Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gaza Cartoon Contest

By Wahyu Kokkang, Indonesia

By Abdolzahra Salehi, Iran

Iran's Cartoon House is holding the International Gaza Cartoon Contest (by email) and displaying the cartoons on its web site in support of the people of Palestine. (source:payvand)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gaza ...

Has anyone noticed that whenever Palestinians give peace a chance, Israel feels compelled to assassinate some of them, then blockade them and cut food and water supplies, and masterfully force them BACK to violence, so that it can strike back in self-defense!!, and kill hundreds of people (285 so far) who have no fault other then self-defending? And of course, if Iran rolls up the sleeves to HELP the innocent caught in Gaza, it will have deserved a self-defensing-Israeli-attack??!!!

What kind of a 'culture', that thrives on self-pity for historical subjugation, can do the same to other people and look in the eye of the history with self-righteousness?! The Jews are proud of their 'culture' and heritage ... so why don't they speak up, collectively, against the crimes against humanity conducted in their name??! There are a few though ...

A philosophical question: If the "an eye for an eye" holds--which it does in Judaism, would it be okey if Palestinians killed 285 Israelis in rocket attacks?! Or is an Israeli or an American eye more expensive and proportionate to the price of weapons they possess?!!

9-11'ish smoke ... in Gaza ...
Merry Christmas;
and Happy Hannuka, the festival of light!

and Anne's list of when/whom/what to Protest/Lobby/Boycott

Uhmmm ... Santa in Iran!!

click on the photo to see more.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Education Jihad

These pictures taken in a village in the province of Fars (where Persepolis is).
These women (some younger, some old) are learning to read and write.

At the onset, Iran's revolutionary "Islamic Republic" prioritized three objectives (despite the Iran-Iraq imposed war)

Jihad-e Sazandegi (Development Jihad)
Jihad-e Keshavarzi ( Agriculture Jihad)
Jihad-e Amoozeshi (Educational Jihad)--which closed the university doors to 'cleanse' it ideologically, but also dispatched numerous literacy camps across the most rural areas in Iran !

These initiatives were in fact set in place by Shah's regime as facilitators of "modernization". Whereas the Shah has Sepahe Danesh (army of knowledge), Behdasht (health), Keshavarzi (agriculture) even Tarvije khane dari (house keeping), the Islamists replaced the word "Sepah" (army) with Jihad (which literally means 'trying hard', but connotes undeniable duty to God).

I wish to argue that Iran would not have reached the so called Shah-desired "Golden Gates of Modernization", unless under auspices of an "Islamic republic"! Iran is a traditional country which is not fanatic, but is deeply conservative.

I often ponder about my childhood memories of traveling with my mother to rural places where she would be setting up this or that "Sepah". My mother had studied Economics and she worked for the Department of Agriculture. Her job kept her away from home very often! She always boasted bout how she would be going to places where men didn't dare to go. And she took me along some times. I cannot say I am fond of memories of those uncomfortable Land Rover rides that would take me with mother to these dry and 'ugly' villages where I could not play with kids. Even if they were 'groomed' (precondition for me to be allowed to play--out of fear of contracting an illness), I didn't understand their language often! (Not everyone in Iran speaks Persian).

At that time, young men and women had to do a compulsory service in these various "Sepahs". Naturally girls would join these armies. I don't know the details of recruitment but if mother wasn't asleep now I would have asked her (i will add as I learn more from her or Father). From what I recall, there was a large number of 'city' girls, who were often disgruntled about having to "serve". I don't know why but my parents had a habit of taking me to work with them! It wasn't because they didn't have baby sitters as my Grandmother lived with us and she always had two workers in the house (young women from villages who would not eat with us, who would not know how to read and write, and whom my sweet little Papa drove to their houses on the weekends--and now i am refreshing my memories of how YOUNG I was when i learned what poverty looked like ...).

For me it was fun to go to Mother's office; as I got a lot of attention from these young colorful women whom I wished to grow up to look like. But, even at that young age I always wondered why there were SO MANY of them cluttering the corridors and roaming aimlessly ... whatever kind of a job was that?! I would fantasize that they were orphans and that my mother was housing them! (But it was Aunt who ran the orphanage and not Mother, and I knew that these women had to do with the "economy" which was mother's specialty!)

When revolution came, those 'pretty girls' disappeared. Their green shirts, curled hair, 70's Jeans turned into vague memories of Mother and Aunt talking about how X who would not be wearing but a mini skirt, had now turned into a vigilante, reminding my mother to cover her hair--which of course she (and Aunt) refused to do, as they refused to do a lot of other things to CONFORM into what they weren't--thus mother was fired and forced to retire at the age of 43 (but with only a fraction of her pension, as a PUNISHMENT for her non-Islamicism)! Aunt tried hard to get herself fired too, but she didn't succeed. So she just quit--having the luxury of being married to a surgeon ...

With urbanites like mother gone (or 'cleansed', as was the word for getting rid of non-revolutionaries), these modernizing functions fell in the hands of those whom at the beginning "we" (i.e. the non-revolutionary Taghooties) considered incompetent villagers! These villagers, however, were there for a cause ... were there to educate their own people, with whom they shared a far greater affinity. As sensitive as my 'royal' mother was to the 'cause' for her peasants (or someone else's), she would not have been authentic enough to be effective. Feudal arrogance is one of those personality traits that oozes out; it alienates. That arrogance is not replaced with the arrogance of the clergy--which is even more pompous than the feudal one--but because it operated under the umbrella of "godliness" it is not as alienating. (Keep in mind that in Iran there is often a large overlap between the Clergy and the Feudal!)

This is why when I see pictures like these, my heart fills with hope for a future that will not need another bloody revolution to 'set things right'. Way to go ...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Wedding: Iranian Style

I am not much of a "wedding" person!

Like many Iranian girls, my parents were in rush to get me married when I was 21! I married an exceptional man; whom I barely knew; but on whom I had a crush since I was a kid. A man of charisma, courage and great intelligence; and 'proper heritage', which was the only condition set by my family.

But I had a condition of my own:

That I shall not have a wedding; and that I should remain 'free'.

Many years have passed; and I am still married, the man is getting more charismatic, more courageous and his intelligence and good name are always there, and I am almost unimaginably free!

To me the whole wedding ceremony is appalling; the dress, the rituals, the gifts, the kisses, the dissatisfactions, the gossip, the so called "romance on display". I could not go through with THAT. To my mother's disbelief, that her first child would be married off like a homeless, through her tears, and with nothing in my marriage contract but an "apple", to be given to me by my to-be husband, should the marriage not work, I left my Papa's house! Almost two decades later; I am still proud of what I did!

I invite you to share with me your opinions and your stories. We are all anonymous here, so I am curious to hear what people really think about the significance of marriage and particularly the 'wedding' ceremony in their lives, in the society, in the aesthetics of culture, in folk tradition and etc ...

I like to hear your stories!