Monday, July 20, 2015

Ramadan & I

I have been thinking of my grandmother lately; perhaps because of Ramadan. We woke up before dawn, to pray and to eat--as is common to do in preparation for fasting. We didn't fast always, but the dawn prayer call would wake us up and it was a pleasant spiritual experience--which I miss despite all my religiouslessness. In my life I have fasted a total of 13 days, 3 of them when I was 11--and no I didn't die, and no I wasn't forced, if anything I was discouraged by my parents. I loved getting up at dawn because that was a good time to ask her for after-prayer stories. What is it with children's love to hear the same story, again, again and again?
My grandmother had an amazing memory for details, and a great narrative style, and infinite patience and love for us. These days, one of her stories has occupied me most--perhaps because I have been reading too many vengeful rants from all sorts of people claiming all sorts of violent justice, from one another.
The story was of her only blood-brother being killed "accidentally" by a half brother who was cleaning his rifle on the eve of another brother's wedding. Her stories of my ancestors were full of romantics: Mountains, guns and horses, intrigues of power, lust for brides enamored in gold, love for grooms of legendary bravery, broken hearts and broken promises, even poison and murder. And this accidental shooting too was a suspected murder; for the brother who was killed was a beautiful one, a brave one, one of great stars to one day lead the clan--or so thought the grieving great grandmother. But the morale of the story was this: that when they brought the handcuffed 'killer' to her mother, she asked him to be released, not seeking vengeance; and leaving it for "God" to decide on the Judgement Day.
The story of "leaving justice to god, until the judgement day" is a prevalent one in my culture, one in whose root there is a deep recognition that earthy REVENGE cannot undo the wrong; that it can only make more wrong. Islam, for sure, allows retribution: An Eye for an Eye; but the version of Islam that is practiced in Iran also provisions for forgiveness. Many think it is a flaw in the judiciary system to burden the family of the victim with the verdict to carry the punishment or not. But the silver lining is that the culture flexes the laws to allow (and in fact it applaudes) the individual "choice" for forgiveness.
Many years ago, a group of criminals had kidnapped a child of a distant cousin (she was the great granddaughter of my great grandmother). The kidnappers were arrested before collecting ransom. Their punishment by the law would have been death. But the great cousin let them live: "Let leave their punishment for god's decision on the judgement day.", I recall her telling my mother.
At the end of Ramadan, it is customary for the king to hand in pardons. This year, 930 Iranian prisoners have received either a pardon or a reduction of the sentence.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Let's negotiate!

If I was a cartoonist, I would draw a Greek oracle and a Persian poet, towering over Merkel holding a stash of cash and Kerry hugging Israel as a crying baby holding a nuclear missile as a toy, and saying "ok kids, let's negotiate."

But I am not!

So I have this to say:

First, I agree with Zarif that this was an unnecessary crisis over nothing. 

Second, I don't understand who decides that a fatwa against Salman Rushdi is a 'serious' deal, but a fatwa against nuclear weapons is not!

Third, I believe the sanctions on Iran have been unjustified; and the blockade of Iranian assets has been illegal; all attempts to bring a growing regional power to its knees. And I think the deal we are getting today is a testament to the failure of those who have tried to isolate Iran; this is a deal to share the pie from which China and Russia and India have been nibbling. All the talks about nuclear 'crisis' are nonsense. 

That said, Iranians have displayed yet again that theirs is a nation of PEACE; and they stand in stark contrast to their war mongering counterparts, Saudi Arabia (who is bombing men and women in Yemen) and Israel (who was bombing men and women in Gaza last year).

It is now up to Americans to hold their congress accountable to PEACE AND REASON and to rescue their political system from a corrupt system that allows Yehuda Ben-Meir, head of the National Security and Public Opinion Project at Tel-Aviv say:  "The biggest challenge will be mustering enough Democratic votes to override any Obama veto".

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Racism is on my mind:

Illegal migrants in Europe; Confederate flag; White supremacist massacres; ISIS massacres; The friend who thinks my Hijab as a muslim woman is repulsive. My being repulsed by the oppression I assume the Hassidic girls in my neighborhood suffer. The proto-fascist new-rich "French" neighbors who have moved into the 'recently hip' areas and feel entitled to stop us "foreigners" when we drive to our home to inquire: "do you live in this neighborhood? because the alley belongs to the residents."

With globalization, with communication, we have been forced to stare into the inners of other tribes.

Often, our values clash, but we are not able or patient enough to understand, to articulate why. We oppress the visceral reaction to this cultural clash, pretend that we are blind to race and to cultural differences, and act indifferently when they do not hit us personally.

While this may be not true for people who are born to and are raised in truly multicultural societies, it is likely for those of us who come to contact with the "other" as grownups.

In some ways, most of us are closeted racists: those of us who are white and hold the current power in this world and know how to speak in politically correct terms; those of us who are brown and yellow and boast about fully regaining the power by the next two or three generations; those of us who are black and red, and see ourselves as the generous hosts-turned-victims of the the white greed also feel a need to rebel against this exploitative order of things, as the world stands today. All of us are racists, in as far as our primate ancestors are.

But the White world is particularly confused about it.

First, it doesn't seem to really comprehend the deep rooted grudges that the rest of the world holds against it. Second, it is in denial about its racism. And Third, it is so assured of its own superiority that it is unable to admit it doesn't have a clue what it should and shouldn't do about it.

This delusion is partly because the post-war generation has been cushioned in comfortable consumerism and "democracy", which it has been proudly importing by the help from financial beneficiaries of the capitalist order, in order to create a global village where even in the farthest of a polynesian volcanic Islands in Hawaii, one can feel as in Barcelona. With this simulated "inclusion", the White has begun absolving itself of the savagery it exhibited during the first and second world wars, not to mention the other carnages it left in Africa and Asia, upon which its current industrial revolution and wealth have flourished.

 The delusion is also because the children of the WWII parents are somewhat self-satisfied with their legacy of global performance to bring peace and prosperity to all! For example, the post-war 'right' still congratulates itself on behalf of Reagan, for collapsing the Wall. The post-war 'left' also congratulates itself on behalf of the civil-right movement in America and de-colonization of the European colonies.

The irony is that one generation later, self-righteousness of those who absolved their racist White cultures by trying to open the doors of their countries to "immigrants and refugees" from their ex-colonies is manifesting in the behavior of those who think they have already paid their dues to those they had robbed in the past centuries. "Get over it", they say, for they got over the Nazi atrocities, for example.

The newer generations, who have been raised in the post-modern culture of 'all goes' and 'forgive and forget all' and 'relax and be happy' because after the God, "the author is dead" too, no longer feel responsible for the sins of their fathers. They are those who are pushing to close those doors to others, and practice highly discriminatory and exclusionary cultures. The Israeli children of the victims of Holocaust kill, segregate and steal other's land with impunity. The European racism has been handed justification, thanks to the Fatwas on Salman Rushdi's life, the killing of the Dutch filmmakers, and the massacre of the French cartoonists--which ironically have been literary manifestations of the White's visceral hatred for the culture of the other who has been fueling its economies. This self-righteousness begets the hatred of those who did suffer, and are again suffering this new versions of supremacist manifestations--despite the fact of growing up within this self-congratulating and yet othering cultures. Paris riots & ISIS recruitments are cases in point.

 The post-war White in America is somewhat different. After all America is a melting pot with open arms for anyone who wishes its dreams.

Inclusive, and culturally open to all, unless socialism, America is still the proud exporter of war and democracy, and still unapologetic. Thanks to "death to USA" chants from the Islamic Revolution hostage-takers, Vietnam and Korea are long forgotten. The Japanese, the victims of America's most atrocious assault in the history of humanity, are the happy tourist of the Pearl harbour. Majority of the leftish White feels righteous about reading the Huffington post while huffing about Bush and Blair. It protests against wars, but from an armchair and over beer, because war is what in effect finances the enlightened lifestyle to which America (of any colour) feels entitled--now and through investment/pension schemes. Comfortably Geek, ex-hippies of America have turned hip-greens on the pastures of the Silicon Valley. Their dirty jobs are done by the Yellow slaves. Their industrial dumps are handled by the Black ones who also supply the raw materials--while Bill Gates and Bill Clinton "educate" their pupils into the capitalist doctrine. Their post-modern causes are less racism, and more gay rights and environment. (As soon as the Supreme court recognized equal rights for the Gay, America draped itself in the rainbow colors of the facebook and forgot about the Charleston massacre.)

Yet, despite the fact that being a black boy increases your chances of getting killed in America, America does have a Black president, who keeps the debate about race open and live. However, not all colours have a similar representation on the world-protest stage, and this is why I suggest the White world is confused about what to do about racism.

Take the White students who "occupy" this and that, for example. They are either "fringe", hobo-looking, gruffy, tattooed, ringed, bearded, hipster, and often virtual; or well suited up and in the service of this or that right-wing lobby. There are also the more radical and violent ones, whom the White America insists on keeping armed, to defend them from the possible revolt of the black or the Red--such as the confederate Charleston killer. If very well disciplined, or very poor, they will join a "respectable" army to save the mankind, with the world being their simulacrum where they are rewarded by their rate of perishing the bad-guys, just as in video games. But the coloured kids do not dare to protest. When American police shoots black kids and leaves them dead in cold blood, the black parents urge the protesters to peace and calm.

When the white supremacist massacres in the black church, the black community asks for forgiveness. The colour kid who wants to protest joins ISIS. This is the crux of the problem. This is why the world holds a grudge against the white, who by all accounts have been the most destructive, greedy and bloodthirsty humans on earth, and yet least apologetic ones.

Even the "Good White", the most open-minded and benevolent of them all is not fully color-blind and feels 'white-privileged' by the merits of having had access (excess: better food, better nutrition, better education, better brain, bigger brain and more IQ!), and by its sense of charitableness towards the world. For this, it assumes its duty to dictate a solution to this world. Today, the "Good White" is confused and the "Bad White" is in a state of terror. And, because the White is profoundly self-satisfied, self-congratulatory, and self-righteous, it is incapable of comprehending the hatred that his deaf arrogance shall beget.

This confusion about their goodness (by the Good White), and this badassness triggered by terror (felt by the Bad White, the openly racist gun toting one), shall make the White terribly vulnerable. It is nature after all. Under- and over-activated immune systems are dangerous to living organisms. 

As it stands, we are in a vicious circle; and the media, ubiquitous and omnipresent is only speeding up the speed at which we spiral down the whirl of self-destruction. Imagine, if the White disambiguated itself from the illusion of superiority, and began to develop a deeper understanding and true respect for the ways of the rest of the world, things would have had better prospects of improvement.

The White do owe a profound apology to the world for having been such intrusive, exploitative, destructive force in the past 500 years. Human nature is not devoid of inherent violence to dominate, but the technological speed with which the white man has destroyed the world, even for its own race, is what makes them particularly atrocious.

If I were White, I would just shut up for a bit, and sit in a corner and begin to educate myself silently and genuinely about the "lesser" cultures that I have worked so hard to annihilate (instead of insisting that I have a superior solution due to my superior culture). I would also have a deep reflection about my 'superiority' and make calculations about what I have laid to waste in the name of development and progress. Only then, may the rest of the world begin to forgive, and forget.

 A few months ago, I saw a youTube video of a group of Talibans smashing television sets, while filming the event on a cell phone and broadcasting it. We need to listen carefully: our media, their message.

Post Script:

Sharing these thoughts on my personal facebook begot a number of defensive reactions from friends who thought I was attacking their "whiteness". While defending their skin colour, they also proposed a few solutions to solve the problems of the world, which were independent of the topic of "racism" to which I wanted to pay focused attention. I have since offered the following clarifications, which I like to document here for posterity:

What I wrote is so much less about the colour of skin, than about a particular culture that a skin embodies. The generalization is not about the colour of skin, but the colour of a culture. 

In my "rash generalizations about the 'white' philosophy and views", I started my piece by saying that we are all racists, not in the least because it "encapsulates our way of life; our luxuries, our rituals, our communities, our prejudices, and all the rest of the things we use to identify ourselves and to make sense of our worlds.", and therefore we suppress a visceral discomfort when we come to contact with the 'other'. I then said that the 'white are particularly confused about their racist reality because although "Westerners in particular probably tend to harbour a sense of superiority", "that is well masked by rationalizations to the contrary", and yet it "unveils itself when put to the test by exposure to "the other", in the form of immigration or tourism." 

The "shut up and listen more" is a recommendation for the white culture, which has dominated the world by the merit of being loud and coming through megaphones of industrialized military, and materialist hegemony. 

The loud white has drowned every voice in this globe through the cacophony of intra-cultural debating of the flavors of a) its own philosophies and b)misappropriation of the philosophies of others. You see, in your response to me, you have felt compelled to come strong to assert your views about let's "condemn violence in all its forms, and continue both to speak and to listen. And to learn that if we continue to preach generalizations about race, we'll simply continue to live out those generalizations, and to form our actions on their basis, instead of banish those concepts from our global mindset and move on to matters of more pressing urgency: controlling our population growth, respecting our environments, normalizing our relationships, eradicating our arms stockpiles, and so on." ... it is to this kind of self-righteous statement that I say "shut up" [not literally] and LISTEN to what I am trying to say, instead of prescribing MEDICINE/CURE from a particular mindset. To this statement, I would say, let's, before offering our solutions WHILE justifying ourselves on the "natural" right to domination and territorialize, just REFLECT on the responsibility we, all the benefactors of the WHITE SUPREMACY, bear. My piece is not about RACISM, it is about the confusion of the "white".

This was not sufficient, as another friend joined the discussion to further attack me for ad hominem, for discarding the content of the previous comment because it was coming from a "self righteous whity". Luckily for me, another "whitey" came to my rescue to underline how that very comment was a proof of how this particular "enlightened European" mind does not LISTEN, proving my point! But I had to offer extra contextualization:

 I think we have to contextualize "self-righteous". It is not addressed at X [and I am sure he didn't think that], it is brought up to point to a particular "mode of communication" which I critique as "white" [aka, any of us, including myself, who are indoctrinated by the European _REASON_]. (This is what I think Y hinted at as well, about your reaction to my reaction--before discussion of my post)

My post is about the "confusion" of the "white" about its self-righteousness; and I do explain what that looks like: "OFFERING SOLUTIONS ACCORDING TO ONE'S OWN WORLD VIEW". The Self-Righteous is referencing what I said in the main post: "The irony is that one generation later, self-righteousness of those who absolved their racist White cultures by trying to open the doors of their countries to "immigrants and refugees" from their ex-colonies is manifesting in the behavior of those who think they have already paid their dues to those they had robbed in the past centuries. "Get over it", they say, for they got over the Nazi atrocities, for example." ... 

This post is my conclusion that "WE" cannot offer solutions, we cannot appease, we cannot bring 'reason' to a situation that is tragic and a situation that has become so tragic BECAUSE of our "reasonable" philosophies in the past 2-3 centuries. I say "we" because I am the student of a "white" way of researching, exploring, exploiting and navigating the world myself.

Racism is a topic that I am trying to grapple with as an immigrant, who is about to become unwanted (because of my assumes religion); as a settler on a land occupied and tensions unresolved (like on HWY 15 walls of the big red factory painted with "STOLEN INDIAN LAND"); as an Iranian whose entire history is marked by resistance to colonization (with some success, although at times at hefty price of war and repression). I am trying to understand racism as a 'scientist' of human development, emotions, pain, stress, 'epigenetics'. And I am trying to grapple with "racism", as a human who breaks down when sighting a confederate flag blowing on the beaches of a modern democracy-exporter. 

And as I am grappling with the issue of race, as I come to contact with cultures new and foreign and weird or fascinating to me, I acknowledge, as I did at the beginning of my post, that I REACT as a human to the novelty and the foreignness of the 'other'. 

And I am more and more convinced that we cannot offer solution, not even condolences to the black men of America who are the likely targets of police brutality; we cannot sit at the same table and ask the First nation of Canada to "let's move on from the tragedy of your cultures burning either in the ethanol of our CIVILIZATION, or frack-tured by our imported notions of development and progress. The racism experienced by the black and the indians is incomparable to anything that anyone else may have suffered. The brutality of their history numbs my tongue. All I can do is to be silent (even when I shoudl with them, for them), and to bow my head and to LISTEN to what solution THEY offer, To what THEY say will reduce their pain. 

So no, I am not asking the "whities to shut up" in order to stifle discussions. I am asking that we stop believing that we KNOW the solution because we are convinced of our own supremacy. 

This weekend, I read a great book "Undercommons" (I have one chapter to go). I share excerpts, which resonates with King's, with Fanon's ... whose statements, I think resonate with what I wrote in the original post.

P.S. I totally understand your irritation with "skin colour", and this is why I was happy that Andrew called me on it, so I could clarify. This is really not about the colour of skin, it's about the colour of cultures.

This was still "not acceptable"!

So I leave a few excerpts from

Martin Luther King:
Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shores, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles of racial supremacy. 
We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its Indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or feel remorse for this shameful episode. Our literature, our films, our drama, our folklore all exalt it." (Why We Can't Wait, 1963) 

From Franz Fanon:
"When I search for Man in the technique and the style of Europe, I see only a succession of negations of man, and an avalanche of murders. The human condition, plans for mankind and collaboration between men in those tasks which increase the sum total of humanity are new problems, which demand true inventions. Let us decide not to imitate Europe; let us combine our muscles and our brains in a new direction. Let us try to create the whole man, whom Europe has been incapable of bringing to triumphant birth.

Two centuries ago, a former European colony decided to catch up with Europe. It succeeded so well that the United States of America became a monster, in which the taints, the sickness and the inhumanity of Europe have grown to appalling dimensions.

Comrades, have we not other work to do than to create a third Europe? The West saw itself as a spiritual adventure. It is in the name of the spirit, in the name of the spirit of Europe, that Europe has made her encroachments, that she has justified her crimes and legitimized the slavery in which she holds four-fifths of humanity. Yes, the European spirit has strange roots. All European thought has unfolded in places which were increasingly more deserted and more encircled by precipices; and thus it was that the custom grew up in those places of very seldom meeting man." (The Wretched of the Earth, 1961)

From an introduction to a contemporary book about racism:
If you want to know what the undercommons wants, what Moten and Harney want, what black people, indigenous peoples, queers and poor people want, what we (the “we” who cohabit in the space of the undercommons) want, it is this – we cannot be satisfied with the recognition and acknowledgement generated by the very system that denies a) that anything was ever broken and b) that we deserved to be the broken part; so we refuse to ask for recognition and instead we want to take apart, dismantle, tear down the structure that, right now, limits our ability to find each other, to see beyond it and to access the places that we know lie outside its walls. We cannot say what new structures will replace the ones we live with yet, because once we have torn shit down, we will inevitably see more and see differently and feel a new sense of wanting and being and becoming. What we want after “the break” will be different from what we think we want before the break and both are necessarily different from the desire that issues from being in the break." (Introduction to Undercommons, by Jack Halberstam)

From John Metta
"White people are in a position of power in this country because of racism. The question is: Are they brave enough to use that power to speak against the system that gave it to them?
So I’m asking you to help me. Notice this. Speak up. Don’t let it slide. Don’t stand watching in silence. Help build a world where it never gets to the point where the Samaritan has to see someone bloodied and broken.

As for me, I will no longer be silent. I’m going to try to speak kindly, and softly, but that’s gonna be hard. Because it’s getting harder and harder for me to think about the protection of White people’s feelings when White people don’t seem to care at all about the loss of so many Black lives."

And finally, Elie Wiesel:

An immoral society betrays humanity because it betrays the basis for humanity, which is memory. An immoral society deals with memory as some politicians deal with politics. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

# 175 Martyred Divers

By Hassan Gholamali Fard #175 ﺷﻬﻴﺪﻏﻮﺍﺹ
Translation: Naj of Neoresistance

I could hold my breath the longest.

Mohammad who was the funniest of us used to say: "The oxygen in your capsule is untapped." Sometimes we competed in holding our breath. I was the last to let go. This is why I was the permanent member of any operations depending on silence and camouflage.

"Death in water is martyrdome", Ali had said once, "so martyrdom in water is a double blessing." In fact, this is why Ali had become a diver. Mohammad used to say, "Ali is like a fish, he can't stand the earth. If he had your lungs, we could not pull him out of water."

Ali was from Tigris, a child of Shatt. He used to say that Al-Faw and Majnoon were not islands, but a mass of haunted humans who have turned into the shape of an island. He used to say if someone dies in these Southern waters, he will become part of Majnoon [1].

Now we are all lying next to one another. We were supposed to be at the bottom of the waters.  We were supposed to see the rays of sun dancing through the waves when we looked up. We were supposed to collect colourful stones and sea shells for Mohammad's 3 year old daughter. Instead, smell of dust is filling my nostrils. They have laid us straight next to eachother. Handcuffed. I turn to look at Ali. He is restless, like a fish out of water. It breaks my heart.  I

 turn from Ali to Mohammad. His face is on the ground. In his weakened face, there is still a sparkle of humor. He says: "it wasn't our destiny to become water martyrs".

I hear bulldozers. Now they are dumping earth on us. I hold my breath. Mohammad shouts: "Don't be foolish, this way you will suffer more." I don't hear him any more. Earth has filled his nose and throat.

Ali and Mohammad are both next to me. I can feel them moving under earth. My chest is heavy. Layers of earth become thicker and thicker. My body begins itching. The heaviness of the earth is crushing my ribs. Ali and Mohammad are not moving anymore. *We were supposed to die in the water,  I mean this is what we thought, but not by drowning or suffocating.* Ali used to say: "water doesn't suffocate us, but earth kills us."  Now were are dying under earth, tons of earth.

I don't know if my eyes are open or closed. But they burn. I cannot remember the taste of water. I think of Mohammad and Ali. Ali must have become a part of Majnoon now; and Mohammad a piece of colourful stone in his daughter's hands.

The fish who dies last suffers the most, for he sees the death of the other fish. But I ... am still holding my breath.

[1] Majnoon in Arabic means "crazy". The etymology is apparently related to the massive amount of oil reserves in a single land mass. Iraqis used chemical weapons on Iranian troops to take the Island back. It is recently discovered, upon the return of the bodies of the missing Iranian soldiers, that Iraqis had buried them alive. If these atrocity reminds of you ISIS practices, don't be surprised. The ISIS is led by the disenfranchised Saddam military men.

These kinds of Nazi-like operations can only stem from the sick minds of the likes of Rumsfeld.
Saddam Hossein & Rumsfeld in 1983

Thursday, March 12, 2015

With Enemies Like These, Who Needs Friends?

I can't have enough fun with this.

I highlight the parts that make me laugh my heart out!


"in our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy.  It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history.  This indicates that like Netanyahu, who considers peace as an existential threat, some are opposed to any agreement, regardless of its content.

Zarif expressed astonishment that some members of US Congress find it appropriate to write to leaders of another country against their own President and administration. He pointed out that from reading the open letter, it seems that the authors not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.
Foreign Minister Zarif added that "I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law. The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfil the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.
 The Iranian Foreign Minister added that "Change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Iran`s peaceful nuclear program." He continued "I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with the stroke of a pen, as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.
He emphasized that if the current negotiation with P5+1 result in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.
Zarif expressed the hope that his comments "may enrich the knowledge of the authors to recognize that according to international law, Congress may not modify the terms of the agreement at any time as they claim, and if Congress adopts any measure to impede its implementation, it will have committed a material breach of US obligations.
The Foreign Minister also informed the authors that majority of US international agreements in recent decades are in fact what the signatories describe as "mere executive agreements" and not treaties ratified by the Senate.
He reminded them that "their letter in fact undermines the credibility of thousands of such mere executive agreements that have been or will be entered into by the US with various other governments.
Zarif concluded by stating that "the Islamic Republic of Iran has entered these negotiations in good faith and with the political will to reach an agreement, and it is imperative for our counterparts to prove similar good faith and political will in order to make an agreement possible."

Sunday, January 11, 2015

How to fear Islam without Islamophobia!

Yesterday, a friend asked: how can you fight Islamophobia while at the same time maintaining your position against the atrocities that are committed by the Islamic States? 

It is really hard! It is particularly hard for people like me who have no religion; who find ALL religions a source of mayhem and misery; who have no god, no angels. Nor any hell or heaven, other than history and hope, respectively. 

But I feel compelled to defend Islam these days; Islam in the way it was taught to me in the Islamic Republic of Iran, first by my grandmother, and next by the state. 

From my grandmother, I learned how to pray, I learned how to have faith in a greater power who sees over me and who protects me if I stay within the path laid out before me by that greater power! As a kid, I read a lot of biblical stories. They are good stories, just as good as the greek myths are, but maybe a bit better for they have moral clarity and happy endings for the good guys--which the greek ones don't often--and in my view therein lies the crux of the occidental.oriental misunderstandings. 

The schools became Islamic when I turned 8! The first two years were virtually indifferent, we just tore out the picture of the Shah and his wife and son from the three pages of our book. Iran was a Muslim country during the Shah too, so nothing really needed to change--other than the bars and dance clubs shutting down.

In those early post-revolution months, I watched my mother and my aunt let go from work. On the surface, it was because they were deemed "unislamic", because they did not dress in an Islamic way or behave in an Islamic way. But the truth was that they were powerful and independent-thinking women and had made enemies of the previously lower-ranked men (and also women) who had bubbled up with the revolution to grow beards and veil their earlier prostitution under thick black chadors, in order to take the higher positions--just the regular revolution stuff that happens everywhere). Both of these role-model women in my life said that they would "suffocate" with a scarf; both of them chose home rather than the Islamic uniform. Not that they were given a choice, but that they refused to conform so they chose the consequences of non-conformism. 

There were many women who chose a different path, who chose to stay. They put on a tight scarf and continued working just as before. In the hindsight, I think they are the ones who reformed the system and kept it from falling apart (the likes of Shirin Ebadi, for instance). 

When I turned 10, we moved to a more conservative place, where the school made us wear a scarf. My mother, scarf-unfriendly and Hijab-naive, ordered us two "fashiony" but funny scarves that I now see commonly worn by the Moroccans in Holland. They covered the forehead fully and then had two wings that you would cross over your chest. Later on, this was the fashion worn by the flight attendants. On the first day to school in Kerman, I was introduced to a Bahai girl to take care of me! She was frightened by the scarf and how COMPLETE my 'hijab' was; "why have they given the Muslim girl to me to babysit?", she reminisced many years later. 

Soon, my pink and hair covering scarf changed to a more normal one, a blue square scarf which I fold into a triangle and tie it up under my neck. In those days, I had soft long hair so the scarf would fall often. I also had long hair, so the scarf could never really cover my hair fully and I got warnings about that in school from the principal, often. 

Then we were forced to pray once a week in school. We did, reluctantly; but we also created fun events around that, like staying in school for lunch and picnicking under the tree! The ISlamic indoctrination also included a few hours of religious lessons every week, they included reading and reciting and memorizing some verses of Quoran, as well as lessons about the history of Islam, the early converts, the wars and why they began. 

In the version of Islam that we were presented in school, the running theme was that ISlam is a religion of justice, of egalite and equality of men and women, irrespective of race or wealth. We learned that the only thing that distinguished humans was their degree of faith. No where in any of those lessons were we told that women are 'inferior' to men; au contraire, we heard often that women were more special, that the heaven was under the feet of mothers, that Mohammad's wife and daughter were an example of HOW IMPORTANT women were in Islam. 

There were teachings about Hijab, and how it is to protect women from the random gaze of the lusting men; and I really cannot recall anything more sticking that that. None of these stories were to impress us Islamically! 

The circle in which I lived despised the Islamic and the Republic together; for this reason my family and most of my relatives were outcasts from the state order. But no one really bothered us; we did what we wanted at home, and there was peace and safety and food and fun even at the time of the war. The biggest Islamic burden we had to deal with was the Hijab. I remember that we often got 'stopped' for it when we went to the mall; and my mother would take the "arresters" aside and lecture them by reciting to them segments of Koran that protected us from their vigilantism; and who could argue with Qoran? 

Other than this, there were virtually no other limits for us as women in the society--if they were, they were imposed by tradition and by chauvinism; and often by other women. 

We did have a funny religious leader then, by the name of Imam Khomeini, whose religious 'superiority' was questioned by many religious people, but by curious events in the history he was flown to Iran, from Paris, to hijack a revolution that had three elements in it, nationalism and communism as well as Islamism. His Islamism posed a less threat to the material interests of the West than did nationalism or communism and so before you know it, he declared the republic as Islamic. A referendum was held, "Islamic Republic? Yes (greed)/No (red) /Abstain (white)). There were gun men, angry gun men, who meddled with those elections, and the vote came out as yes and then mayhem and misery ensued. First there was the hostage crisis (which landed Reagan his victory). 

Next was the war (and the Iran gate). Then, there was the mass execution of political prisoners on Khomeini's decree. Followed by the Salman Rushdi Fatwa. And with all this, every day, Iranians grew less and less Islamic. 

I grew more Islamic though! I went to university right after Khomeini died. Being in Tehran, and in a highly politicized university, and hanging out with the 'writers and artists' in the university, I was drawn to reading about Islam in a philosophical way. And then, I left the country and stopped paying attention to Iran (until I Started this blog 8 years ago), for I had to deal with life as an immigrant plucked from the comfort and protection offered to me in my patriarchic country, and planted in a country where I, as a slim girl had to push my broken car in the snow into a gas station, because there were no "chauvinist muslim man" to lend me a hand! We give one, we gain one. 

At the time that I was not paying attention to Iran, the country was becoming less Islamic, but there were also more acute/radical forms of Islamism emerging. This was because new political factions were emerging in Iran, all Islamic but distinguishing themselves in interpretation of it, depending on what economic interest was espoused by which group; and then there were killings and assassination of dissident political activist, writers, and artists (by the decree of unknown or obscure mullahs with harsh interpretations of Islam). (So this Paris event is like a deja vu for many of us Iranians.) 

But in ALL this, the real Muslims of Iran have no share. They see all these factional fights as politics; and as geopolitics. Islam is a name that is protecting the economic interests of a few, and we are still experimenting with the best way to circumvent this 'plague'. 

And I really think the world needs to pay attention to Iran and to Egypt and to Syria and Iraq, to understand the delicate interplay between rationalism and political Islam as it unfolds today. (This is why I say knee jerk reactions are useless). 

When countries and cultures are under siege, one needs motivation to DEFEND them. Religions provide that. No wars are ever fought by rationalism. Wars need emotional stimuli; and the more the assault on a culture, the stronger the emotions become. 

The western folks will not just go to fight muslims without emotional stimuli. This was provided by the 911 attacks and by the Paris attack. 

Today, I am finding myself emotionally engaged in defending a religion that I don't care for, but I feel obliged to defend because I can see how it is being mispackaged into a certain consumable that leads to nothing but war. Islam Is a political religion; but all religions are political. I am sorry to say this, but the adversaries of Islam, today, have no moral ground to stand on. If I were the king of the world, I would recommend to people to, instead of fighting Islam by defending the "western values" (which judging from the history of the past 400 years, are pretty unjust and violent!), launch a campaign for FAIRNESS and JUSTICE FOR ALL ... This "clash of cultures" is the precise war-scenario in which the lords of the ring have invested.

Monday, August 11, 2014

War-profiteers who donate to "United Against Nuclear Iran"

Salon has just turned in a piece of investigative journalism, drawing attention to a likely link between the former US diplomat in the UN, Mark Wallac (who is the current executive director of UNAI) and the billionaire Thomas Kaplan, the proponent if speculative investment in precious metals. Salon's piece suggests that these groups profit financially from increasing tensions between Iran and the world, and are betting on a war to cash their investments.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Iran's tally: "Two big losers of the Gaza war"

I have been perplexed by a lack of mentioning of the name Iran, in all ping-pong allegations between Israel and Hamas; and who is funding who and is colluding with whom. Today, I saw FP pointing at Saudi Arabia and Turkey as US allies who also fund Hamas, but again no mention of Iran.

Some speculate that the recent war on Gaza, to be more precise, Natanyahu's defiance of international law and world  opinion on his immoral and illegal actions, is a sign for imminent war with Iran.

But, as I have often maintained, Iran and Israel will not fight each other, nor will they fight Saudi Arabia. They will continue to fight proxy wars as they do now. And an example of the way they fight each other at the present moment can be sniffed from an editorial piece in IRNA:  

(Translation by Naj@neoresistance, free to use with permission.)

Two big losers of the Gaza war

According to Parsineh:"After the ISIS attack on Iraq, the core argument pursued by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and international media implied that the conflict in Iraq was not an internal affair, but a full-blown global war between the Sunni and the Shiite which would eventually engulf the entire region beyond Iraq. 
However, with Israel's callous attack on and apparent genocide in Gaza, the equation has suddenly changed. ISIS, which had succeeded in presenting an anti-Shiite image of itself to the Sunnis of region, a strategy with which it had made a few strides in Iraq and Syria, remained silent about the genocide in Gaza. Gazaners are Sunnis, and if ISIS was genuine in its claims, it ought to have condemned the atrocities against the Gaza Sunnis in the least. 
On the other hand, it was Lebanon's Hizbollah and the Islamic Republic of Iran--accused of creating the Shiite crescent by ISIS--who rushed to aid Gaza and stand with the people of Palestine and Hamas Islamic resistance, despite the fact that Hamas and other fundamentalist arabs are fighting against Bashar Assad in Syria. 
With this account, we can say that the Gaza war had two big losers. 
First, the occupying Israeli regime who could not achieve its goals and had to retreat even more infamously in the public opinions as child-killer; and second, ISIS who was to sizzle the bloody Sunni-Shiite fight in the Middle East. 
The blood of Palestinian martyrs has bound the Sunni and Shiites, and has blocked the blood bath that was planned based on religious slogans.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Even the "oppressed" Iranians are protesting to the recent Gaza massacres

And is the women in the front row the mother of Ashkan Sohrabi?
And is is Isa Saharkhiz who is standing next to Jafar Panahi?
You know who is not protesting? Some of the "self-acclaimed Iranian's human right defenders " (the sort who gets into frenzy to collect signatures to stop execution of this or that), and is on some form of Democracy-fund payroll!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

This is Iran, and her women!

Three news titles have caught my attention today and I found them neo-resistance worthy:

1) The Iranian government has appointed the forth female governor in another one of Iran's rural (and interestingly, Sunni) regions. I will post her picture when I find it, but the previous three are:

(1) Masoomeh Parandwar (Sistan & Baluchestan, Hamoun)

(2) Homeyra Rigi (Sistan & Baluchistan, Ghasrghand)

(3) Marjan Nazghelichi (Golestan, Bandar-Torkman)

2) A peaceful demonstration was held in one of Tehran's central intersections, some female citizens (according to pictures I have seen) expressing their concern and "questioning sleazy men who tolerate their wife's immodest attire"!

It reads: Proud men have modest wives.

3) Journalist in exile, Masih Alinejad has started a new facebook campaign, that has amassed over 100,000 fans in no time, called "Stealthy freedoms of Iranian Women". On the page, women post Hijab-less pictures of themselves taken in Iran. I post a picture of Massih Alinejad, herself.

Masih Alinejad in Iran
Alinejad, early days in America (refugee after 2009 election)

Massih Alinejad, 2013.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Are you wondering about Norouz etiquette?

Between March 15-April 1st; you are likely to witness a certain level of excitement in your Iranian (or other Persian) friends and colleagues. It is because their new year starts at the moment of Spring Equinox. The equinox fall on March 20 or 21st, and this day is called Norouz, nowrouz or Norooz. Since 2010, this day has made it to the UNESCO's list of world's cultural heritages.  This is a very old tradition; at least 25 centuries old, judged by the sculptures in Persepolis.

Some of you might wonder what you should do or say on this occasion. First, note that Norouz is NOT a religious ceremony. It is a celebration of nature. Therefore, it is an occasion for EVERYONE to celebrate and to cherish.

This is a very big deal for Persians; and it would be well appreciated if you acknowledge the occasion; and join in the festivities.

What I love most about Norooz is that it is a day that you are supposed to let the grudges go; you let the sorrow and pain go and make a pledge to do well and to intend well.

On this day, we don't exchange gifts (although the elders in the family would give a few crisp notes to the youngsters), so if you are invited to a party, you don't have to bring anything. But parties are not common either. All we do is that we pay a visit to each other, short visits, enough to have a couple of cookies, a cup of tea, some fruit; and then move on to the next visit. We have to visit as many friends and family as possible; starting by age or those who are recently (less than a year) bereaved. 

This is a really simple ceremony; simple and ancient.

Join in the mood; smile, laugh with them, be happy and positive on this day, and wish your Persian friends a "Happy New Year". As simple as it is, Norouz is a HUGE deal to them, in meaning and concept.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy 1393!

Well, I made a little error decorating Ash Reshteh, and thought it's year 1394!!

It's quite funny that for an entire year, I have been thinking that I am one year older than what I actually am!

I pray for peace.

This is a year that I am very optimist. Not just about Iran, but about the whole world. I think we are AWAKENING. We have avoided many wars; and we don't seem to be so war- and capitalism-prone anymore. There is always a bright side to all darkness. And this is the lesson I have learned since my last year's horrible adventures, which also ended at about this time last year.

Life is only going to be exciting.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Obama, why did you have to speak in such a way to make me vomit?!

So this will be the big headline on Sunday:

Iran and 5+1 reached a deal!


But Obama, I listened to your live address, and, not exaggerating, not figuratively speaking, I vomited and shouted "Eff you USA!"

I know your address was to appease your rabid dog in Tel Aviv; and his puppies in Congress. I know you KNOW that I ran is not after any nuclear weapon, and you know what if it were, it would only be in order to prevent thugs like you and your "friends and allies" from illegally blockading its assets and its revenues and from imposing "crippling sanctions" on it for refusing to succumb to your hegemony!

What the hell was with that tone of yours! The posturing! Don't you feel like a bully after this address? A rough and scruff bully, unsophisticated, uneducated, biased, prejudiced, narrow minded! Don't you see Netanyahu in the mirror, when you wake up to look at yourself before history? Didn't you feel like a bigot when you delivered this 'live" performance?

You want world peace, Mr Obama? Well, dismantle your oil-sucker corporations; your auto-industry that is in unholy alliance with them. Stop your militaristic economy; and let go of your war-profiteering heritage!

You want world peace, Mr Obama? Well, stop hookering up with Saudi Arabia and Israel!

You want world peace, Mr Obama? Speak peacefully; and do NOT accuse countries of pursuing a bomb, while turning a blind eye on the most criminal, UN-defying, genocidal, land-stealing, war-profiteering of all Middle Eastern governments: I-S-R-A-E-L!

I cannot express, clearly enough, how I DETEST your address ...

I know this deal will benefit Iran in the long run.

I know Israel is mad, not with this deal, because it is peanuts; but mad with the direction these negotiations have provided and the priority that they scream: "the US wants a piece of Iran's pie". (Seriously, lifting sanctions on "Auto industry"; and not aviation? Why, GM wants to compete with the Korean, the Japanese and the French auto-industries in making sure Iran's home-grown industry dies with "Pride"?)

But, next time around, adjust your rhetorics.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Something bigger than a phone call, after 35 years ...

A few days ago, at about the same time that the president of Iran was landing in NYC, I hovered above Manhattan, heading South to Florida, armored to fight an old battle. Comfortably seated in front of a large Boeing, looking down on the green land of the New England, the Potomac river, the Philadelphia farms--the Empire, densely populated with a republic who champions and cherishes freedom and hard work, I wondered how was Iran's president processing the landscape on his first official voyage to NYC.

My personal observations (and numerous similar stories I have heard ever since), have poisoned me to think America is a rotten place--ironically over its health-care/welfare/labor politics/policies about which the Americans themselves have grown wary enough to hopefully seek change. I also remain convinced that America's potential to change is the best hope that humanity has got!

Change, the slogan that brought Obama to power in America.
Change, the slogan that brought Rouhani to power in Iran.
Change from the exploitative and confrontation logic of George Bush and Mahmud Ahmadinejad.
But most importantly, Change, the unequivocal demand of millions of world citizens who are tired of burning in perpetual cold wars, suspicion and animosity.

I think the biggest CHANGE factor is in the modes and manners of communicating with the "other".

Despite what everyone calls a "cautious approach", I believe what is before us is larger than just good old diplomacy, it is a realistic honesty that is perhaps marking a new form of diplomacy.

In this new world where we have become accustomed to voting for future pop stars with a mobile phone, where we are 'like'ing and 'tweet'ing our next presidents; the diplomatic game also needs to be played on open stage, as a "reality" popularity context. People will buy more eagerly, what is before their eyes, raw and naked. And this is how I think our new world shall begin; through OUR demands for transparency, and our expressed opinions.

This is a first example:

In an unprecedented move, upon being appointed, Iran's Foreign minister and Nuclear negotiator, Javad Zarif, set up a Facebook account (triggering debates in Iran's censors about un-filtering access to facebook and its beneficial function). On his facebook, with 315K fans, Zarif keeps us up to date about his activities--sometimes as mundane as falling asleep in a meeting due to jetlag. When he accepted the job, he posted:

Hello friends, 

I have accepted this job, asking help from god the almighty, and with the hopes of serving the people, elevating the reputation of Iran and Iranians, and improving the international situation towards reducing the economic pressure on [my] dear people. 

I Thank you who have extended your kindness to me and I hope to be deserving of your gratitude.

I will try to keep my connection with you, and I hope to be able to report to more or less frequently, on this page and through the web site of the ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Of my intelligent, gracious and considerate friends who visit this page, I request sincerely and insistingly, to not turn this page into a forum of complaints or (god forbid,) insults directed at individuals, groups, parties, ethnicities and religions; and to seriously avoid political slogans that are hurtful to others and distract us from the chance of dialogue and understanding. With due respect for all opinions, should I encounter such, I will remove them. But you will agree that we will not have time to monitor all the expressed opinions, and hence, we take no responsibility for the content of the statements. 
I look forward to your guidance and your prayers. 
This attitude is a major break-away from the old attitudes of Iran's ruling elite:

1) By daily reporting of his activities as a Foreign minister, he is educating the general public about the nuances of diplomatic relations. This is the first step in opening a window into the operation of a state, for a society that has historically distrusted its governments, treating them as extraterrestrial or puppet entities. Not only does he report, but he also reacts to critical or constructive views. For example, after Obama-Rouhani's phone call triggered an angry reaction from the hardliners in Iran who invoked the memory of the War and the Blood of the martyrs, he quickly responded (albeit indirectly, and without any confrontation) by acknowledging the week of the Sacred Defense, expressing his respect for the war veterans and stating that half of the foreign ministry staff were war veterans and that he hoped to uphold all the values for which those martyrs had died.

2) By joining the social network, this minister is seeking the opinions of the people, and although he puts up a request for respect and tolerance, but he does not dictate any mode of behavior, nor he states any strong or dogmatic opinions of his. He even addresses those, who may be potential "bigots" as "the intelligent, gracious and considerate". More importantly, in a country where cartoonists used to get punished for depicting officials in critical drawings, Iran's new foreign minister "shares" cartoons of himself! This "embracing" attitude was also on display in the second half of Rouhani's speech in the UN.

3) He puts on display one of the finest of Persian mannerisms. He is thoroughly courteous, and humble, he puts his faith and his powers in god's hands and he asks for understanding, forgiveness and guidance from his audience. With this humility, he sets a new tone to the voice of a nation that has gone coarse in the past 35 years shouting death-to-X,Y,Z slogans. What the western pundit calls "charm offensive" or "charm onslaught" is nothing but Persian mannerism. This is how people treat each other in Iran, no matter how deep the mutual distrusts and the feuds. (in fact, to request a phone call with Obama was a perfectly normal and polite thing to do in our culture, because Rouhani had first refused to meet face to face with Obama and it was only normal to make a later phone call. This is also a break from the hostile and impolite tone and actions taken towards America in particular (and the west in general) in the past 35 years.

This honesty could be heard in Obama's UN address as well:
All of us must recognize that peace will be a powerful tool to defeat extremists throughout the region and embolden those who are prepared to build a better future. And, moreover, ties of trade and commerce between Israelis and Arabs could be an engine of growth and opportunity at a time when too many young people in the region are languishing without work. 

So let’s emerge from the familiar corners of blame and prejudice; let’s support Israeli and Palestinian leaders who are prepared to walk the difficult road to peace.


And while we recognize that our influence will, at times, be limited, although we will be wary of efforts to impose democracy through military force, and although we will, at times, be accused of hypocrisy and inconsistency, we will be engaged in the region for the long haul, for the hard work of forging freedom and democracy is the task of a generation. And this includes efforts to resolve sectarian tensions that continue to surface in places like Iraq, Bahrain and Syria.


[T]he United States has a hard-earned humility when it comes to our ability to determine events inside other countries. Now, the notion of American empire may be useful propaganda, but it isn’t borne out by America’s current policy or by public opinion. Indeed, as recent debates within the United States over Syria clearly show.
The danger for the world is not an America that is too eager to immerse itself in the affairs of other countries, or to take on every problem in the region as its own. The danger for the world is, that the United States after a decade of war, rightly concerned about issues aback home, aware of the hostility that our engagement in the region has engendered throughout the Muslim world, may disengage creating a vacuum of leadership that no other nation is ready to fill. 
I believe such disengagement would be a mistake. I believe America must remain engaged for our own security, but I also believe the world is better for it. Some may disagree. But I believe America is exceptional. In part because we have shown a willingness through the sacrifice of blood and treasure to stand up not only for our own narrow self interest, but for the interest of all.

I think I agree with Obama ...

But what is significant in the events of the past few days is that these politicians have risen above the politics (without disengaging from politics) to be the voice of the people who have invested a hope for change in them. What is significant is that "we", the people, do have a voice now, that we are heard by the politicians who want to make it to the pages of history (perhaps not the lobby-paid Majlis/congress(wo)men), that when we say we won't die in vain, we are taken seriously; and that politicians are more eager to gamble on winning our approval, than to gamble on winning a war. No attack was launched on Syria, none will be launched on Iran, and nor on Israel.

For 35 years, I grew up in a poisonous and paradoxical stand off with an enemy-friend, America! For the past 8 years, I have been fighting hard, here, in neo-resistance, to make sure my country would not fall victim to the malicious desires of the mis-translators who are still banging their war drums.

And since a few hours ago, I have been sniffing the fragrance of PEACE ... but more than peace between Iran and America, what matters to me is the peace between Iranians and their government. This is just the beginning. If Iran and America have 35 years of hatred to iron out; Iranians and their government have 350 years of distrust to fix. But Rouhani's on the right track. And even to his subtly distrusting critics, he seems like someone who has been on the right track from start.

Netanyahu is huffing and puffing, but we must turn our eyes towards Russia now ... potentially a more dangerous friend than is the current enemy (or the bargaining leverage?), Israel ...