while Persian traditional music follows some tight rules, the player has plenty of room to display his or her originality by bending those rules in improvisation. Below, I have taken a delightful moment from a concert in Iran where a young Iranian woman musician named Sepideh Meshki shares the stage with her master Mohammad Reza Lotfi and many other Iranian women musicians. I have enjoyed this piece tremendously. I hope you do too:

Have a great week,

Fatemeh

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Finally, an Oscar for the Thriving Iranian Cinema

I am sure many of you watched the Academy Award Ceremony as Asghar Farhadi won the Oscar for her superb film A Separation as the best foreign film. Let us take a look at Farhadi and the crew on the red carpet:

Prior to the Oscars, he had won the German and French major festivals as well as the Golden Globe. If you have not seen the movie, I hope you do as it will show you a side of the Iranian society which you are not likely to have seen. Here is the trailer

It is unfortunate that our popular media referred to the Oscar as a diplomatic victory for the Iranian regime. See the article on the Washington Post blog here. You can consider the movie a victory for the Iranian regime only if you had assumed that in the Islamic republic of Iran there were no real people living in normal human conditions possessing real voices. This film certainly changes that perception. Beyond that,however, there is nothing in the movie that can be interpreted as a political move in favor of any regime. Indeed, the Iranian officials have complained about the focus of the movie being on a family conflict and divorce. Furthermore, Farhadi’s acceptance speech at the Oscars in which he said “I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, the people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment” could be interpreted as a criticism of possible aggression against Iran. But at the same time, it could be viewed as a criticism of the Iranian officials verbal aggression against other cultures. In this video, taken at a press conference in Germany, you’ll here Farhadi making candid comments about the subject of class conflict and divorce in Iran:

And here is Leila Hatami the leading woman interviewed by the CNN:

I just read that in Israel people lined up outside theaters to see A Separation. This was wonderful news for me in that the more nations see images of each other in real life contexts, the less they would be afraid of each other. At the same time, this is a tribute to the Israeli society not to sensor the film. If the situation was reversed and the Israeli film had received the Oscar, would the current Iranian regime allow its public screening in Iran? My guess would be “no.” I am addressing this issue in an article I am writing for a Persian website.

Mousavi: I have Not Changed my Position

In a rare phone contact with his daughters, Mir Hossein Mousavi started the conversation with “My daughters, I would like you to know that nothing has changed. I am fully committed to my previous positions.” Obviously, he feared that the conversation would be interrupted by the security forces who were listening. He also warned his daughters that the occasional phone contact they’ve had may be discontinued. Read more about the conversation here.

Mir Hossein Mousavi: I am fully committed to my Positions!

The Parliamentary Elections Today

While the Iranian official media was speaking of the participation of 65% percent of the electorate in today’s Parliamentary Elections boycotted by a vast number of opposition groups, the Minister of Interior reported the participation to be 34% until 7:00 pm. The voting time was extended four times which indicates the participation has not been to the satisfaction of the officials. The state run media, played a range of tricks to get the public to the ballot boxes including the false news of voting by popular figures such as the reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami. While the news of his voting remains unconfirmed, the image published of him speaking to the reporters turned out to be an image taken from an earlier event! Take a look:

News and Image of President Khatami supposedly Voting today

In less than ten minutes, the image was found on an a website dated three months earlier and reporting on Mr. Khatami’s participation in a memorial service. That image (below) is now being circulated:

Khatami photographed in a memorial service 3 months earlier

Six Questions Reporters should ask of anyone Advocating Military Action against Iran!

There is an interesting recent article by Reza Marashi and Trita Parsi with the above title. I am so relieved that someone is asking substantive questions. Usually the question is “Is the Iranian government telling the truth about its nuclear objectives.”  And the implied answer is always “No!” As if , the rest of the world politicians are going about revealing the truth about their objectives particularly with regard to security issues. Marashi is Director of Research at the National Iranian American Council and a former Iran Desk Officer at the U.S. Department of State. Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council, is the author of the new book  Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy With Iran (Yale University Press, 2012), here.

Israel Displeased with Public criticism by U.S. officials of a Possible Israeli Attack on Iran

A recent piece in Haaretz (February 24) by Barak Ravid, reveals open tension between American and Israeli politicians over comments by American officials that a military move against Iran is a mistake, here.

US Agencies See no Move by Iran to Build a Bomb

This is one of those reports that is bound to make some happy and others unhappy. According to The New York Times piece by James Risen and Mark Mazzetti, posted here, the American intelligence community believes there is no evidence that Iran is moving toward building a bomb.

Fields of Dreams

I was looking for some soothing images from Iran. Something really far way from politics and conflict. And I run into a set of amazing pictures form Iran by Mohammad Emdadi posted on Iranian.com called “Fields of Dreams.” Here are two images from this collections:

The lush nature of Northern Iran

And I absolutely loved this one!

A woman Shepherd from Southern Iran?

Do look at Emdadi’s full collection here.  And have a great weekend!

Best,

Fatemeh

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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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Greetings,

I have been away from the blog for a while for family and work reasons. With Iran back in the headlines, it’s time for more updates. But first some good local news.

Sharnush Parsipur at Washington University

This week, we hosted one of the most prominent Iranian Writers of the 20th and the 21st century on the campus of Washington University. Parsipur, the author of Women Without Men and Touba and the Meaning of the Night, among many other great titles, was here to speak with students in Advanced Persian who had read Women without Men. In addition to writing her own wonderful work, Parsipur has been a powerful advocate for creativity, freedom, and human rights in Iran, ideals for which she has endured many prison sentences. Now living in the United States, Parsipur continues to write novel after novel. The two novels I mentioned here both exist in English translation and, hopefully, others will follow. Read more about her here.

The students of Persian at Washington University admired Parsipur's frank, energetic and engaging style

Alleged Iranian Murder Plot on the American Soil

The Iranian and the American government don’t seem to be able to live without accusing each other. By now you have all been reading about this one. According to American officials: The Iranian Quds Force used an Iranian-American Used-car Dealer, and $1.5 million, to hire assassins from a Mexican drug cartel to murder the Saudi Arabian Ambassador and attack the Israeli Embassy. Much has been said about this and skepticism about the news has been a feature of most reports. English Aljazeera called it the fast and furious plot to occupy Iran A more neutral – but still critical – article by Reza Marashi and Trita Parsi appeared on Huffington Post soon after the news broke out. The piece called The “come to Jesus” moment in US Iran relations criticized the scenario for its sloppiness quoting Robert Baer, a former CIA case officer in the Middle East say the “Quds Force has never been this sloppy, using untested proxies, contracting with Mexican drug cartels, sending money through New York bank accounts, and putting its agents on U.S. soil where they risk being caught… The Quds Force is simply better than this.” See the full article here.

A central question, raised by many, is what could Iran have gained by having the Saudi Ambassador murdered. If anything, the Iranian government has been trying to build a steady relationships with its neighboring countries. It’ll be interesting to see what other details about this case may emerge. For now, I leave you with three interesting pieces, one about the personality of the alleged terrorist here, one on the Justice department conceding “no conclusive proof” here. And the third, an interesting analysis by the ex-CIA officer here.

Iran’s Reaction to the Allegations of a Murder Plot

The alleged murder plot has united the various factions – if momentarily – inside Iran. The Iranian leader described the allegations as absurd and a way to distract the American people from the protests taking place in the U.S., here. As for the Quds force, one of its top leaders boasted that if they had such intentions they could assassinate King Abd’allah himself without coming to the US soil.

Iran Blames the Outlawed MKO for the Murder Plot

The Iranian government is pointing its finger toward the outlawed Iranian dissidents Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) as the force behind the plot, here. The MKO has been working hard recently to get its name off the terrorist list in the US and has such supports as John Bolton (U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN, 2005-06) among American politicians.

The MKO participated in the Iraqi invasion of the southern parts of Iran by Saddam Husein’s Army which led to an eight year war (1980-88) between Iran and Iraq and the use of chemical weapons by Saddam forces on Iranian soldiers and civilians.

Weather in this case the MKO is involved is not yet clear. However, the organization pursues a policy of preventing normalization of relations between US and Iran and prefers military confrontation between the two countries. For this reason, the MKO has been condemning any peace activism with Iran, considering such activists “lobbyists for Iran.” Recently, The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) which sends peace delegations to Iran and many other countries around the world regardless of their government’s relationship with the U.S., posted an article in Persian on its main website to refute the MKO accusation that its members are lobbyists for the Iranian government, here.

The Real Problem with Alleged Terror Plots

The real problem with these inflated and frequently unprovable allegations is that they form the main headlines about Iran and mask the real problems in the country: the crimes which are being committed against Iranian citizens in Iranian jails.

Just over a month ago, President Ahmadinejad made his annual UN speech and the usual round of interviews in which he claimed again and again no one is harmed in Iran for criticizing him. Guess what? This is not true:

This is Peyman Aref helped by his wife and friends after being released from a year in jail. His accusation: insulting President Ahmadinejad

The “crime” that the Tehran University student Peyman Aref had committed was writing an open letter to President Ahmadinejad complaining of student and faculty purges which are designed to eliminate the presence of the opposition in Iranian universities. The government claims that the tone of the letter did not show enough respect to the President.

The reason why Payman needed to be helped to the car by his wife and friends is that in addition to serving a year in jail, he received 74 lashes upon his release. This what his back looked like after the punishment:

Payman's back after 74 lashes for writing a critical open letter to President Ahmadinejad

It would help if American reporters have such pictures handy when interviewing the Iranian President.

Opposition to Gender Segregation Continues

Despite the harshness of the punishments awaiting any form of opposition, Iranian university students continue to voice their objection to the deteriorating social conditions, lack of freedom, in the country. One of the most controversial issues is the current governments attempt to start a process of gender segregation in the universities. The clip below shows a demonstration in Zanjaan University protesting a possible segregation:

Other students in various universities across the country are protesting the plans for gender segregation.

Time for Some Visual Healing

I usually close this window with images of paintings by Iranian women painters. This time, I am going to leave you with beautifully expressive images of Iranian women painted by an Iranian mail artist Afshin Nikravesh. Nikravesh was born in 1968 in Tehran and his main training is in Hydraulic structures!

A member of Society of Iranian Painters, Nikravesh is faculty at the School of Engineering in Tehran University

Girl reading, exhibited in June, 2011

In fact the main theme of June Exhibit of the paintings by Nikravesh were women. Here is one in a white scarf:

Last but not least, this beautiful silhouette of a young woman:

Before closing this window, a brief personal news. You read these windows in many different parts of the world and are always kind to ask to be informed if I am speaking anywhere near where you live. Well, I’ll be speaking at Pomona College next week, and at NYU in the Iranian Studies Initiative soon after than. You can visit the site here.

Have a great weekend!

Fatemeh

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Windows on Iran 51

A beautiful shot of a frozen waterfall in the Khorasan province of Northeastern Iran.

A beautiful shot of a frozen waterfall in the Khorasan province of Northeastern Iran (see the link below for more pictures from this striking natural wonder).

Dear All,

I hope you are having a great summer. The St. Louis weather has been exceptionally cooperating — so far. For those of you who are experiencing a hot summer, I will start this window with a cooling visual delight from Iran:

Frozen Waterfall

* Last winter, in the province of Khorasan in North East of Iran, a huge waterfall froze. Behnaz Seyedi, a female Iranian photographer, took advantage of the natual art display and took the following photographs. Please click here: Frozen Waterfall of Khorasan. Enjoy!

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Iranian Women Inventors Shining in International Competition!

* Bagging 12 gold, five silver and six bronze medals, Iranian women inventors gained the first place among 25 countries participating at the international event, held in the South Korean capital of Seoul from May 8 to 10, 2008. Among their inventions: surgical equipments and electricity generators. In this prestigious international event, Iranian female inventors competed with participants from 25 countries including France, Switzerland, Japan, Romania, and Australia and got the first place. For the full article please visit: http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=168969.

Iranian Maryam Eslami won the International Federation of Inventors Associations (IFIA) Award for the surgical tool she invented that is used to repair the olecranon.

Iranian Maryam Eslami won the International Federation of Inventors' Associations (IFIA) Award for the surgical tool she invented that is used to repair the olecranon.

* The above news contradicts the images often circulating on the internet depicting Iranian women in frightening conditions. Please don’t get me wrong, there are a few items on the Iranian constitution which I would like to see changed. However, much of the “information” circulating about Iranian women on the web and in the popular media is often grossly inaccurate because it is published without proper scrutiny and verification. Basically, negative news comes across as “most probably true” and therefore not necessary to be questioned. Let me give you an example, an excruciating image showing the process of burying a woman from waist down in the ground to be stoned to death circulated on the web. When the Iranian President visited Columbia University, the image was enlarged and carried by some protesters. It has now turned out to be a scene from a movie called “The Stone.”

A 1994 Dutch indie film entitled "The Stone." Director Mahnaz Tamizi, actress Smadar Monsinos and her photo is to the right.

This infamous picture is actually a frame from the 1994 Dutch indie film entitled "The Stone," directed by Mahnaz Tamizi. The woman in the ground is an actress named Smadar Monsinos and a real photo of her is to the right.

The actress Smadar Monsinos (above) is the woman featured in the frame (on the left) from the indie Dutch movie "The Stone." This particular frame from this movie is frequently used by critics of Iran as if it were a real image.

The actress Smadar Monsinos (above) is the woman featured in the frame (on the left) from the indie Dutch movie "The Stone." This particular frame from this movie is frequently used by critics of Iran as if it were a real historical image.

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Time out with Art work by Iranian Women

* Enjoying creativity of artists has a great healing quality. Let us move on from the fictional “stoning” image to actual art work by Iranian women, their creativity with clay. Here is an exhibit of amazing pottery work by Iranian women. Click on the link below…and enjoy: http://www.jadidonline.com/images/stories/flash_multimedia/Women_sofalgari_eng_test/sofalgari_high.html.

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Current Events

* The past ten days or so have been tense and rather worrisome with fiery statements and grim predictions of a possible military assault on Iran by the United States and/or Israel. Cooler heads seem to be at work to insert a note of sanity into the discussion.

* For those who think U.S. and Israel have no choice but attack Iran, I recommend a very insightful recent article written by Shlomo Ben-Ami, vice president of the Toledo International Center for Peace and former foreign minister of Israel and Trita Parsi president of the National Iranian American Council and author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the US. The article, published yesterday in the Christian Science Monitor is titled: “The alternative to an Israeli attack on Iran.” Here is the link:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0702/p09s01-coop.html.

* Iranian top politicians sound more positive in the past couple of days as well. In an interview with the Associated Press, the Iranian Foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Iran was considering the package presented by the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana on behalf of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. He praised as “very constructive” Solano’s response to Iran’s proposals on the subject. Mottaki said he saw “significant capacities” being explored in the latest round of talks that were not present earlier. Mr. Mottaki is in New York for talks at the United Nations. He hinted there has been diplomatic progress on easing tensions with the West at a time of heightened concern. To read the full interview, visit: http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/5474.

* The truth is neither war nor sanctions solve problems. They both kill innocent individuals, and postpone processes of positive social change and evolution. It is time to realize that as a large, complex, and vibrant society, Iran has plenty to offer the region and the world. And that the country must be engaged in a serious and constructive manner.

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Women at Work in Iran

Despite what the mainstream U.S. media will often lead you to believe, women in Iran are very active in society and are well-represented in every major field of work. Above is a (female) doctor delivering a newborn in a Tehran hospital. Also included in the picture show (linked on the left) is Iranian women firefighters, computer technicians, factory workers, and artists.

Despite what the mainstream U.S. media will often lead you to believe, women in Iran are very active in society and are well-represented in every major field of work. Above is a (female) doctor delivering a newborn in a Tehran hospital. Also included in the picture show (linked on the left) is Iranian women firefighters, computer technicians, factory workers, and artists.

* Since we have been focused almost entirely on Iranian women in this issue, I would like to close this window with a slide show of very recent images of Iranian women at work in all segments of the society. Please click here: Women at Work in Iran.

Till the next window, have a wonderful summer and a great weekend!

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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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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This is one of the many very interesting photos from Hoda Alavi's new photography exhibit entitled "Painting with Light." Please click on the link to the left for many more photos from her recent exhibit.

This is only one of the many very interesting photos from Hoda Alavi's new photography exhibit, entitled "Painting with Light." Please click on the link to the left for many more photos from her recent exhibit.

Dear All!

Greetings! I am back to wish you all a wonderful 2008 — and to open another window on Iran.

I hope you have had a peaceful holiday. In the spirit of celebration, let’s open this window with festive images of light and color. The young Iranian photographer Hoda Alavi uses urban landscape as her canvas and paints with light. Let’s visit her latest photo exhibit. Click on here to view it: Hoda Alavi Photography Exhibit.

Article on Iranian Women

* While on the subject of women, I have a very interesting article for you from the Guardian (Jan. 9) courtesy of Amir Companieh. The essay encourages readers to forget about stereotypes and look instead at the reality of women’s vibrant and organized activism in Iran: http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,2237579,00.html.

Thousands of women and men gathered at Tehran University to demand equality in the Justice system. Despite what the mainstream media in the U.S. and Europe will often tell you, there is a strong womens movement in Iran. To see more photos from this protest please click on the picture. (Image courtesy of www.kosof.com).

Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani (with the bullhorn) leads thousands of women and men gathered at Tehran University to demand equality in the Justice system. Despite what the mainstream media in the U.S. and Europe will often tell you, there is currently a strong (and growing!) women's movement in Iran. To see more photos from this protest and others please click on the picture above (image courtesy of http://www.kosof.com).

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* Still on the subject of women, take a look at images of Iranian women chess players competing for the national championship. Chess is an extremely popular hobby in Iran: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article1036.

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Recommended Reading

* Over the holidays, I read an excellent book which I recommend to anyone interested in better understanding the complexities of the strategic games played by various regional and outside forces in relation to Iran and its neighboring countries. Authored by Trita Parsi and published by Yale University Press, the book is called Treacherous Alliance: the Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States.

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The Persian Gulf Incident

* Trita’s book is, in fact, a great tool for helping us understand that many a piece of shocking news about the region has to be placed in its full strategic context to be understood better. A perfect example of that is the recent news of the “aggressive maneuvers” by Iranian boats near American warships in the Persian Gulf. The incident, which many of you have been asking about, seemed totally baffling. Why would Iran provoke the massive American military machine sitting on three of its borders? According to an article sent to me by Daniel Pourkesali, “The list of those who are less than fully confident in Pentagon’s video/audio mash up of aggressive maneuvers by Iranian boats near American warships in the Strait of Hormuz now includes the Pentagon itself.” You can read the full article at this link: http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/10/degrees-of-confidence-on-us-iran-naval-incident/?hp

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* Daniel also distributed a video supplied by the Iranian Navy which suggests that the incident was a simple and routine exchange in the Gulf: http://www.politube.org/show/341 [or click on the video below to view it].

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* Today’s Washington Post, contains an article that supports Dr. Pourkesali’s view suggesting “Iranian Boats May Not Have Made Radio Threat, Pentagon Says,” *check it out: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/10/AR2008011000692.html?sub=AR&sid=ST2008011001831.

* Matt Miller, watching the world from Cairo where he is studying Arabic this semester, has sent another related piece by the historian and national security policy analyst, Gareth Porter who further supports the view that the initial report on the Iranian “aggressive” behavior has been unfounded. Thanks Matt! http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/011108J.shtml

There we are! More misinformation about Iran…and really scary misinformation at that!

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Iran Opens a Peace Museum

The new Tehran Peace Museum in Tehran City Park.

The new Tehran Peace Museum in Tehran City Park.

* Iran will open a peace museum to promote sentiments for peace in a culture that still remembers the pain of an 8-year war that started with Saddam’s aggression and led to his use of chemical weapons on Iraqi Kurds and Iranians. The museum which will soon open in Tehran City Park has the sculpture of a white dove at its entrance. While attributing imaginary violence to the culture is common, Christian Science Monitor’s exceptional attention to this museum is commendable. Not surprisingly, the tone of the article suggests that the museum is something of an aberration in a culture that “glorifies martyrdom.” It would be fantastic if the author of the article Scott Peterson would have the opportunity to take a trip to Iran. You can read the article on the Peace Museum in Iran at: http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1224/p01s03-wome.html?page=1.

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A Concert of Sufi Music in Tehran

* Iranians love live music. When master musicians perform, it is common to line up outside the concert hall from the night before the box office opens to make sure you can obtain tickets. I would like to close this window with a ten minute clip from a Sufi music performance at Vahdat Hall, a major concert hall in Tehran. The concert was sent to me by a dear friend, Nakhostin Javidani: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17wue10S0l0&feature=related [or click the video below to view it].

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Until our next window, have a great week!

Best,
Fatemeh
===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

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