Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Iranian Rappers and Persian Porn

When I bought the book I expected to read one of those annoying upper middle class tales of nagging about freedom (there lack of) and fundamentalism and the kind of self promotional bourgeois-autography for which the publishers seem to have a palate.

But, this turned to be a surprise; a hilarious one.

A poor British backpacker, with a couple of thousand dollars of saving, quits his job and hitchhikes to Iran. This book is about his adventures.

Luckily for Jamie Maslin (and his readers), he is shielded from the upper-class Tehrani society (about whom we often read) for most of his trip (although he meets and spends enough time with them to give us a sense of what they are like, too). As such, his book is full of real Iranians, the other 50 million, who come in all shapes and shades and present him with the paradoxical complexity of the Iranian life and culture. Succinct, but his recounts are full of details, simply but lucidly written facts about all things he encounters.

This book took me home, to scents and scenes of Iran, and made me laugh, laugh really hard!

I won't spoil it for you. Treat yourself to 17 dollars of fun!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Followup: Accidental Heroism of Golshifteh Farahani

My previous post got plenty of comments; I was surprised. But, from the comments, I got a sense that some were not focusing on the crux of the problem I was trying to address (which was the de-contextualization of an actor's professional choices and attributing them into political activism)

Here's a recap:

Just as the Golden Globe victory of an Iranian Film, "A Separation" by Asghar Farhadi, shifted the 'media' attention from war-mongering attitude towards Iran, into the Iranian Cinema (which after capturing Erupean's attention for the past two decades has finally made its way to the mainstream American film industry) Le Figaro published a photo series called "L'Espoire 2012, Generation Spontanee". The series was back and white body portraits of several young french actors, shot by the famous fashion photographer Jean-Baptiste Mondino. One of the photos belonged to an Iranian actress, Golshifteh Farahani, who has been exiled from Iran for a few years, because she had played in a Hollywood film and had not obeyed the dress-code imposed by the IRI on its citizens in her red-carpet appearances.

Farahani, 29, is a young actor, who is raised in an acting family. Because she has been featured in films such as Body of Lies (next to Leo Di Caprio) and in Poulet Aux Prunes, by the Oscar nominated Iranian-French filmmaker Marjan Satrapi (Perspolis, 2007), she may have the attention of the cinema world and serves as an aspiration to many kids of her generation.

Within minutes, her photograph, and another video by the same artist entitled Revelation 2012 (again advertising the future hopes of French Cinema, nominees of Cesar award) showing her dropping her shirt and revealing her breast, generated a massive response in the Iranian cyber-communities.

Within hours, the event polarized the Iranian community. This photo was taken out of its cinematic/aesthetic/French context, and turned into a political/moral phenomeno, at the center of which Farahani was portrayed either as a hero or as a whore. To this individual response was added frustration by the Iranian-Cinema fans who were angered by distraction from the possibility that the global success of A Separation would ease the Iranian independent filmmakers out of recent pressure from fundamentalists.

I have been reacting strongly to the media-naivitee of the Iranian community who had decontextualized this event, and were giving it dimensions grander than it called for. My argument was against those who politicized this gesture as a step towards "democracy"--and I argued that this was first and foremost a personal career choice, a step up on the ladder of show business, nothing more, nothing less.

I argued that just because an Iranian was the subject of the photo, she was not the actor of the art; the designer of the concept, and as such, she deserved no credit for her political savvy--although I admire any persons who are brave to underss themselves before others; it takes self confidence. I argued that if she was a political actor, then she should/could have produced such video independently, with an explicit message tying her act to the cause of "emancipation" or any other case she wanted to promote.

Ever since, I have been reading what people and women have to say. Clearly, the nude body of a cinema star has opened many an infected scars and all sorts of puss is oozing out of the bruised psychology of us Iranians.

I focus on reactions from women. I believe men should have no business supporting/calling for a woman's nudity or 'hijab'. They are qualified to talk about their own sexual emblems [I mean penis], issues and desires--and indeed this is what many have been doing by judging the size of the cup and whether they liked her best covered or revealed. Some have also been 'championing' progressiveness by embracing or standing tall before her naked body (as if she needed men't approval to drop her shirt). So the men's opinions need to be discussed by men; I do not have access to their psych or subjectivity. The female opinions, however, speak of psychological, sociological and political concerns that I, as an Iranian woman am familiar with.

On the one hand, this 'image' has inspired a lot of sentimental romanticist outbursts of females. Some liken Farahani into the Marianne of France (contradicting themselves immediately, because Marianne is a symbol of FRENCH liberty, not of Iranian liberty.), Some others liken her to Tahere Ghorat-ol-Eyn (an educated woman, a poet, who burst into men's assembly, 196 years ago, dropping her veil, and getting herself killed by offending the religious and the patriarchic sensitivity of the men's world). Some liken her to Forough Farokhzad (our taboo-breaking poet, who pulled the curtains from her body as a mother and as a lover through large volumes of poems--her writings focused on what it meant to be a female human.)

On the other hand, this image has dragged a lot of moralist (sexophobes) out of closet. Among the moralists, are those in an 'ethical uproar calling her a whore. Not all of such moralists are Islamists or IRI supporters. Iranians, by culture, are sexually very uptight and hold strange and strict views about "classy" female demeanor.

Another group of these moralists try to be 'apologetic', turning their eyes from the boobs and focus on the "innocent" eyes, chastising those who have been focusing on the breast and blaming them for being 'narrow minded and dirty' to have missed the eyes!

And then another group who doesn't take moralist position but supposedly feminist ones. I think those who are politicizing and glorifying the courage of Farahani's action are another kind of moralists. To them, naked female body is a sin; a source of sin UNLESS it has "higher" abstract and sacred objectives tied to the nation or collective causes. Ironically, the so called sociological excitement of many of these women stems from a shy acknowledgement of their own oppressed sexuality. Now in Golshifteh, they have a role-model to take pride in and thus she immediately turns into a Pride of Persia and gives these women a cause to fight for. The cause of 'supporting Golshifteh" allows them to express what they themselves have never had the courage to express before. The irony is that while acknowledging their PERSONAL lack of courage, they sill manage to blame the society for limiting them by flightening them of possible judgements.

Sadly, it is this group of self-diagnosed intellectuals who is creating an accidental-hero; carving a totem out of a PERSON, who herself was a PROP (and nothing more) in the mise-en-scene of an advertisement for the French Cinema. And because these people have tribunes and audiences, they run the risk of creating yet another superficial 'cult' without thinking it through.

But what part of this picture is wrong?

For me, the wrong originates from making the nude-female-body the sight of political action. To give power to a nude body is the same as if disempower a covered body. Politics that stem from covering or uncovering female body are both objectifying the female gender, by butting it in a sexual box. What makes it wronger to me is that it takes a cinema-actor's body to trigger courage in this group. Here is why:

Bodies that are aesthetised through lighting, and choreography of a video artist are not REAL bodies; they are actor bodies; and they are selected and put before our eyes because we as humans are 'programed' to respond to beauty in a (re)creational way. This is why sex sells, be it in movies, in computers, in books, or in politics. The artistically refined from of sex is eroticism, but the bottomline is the same, they are both FLESH, one is the big steak grilled on a super BBQ, the other one is a filet mignon prepared to perfection in a little cozy Bistro and served with creamy sauce and blanched greens. They are both nutritious, and have a right to exist and be sold for the consumption of people who choose one or the other based on their refinement and capital. Directors chose the subjects of their photo/cinematography in line with stories they want to tell. Or, if they are confined to a certain set of subjects, then they modify other aspects of photoshoot to create their story.

Advertisement videos are propaganda videos. It is the formalist nature of the production that necessitates loading and condensing a lot of messages within a short time slot. Advertisement videos are supposed to capture our thoughts and imaginations well beyond the time they are before our eyes. This is how successful video artists become successful, by holding us beyond the screen. And this is what the Revelation 2012 video does.

Let's look at it from a Non-Iranian's perspective. We see, in black and white, 31 film actors appear one after the other and talk about how they undress their soul and body before our gaze; some undress out of their top and some don't. The only one whose breasts are exposed to the camera is Farahani; the only one who doesn't speak herself, but whose voiceover suggests her "otherness" (why else would she give an image to your imagination?) is Farahani. The casting of Farahani as the ONLY one who reveals herself, as a muslim from Iran who is already banned from going back to her country for having shown her hair in public, is part of the directors's plot. It is to PROVOKE (as he successfully did, and I admire his work of art--it is clever). And he has chosen a perfect PROP for it. That is what actors are for directors. They are part of the mise-en-scene, and their success depends on how well they fulfill their role within the scenario. Then, if there is credit due for political activism, it is due to Cesar Academie who hired JB Mondino and nominated Farahani as part of the 31, not to Farahani. All the did was to say "yes", and as her body is NOT syndicated by the Iranian cinema community, she didn't necessarily need to give a damn about what her actions would have brought the Iranian cinema. This was an opportunity for her, and it would have been unfortunate if she had let fear stand before her and her chance to stardom.

So, discarding the notion that this was Farahani's political act (and settling for its professional motivation), a valid question to ask is, why the video and photos were released right after Golden Globe? The logical answer is that this is the big-award season, the media is buzzing with cinema's famous and fortunate and there is nothing so big to read from this. Fair! That is what the Cesar did; and in fact they have hidden the video from public access. But, Le Figaro is the one that raises suspicion: why did they select only 7/31 actor's photos for Le Figaro? Why did they remove Farahani's photo immediately? Was this part of her contract? What was the content of her contract? And what was the background of publishing the photos concurrent with the shining of Iranian Cinema, for the first time, in the American industry? A sleptic may ask, do the French, as the first explorers who discovered the Iranian Cinema, own the right to define it? What this a gesture to define the genre of Iranian Cinema that is in bed with France (of which Marjan Satrapi & Farahni are the "future hopes" now?) Irrespective of what the answer may be, none of this is related to Iran as much as it is related to how the French see/romanticize/theorize Iran.

Some Iranian intellectuals have gotten all excited that we are, by the evidence of an Iranian-Boob-on screen, one step closer to "westernization" and thus the inevitable liberation from our oriental limitations, shyness and gender hierachies that make us concede to patriarchic dictatorships! However, these 'progressive' views are disregarding that the female body, in the liberal democracies, more than being the site of politics, is the sight of economics. If anything, the "democratization" of female body has generated women who are suffering all sorts of stress-related disorders because they are forced to compete on equal grounds with men, while being fulltime women as well. The Iranian intellectuals, many of which are ardent women-right activists write florally about the flower (Gol) of the Sifteh (enchanted), generating a "political" role model from a cinematic BEAUTY, in a society whose women are increasingly vain (If you don't believe me watch an interesting documentary by Mehrdad Oskoui, Nose, Iranian Style, illustrating the cultural vanity of a generation whose young men and women subject themselves to expensive and painful plastic surgery in order to get "western" noses.) I wish these intellectuals, instead of taking pride and identifying themselves with Farahani, took their own shirts off, before a normal lens, and a non-professional, and allowed their bodies speak with all their perfections and imperfections, sending clear messages, like the Ghoratoleyn of Persia, or Aalia of Egypt, and not the Marianne of France, giving an image to their imagination, thanks to the vision of French Cinema.

A POLITICAL act by an actor (one drawing attention to a cause) could take the form of:
- taking clothes off to protest war, and explicitly saying so
- taking clothes off to protest Iranian regime preventing the imprisoned lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh see her family because she refused to wear the prison's coverall veil, and explicitly saying so
- taking clothes off to protest the lashing of the women who are in line to be stoned for adultery, and explicitly saying so
- taking off clothes and staring to the camera and addressing, in PERSIAN, Iranian men who meddle in what their women wear
- taking off clothes and instead of hiding behind the 'cause' of "breaking taboos", stare directly into a Journalist's camera and saying: THIS IS MY BODY, and I have the right to sell it as an actor, as a surrogate mother, as a prostitute, as someone who nourishes dreams and desires. It is none of anyone's concern what a woman or man does to her/his body. (Now that WILL break several taboos simultaneously... a revolutionary act that would deserve respect.)

I still don't know what taboo Farahani has broken. What is so special about an Iranian-boob showing off to a French cinema? It is not like she has shown off her breasts in a Paris-produced film by Makhmalbaf or Kiarostami. It is not like she has acted in the role of an Iranian woman in a story told by a master narrator like Farhadi. There is NOTHING Iranian in the video Revelation, other than the passport and the genetic pool of the actress.

Ms Farahani has not exhibited ANY political wisdom ... she has been an actor, just a simple actor, not even taking a risk, au contraire taking the safe and logical step towards her career development. The RISK would have been to shoot these photos on her own, independent of the French-Cinema institutions ... She is just an actress, not a political leader--until she starts running for some kind of Iranian office/vote. And this is her personal business to appear before any camera she wants, it is not my national one.

United for Peace: meet the Iranian faces of America

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Staged 'activism' of Golshifteh Farahani or Media Opportunism of the 'spontaneous generation'?

Golshifteh Farahani, the 29 year old Iranian actress has appeared (together with 31 other young actors) before the camera of the fashion photographer and video artist Jean-Baptiste Mondino.

- A photo series called Espoirs 2012, Génération Spontanée that was published in Le Figaro's Madam section, featuring 7 of these actors (including Golshifteh Farahani) [post-script: her picture was removed within hours].

- A "propaganda/publicity" video, called "Revelation 2012, Corps et Ames. On the surface, the video pretends to destigmatize the images of body, across cultures and borders. Actors are mostly French (judged by names) and there are a handful of Middle Easterners. They all speak French on camera, except Golshifteh, whose voice is edited over her picture while dropping her shirt exposing her right breast.

The on-camera lines (and Farhani's voiceover) of Mondino's video 'promote' freedom of body and soul, in nudity, in unity with oneself, decidedly entering chaos and controversy, to exercise a right ... but the main objective of this advertisement is to introduce the acting "hopes" of the French Cinema in 2012, a point that is also made explicitly on the video.

Revelation 2012 is NOT a political video (although all video-ads are guided by the cinematic rules of propaganda that provides them a political potential as well). However, many Iranians have jumped to praise or chastise Golshifteh for the suggested politics of this ad (which is riding the waves generated by the 'post-Alia breastologists'!).

As all things Iranian, it takes only a few "Persian genes" to make any individual's act into a political one. As such, the nude presence of Golshifteh Frahani has been pulled out of its proper context and turned into a sociopolitical cause for cyber-uproar (and anti-uproar, by those who are drawing attention to the increasing pressure from the regime on activists and researchers in the wake of the parliametry election in Iran).

The sexually oppressed and depressed Iranian community is jumping on their pontification horses as I am writing:

- some are praising the "innocence" of this "courageous" representative of "Iranian women" in contrast to the 'dirtiness' of those who observe the Islamic Hijab
- some are raving about her taboo-breaking exercise
- some are in awe of her controversial bravery and, like spectators of a bull fight, are betting over some Islamic fundamentalist outrage
- some are scolding her tarnishing the image of the Iranian Woman (who is supposedly modest and mysterious and asexual)
- some are making jokes and parodies and predicting some of Iran's fundamentalist filmmakers will soon appear naked on a publicity video
- some are discussing the aesthetics and are drooling over the fact that a famous photographer has depicted her, HENCE, they claim, this must be a Michelangelian work of art!
- some are loathing her opportunism, and calling her act "business as usual in the show industry"
- some are silently WORRIED about the Iranian Cinema and concerned (and angry) about the ramifications of this publicity stunt for the independent filmmakers of Iran.

I fall in the last two categories. In what follows, I will explain why I am disappointed with her 'choice'; and next I explain why I do not consider her act one out of political conscience.

Golshifteh Frahani is a beautiful girl. She embodies the "classical" Persian beauty; and as such she owes her opportunities to her God-given gift of beauty more than to her talent as an actor, singer, or artist (even when she sings, she sounds mediocre to me). Of course, to have come from a family of theater/cinema artists (France-educated father, mother and sister) and to have been set in the path of learning music since early age, helps anyone in the show business.

Her first screen-break came with (cinema master) Mehrjui's 'The Pear Tree'. In this film, the 15 year old Golshifteh plays the role of a teenager tomboy, who appears in the memory flashbacks of a middle aged man who has returned from abroad to revisit his family and his past.

Somehow, this image of slightly "dreamy" tomboy beautiful young girl is a formula for success in Iranian cinema (it is a projection of liberty and equality which Iranian girls seek in the society) and Golshifteh has had her share of luck by embodying this image by appearing in several notable films.

The reason why I am frustrated by the controversy over her pseudo-nude picture comes from tracing her active attention-seeking traits in the past few year.

One of the (internationally) notable films of Farahani is "About Elly (2009)" by the 2012-Golden Globe winner of the best foreign film (A Separation), Asghar Farhadi. "About Elly" is a psychological thriller about a group of friends on a weekend retreat in the Northern coast of Iran. The film was a narrative breakthrough in the Iranian Cinema, as it departed from the political/poetic neorealist Iranian genre. About Elly put Farhadi on the radar of international cinephiles. The film won him the Silver Bear of the Berlin Film Festival for best director and was lauded at NYC's Tribeca. However, because of Miss Farahani, the Iranian regime banned the film from appearing in Iran's 27th Fajr Film Festival--a festival that despite all political skepticism can launch a director's national career, or at least help their film producers recuperate their investment in the local box office.

The reason for banning About Elly was that the lead actress, Golshifteh Farahani, was contracted by Hollywood to appear against Leonardo diCaprio in the Body of Lies. To join Hollywood is a deliberate affront to the Islamic Regime's ministry of guidance, and a guarantee that the actor or actress will lose all legitimacy in the face of the Iranian censors. For her 'disobedience', About Elly was also to be punished (a decision that was later reversed and gained Farhadi sweeping success in the Fajr Festival), Farahani's passport was confiscated (mainly to prevent her from appearing n another blockbuster, Prince of Persia). Banning About Elly and preventing Farahani from leaving Iran gave the young actress sufficient publicity to launch her asylum-case and acting career abroad. Soon, the controversies about her travel ban died out and she emerged in Hollywood as an artist in exile!

That Farahani's new (read nude) "fame" coincides with Farhadi's Golden Globe victory is ironic! It is ironic because the Iranian cinema community were hoping that the international fame of Farhadi will put pressure on the Iranian regime to lift sanctions and pressure they have recently imposed on Iranian cinematographer (e.g. by closing the House of Cinema--a case about which Farhadi has publicly spoken). This hope, is now vanished, thanks to the lovely French whose progressivism, be it Foucault or Figaro, don't seem to leave us Iranians alone!

The reason why I focus on the case of Farhadi/Farahani is that in this age of "media persuasion" is it critically important to be aware of how different media-devices interact with each other. If contextualized as such, then acts and images of actors extend beyond the private realm and become political. Once things become political, time is of the primary essence. It is the 'timing' of Farahani's nudity vis a vis Farhadi's Hollywood success that frustrates me. [Note that Farhadi's been successful in the eyes of the world even before Hollywood nodded at him, he IS a good filmmaker, with or without Hollywood paying attention.]. Farahani's breasts have stolen the spotlight from A Separation! [post-script: until some White House official congratulated Farhadi for getting short-listed for an Oscar nomination!! What the hell do politicians have to do with artistic cinema of Iran TOTALLY baffles me!]

The other (and related) point to pay attention to is that Golshifteh Farahani's act is NOT a political one by her design or 'activist' wisdom. In such publicity affairs, it is more likely that Farahani is "selected" or "promoted by her managers" to appear in a video for Cesar et Chaumet (the French equivalent of Oscar's). What Iranians who are jumping the 'intellectual and feminist' horses need to know is that she has not initiated the video, she has not directed it, she has not written the script. She is just one eye-candy out of 31; selected by the merits of her beautiful face, her public presence in internationally released films such as Body of Lies and Poulet Aux Prunes and her exotic 'foreignness' that considering the content of the video promises the French Cinema in 2012 to be provocative, agitating Islamic sensitivities (tied to an actress who is banished by the IRI for showing her hair).

If I were a cineast, I would be dumb to not take advantage of Golshifteh in this age of cinematic Iranophilia. (A recent example is a new book The Directory of World Cienma: Iran, which has the picture of Farahani on the cover--without her meriting a significant place in the Iranian Cinema.) It seems, someone has done a market research, has looked at the hit-statistics on internet and has come to a conclusion that Farahani's image gets attention and sells!

Within this context, if I were Farahani, I should have exercised a LOT of restraint, and POLITICAL AWARENESS to have said NO to such a lucrative offer. She was given a golden opportunity, and she took it without the slightest concern about the ramifications of her decision for the Iranian Cinema, INSIDE Iran. She didn't have to. We don't live our lives for others. But I try to explain why she SHOULD have given a damn!

A few months ago, several Iranian female actors wrote an angry open letter in response to one of those ugly (anti)cultural official filmmakers (Farajollah Salahshoor) who had said: The Iranian cinema is full of female whores, we don't need to recruit Angelina Jollie to be profitable. Clearly, the image of women on screen, which has been a major player in forming the post-patriarchic psychology of the Iranian society is under assault these days. The choice of Golshifteh to appear nude with certainly be fanning the flames of censorship in Iran. It will inevitably BURN many a female figures on the silver screen.

You might say that the Iranian regime is a worthless entity that must be challenged and toppled. The problem, however, is that it is not only the draconiamn Iranian regime (who is going ahead with execution a Canadian Iranian man on allegations of having set up a porno website) that has an issue with a nude Iranian on screen. Unfortunately, many Iranians, even opponents of the IRI, are sexually uptight and consider a nude female a cultural affront to the figure of Persian Women who is supposedly 'pious' and 'pure'.

Funnily, MANY people who were trying to 'defend' Farahani's choice were drawing attention to her 'innocent and pure eyes' [as opposed to her 'dirty' breasts ?!?]. What made it funny was that these people were willfully overlooking the sensual gaze of Farahani and the deeply enunciated voiceover: "I embody your dreams", which puts to rest any doubt that she (and the French cinema industry] IS (and will be) cashing on her sex-appeal. Such comments from Iranians, even the proponents of Farahani's choice and the Anti-regime folks, reflect how uncomfortable Iranians are with any sexual discourse.

Now in such anti-cinematic political environment inside Iran and within the realm of Iran's sexual psychology, taking a shirt off on a video will inevitably generate a political discourse that will hit the cinema without making a dent in the century's old national psychology. Whether Farhani's right breast is a good thing for the future of female-emancipation (assuming Iranian women need such emancipation) is debatable (but this is not where I want to debate it). However, many Iranian cinephiles are holding their breath awaiting the damage that this act of Farahani will exact on the already fragile body of Iranian Cinema.

I belong to this group of concerned cinema lovers who think this choice was a self-serving practice that lacked collective conscience. Although, as a woman, I respect the rights of anyone who wish to be nude at whatever level of sexual or sensual exhibitionism. I do not believe in 'purity' of anti-sexualism.

If Farahani issues a statement that she has appeared before the camera as an individual WITHOUT claiming any national-ambassadorship or political agenda, I will respect her. But, in a connected world, as a member of a film-family, as someone who owes her fame and fortune to this resilient and beautiful family that the Iranian Cinema community is, she has done something highly undemocratic and self-serving, without discussing or putting to vote her intentions.

Part of democratic exercise is that we move collectively, for common political goals. I consider her choice a deviation from that principle, and as such I would personally cast her aside from the Iranian Cinema community.

It is ironic, in the few films that I have seen of her, she is playing the role of a slightly 'off', impressionable yet stubborn little kid who falls in circumstantial trouble, following an 'impulse' or in reaction to some form of pressure. It is perhaps not a coincidence that Le Figaro publishes her photo among a series of "Generation Spontanee" ... I consider her act a spontaneously impulsive case of opportunism, and a reactionary one as far as political readings are concerned.

P.S. In a facebook note, someone noted that it is only Golshifteh who exposes her breast, and that even when 'utilized' as a provocative prop by the french photographer, se is treated with the 'tender' discrimination extended to the "exotic" other ... what a SHARP observation.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Raising death toll: the nuclear physicist victims

Today, another physicist is blasted up, by a magnetic car bomb.

This makes the number of science victims to 5. Here's a list, in chronological order.

  1. Wednesday 11 Jan 2012, car bomb kills Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, 32, and the director for commecial affairs at the Natanz enrichment facility. According to Huffington post, yesterday, Israeli military chief Gen Benny Gantz was quoted saying to a parliamentry panel that "2012 would be a "critical year" for Iran – in part because of "things that happen to it unnaturally."
  2. 24 July 2011, biker assassins gunned down Dariush Rezai, 35, and injured his wife. Confusion remains whether the target of the killing was the 35 years old PhD candidate, or the 46 year old professor; Haaretz reports.
  3. Jan 12 2010, car bomb kills Masoud AliMohammadi, 50, A senior Physics professor; apparently an opponent of the government. Controversies over the Mossad link remain unresolved.
  4. 29 Nov 2010, car bomb kills Majid Shahriari (Accoridng to Huffington Post and NYT, this attack came a day after the release of internal U.S. State Department memos by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, including several that vividly detail Arab fears over Iran's nuclear program. A concurrent attempt on the life of Fereydoon Abbasi was unsuccessful.
  5. 15 Jan 2007, Ardeshir Hosseinpour, nuclear scientist dies from suspicious gas poisoning

I find it interesting that three of thse assassinations have happened in 15, 12 and 11th of January.

The latest attack (Jan 2012) comes five days after Iran officially announced intention to resume negotiations with the group of 6 over its nuclear program.