Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Name Game

A few years ago a friend of mine (who runs one of the most popular Iranian websites, by the way), cheerfully asked me: "you know what they say about Mohammad Khatami?". I knew a lot of things they say about him, but I shrugged my shoulders, "no, what do they say about Mohammad Khatami?". "well", he responded, "they read signs in his name: mohammad Khatami, Khatami is derived from Khatm (the end), so it will be the end of Mohammad in Iran!", i.e. the end of Islam in Iran, meaning the end of the IRI.

With that kind of analysis, i had to tease him: "what is this, the newest california method for forseeing the future? What's it called, name-ology?". This time he shrugged, and we went on talking of other things, like gossip about regular contributors to his site.

Now that Mohammad's end is indeed nearing, with Ahmadinejhad scheduled to be sworn in as the new president of Iran in a mere days, i thought it would be fun to apply the science of nameology to our new leader.

Okay, here we go:

Full name:
Mahmoud Ahmadi-nejhad

First name:
Mahmoud (a name related to Mohammad)

Last Name:
Ahmadi (a name also related to Mohammad)
Nejhad (race, in this case meaning "of the race of" or "of the lineage of)

Anybody want to make predictions about our future based on this breakdown?

Let's make our jokes while we can, because i'm pretty sure our days are numbered.

In other news about our president elect, the CIA announced that Ahmadinejhad is not the man pictured in the embassy hostage taking photo. It turns out that the two men below are not the same afterall:

So it took the CIA, which is supposedly one of the world's top intelligence agencies, more than a month to figure out something that anyone with two working eyes could recognize in mere seconds. This is almost as embarrassing as their claims about the WMD in Iraq!

I thought the conventional widsom was that the CIA is where the real intelligence happens, and the dummies are only in the FBI? It may be time to reconsider the stereotype.

Note: Source of above photo is the Brooding Persian

Monday, July 25, 2005

Jerusalem is Ours

First it was Ronaldo visiting the occupied territories draped in Keffiyas with maps of Palestine. Now Ricky Martin comes along, this time with a Keffiya Shawl that not only has a map of Palestine, but has a logo that says "Al-Qodso Lana" (Jersualem is Ours).

You can be sure quite a few people will be frothing at the mouth when they see these images.

My mother happens to think that Ricky Martin is just the cutest boy that ever lived. I'm thinking of joining her Ricky Martin Fan Club.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

One of my maternal great-grandmothers, the one they called Khamajee, gave birth to 14 children.

She outlived 10 of them.

When one of her boys was 8 or 9 years old, he came in from playing outside and annouced to his mother: "Khamajee, man mordam" ("Khamajee, I died."). Then he did just that: he collapsed and died on the spot.

But Khamajee survived that and the death of nine other of her children. She even lived to see the birth of one of her great-grand children (me!). If it weren't for the car accident that killed her, she probably would have seen more of us. Her youngest son was driving when the accident happened. He has never gotten over it.

I don't have any personal memories of her, but I'm glad our life-times overlapped.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Thanks to a link in Sibestaan , I found out that Iran has a notable population of Sabaeen Mandeans. I always thought that Iraq was the only place where the Sabaeen could be found, so it was quite a surprise.

Anyway, the above photo was taken from the photo page of Hasan Sarbakhsian , and the rest of his pictures, along with some summary information about the Sabaeen Mandeans, can be found here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Camel Jockey

Aside from the fetishized veil, the camel is perhaps the most over-used trope in representations of West Asia and North Africa.

Mind you, the first time i saw a real live camel was while i was visiting a zoo in a "western" country. Nonetheless, the camel and his accoutrements, most notably the camel jockey, persist as a metaphor for our supposed backwardness, our barrenness, and our stubborn resistance to change.

In Qatar and other Persian Gulf states, the've taken to using robots--which are light-weight and easy to control (unlike their human counterparts)--in Camel Races. So we have the Robot, the longstanding sign of the future and technological progress, sitting on top of a camel, this symbol of dust and stupor that is supposed to represent us so well to the western world.

What do you think images like the above do to the fossilized brains of neo-orientalists and culture-vultures? Perhaps the discordant juxtaposition of the signs robot=progress/"the West" and Camel=pre-modern/"the rest" will nudge in them something resembling a brain-wave.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Politics of Pity

A couple of years ago i went through a brief phase where i was reading everything by the iranian writer Monirou Ravanipour that i could get my hands on. i had a really unsophisticated reason for liking her: namely that her stories were weird and that i didn't quite understand them. and that was enough to peak my interest for some time.

Today, i found out that she blogs. Sadly, i only discovered her site upon reading that she had written a post where she mentions her friendship with Nazy Mozakka, an Iranian woman who was one of the victims of the London bombings.

I haven't been able to find much online about Nazy Mozakka, just that she was in her late forties and a mother of two.

And I've found even less about Shahab Mansouri, the Iranian beheaded in Iraq less than a couple of weeks ago.

If Shahab Mansouri were a kidnapped U.S. or European citizen (read: if he were white), we would have known his life story by now. If he were a U.S./Euro contractor or some kind of mercenary security guard, we would have been also been told about how he had gone to "rebuild the new iraq", "to reconstruct schools", to "protect the free iraq", or some such drivel. If he were a U.S./Euro NGO worker or activist, we would be reminded of his "self-lessness", his "love for the Iraqi children", his "courage and commitment".

But as it turns out, Shahab Mansouri was an Iranian. A bearded one at that.

When I saw the video his kidnappers released when they had captured him, i cried. then i got mad at myself for being a pawn of nationalism. why, after all, did i feel a passing pity for every other kidnapped victim in iraq but then when it came to someone who looked like me and spoke like me, why was i shaken to the core?

i don't know. this nationalism thing is a problem between me and myself. it takes a long time to disembed yourself from intoxicating ideologies.

But i suppose in this case it made me have empathy for Shahab Mansouri, someone who is apparently not worthy of mention, much less sympathy.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Ganji is Dying

As expected, just about everywhere you look in the Iranian blogosphere, people are very concerned about Akbar Ganji's well-being, and it would be remiss of me if I didn't publicly express my soldiarity with him. The political prisoner Ganji has been on hunger strike for over 35 days now, and despite calls from human rights organizations and interventions by public authorities including Khatami himself, but nothing seems to have come out of it.

Bush and other members of his gang (Senators Brownback and Santorum, for example)have been trying to hijack the aspirations of those Iranians who are trying to change things without the tanks and bombs of moralizing invaders. I heard that some bloggers have put a call out for people to try and get op-eds into their local papers about Ganji. I don't quite understand the point of this course of action, especially since there are more than enough vultures out there who want to feed off of any crisis in Iranian society.

Not that we should just quit our demands because warmongers can use it to their advantage, we just need to be ultra-careful in what we put out in the U.S. public sphere. Unless we want another Iraq-style liberation, any time we speak our concerns about Iran, we must always add that we are unequivocally against any aggressive foreign intervention. I know, it will get boring, tedious, predictable. But what's the choice? Let them deflate and kill every organic movement that originates inside of Iran?

The life of Akbar Ganjii is at stake. So is the future of all who want change byIranians for Iranians.

They stole our dreams in 1953, 1979, 1980, 1997, 1999, 2003, let's not let them do it again.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Comments Back!

Ra'ed and Sima both suggested that Haloscan may solve the previously noted comments woes I was having. The side-effect, unfortunately, is that I seem to have lost all previous comments. Perhaps there is a way to recover them, but I can't get to it now. Anyway, even though the comments section was closed for only one day, it was annoying to have to take recourse to doing so. But it looks like this problem may be solved.

Thanks to those of you who sent me supportive emails.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Freedom from Hate-Speech

I am temporarily closing the comments section as a result of its misuse by a single individual by the name of Jeffrey Schuster.

As my readers know, I don't have a problem with critiques of what I say, and in fact I often engage directly in the comments section with those who rabidly disagree with me. However, on a blog such as mine, which does not have many readers and even fewer commentators, a single person who never engages with the content of the posts and instead uses the space for abusive purposes can effectively shut-out all others who wish to use the comment section for debate and discussion.

Jeffrey Schuster displays classic signs of stalking behavior, and it is such behaviour patterns coupled with his relentless racist rages that have prompted me to temporarily close this comments section. Examples of Jeffrey Schuster's racist attacks, particularly against Muslims and Middle Easterners in general are available to anyone who can do a google search. This unabashed racism would be unremarkeable in itself were it not for the fact that Jeffrey Schuster also holds a job in the U.S. as an ESL instructor where he holds a position of authority over the same populations he regularly demeans and berates.

In any case, due to some personal hardships that we are experiencing at the time, I am unable to moniter the comments section to make sure that it remains free from those who wish to silence all other voices save their own.

I promise to re-open the comments sections as soon as I can return to being an active participant in this blog.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Long Beards

The US military announced today that 4 prisoners escaped from the Bagram Base Detention Center in Afghanistan. So naturally, a big man hunt is underway to try and recapture the escapees. Meanwhile, they've put out the word so people can spot the escaped prisoners. Now pay close attention to the official announcement on what to keep an eye out for: men with short hair and long beards.

Short hair and long beards?! Doesn't this description make pretty much the entire adult male population of Afghanistan suspect?

Then again, "long beards" more or less constitutes the criteria used to stuff people into Guantanamo and Bagram bases in the first place, now wasn't it?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Some Links

1) Fisk Awakes from Coma

"Just before the US presidential elections, Bin Laden asked: "Why do we not attack Sweden?"

Lucky Sweden. No Osama bin Laden there. And no Tony Blair"

Ever since Robert Fisk started sharing details about things like dining as a private guest in Waleed Jumblatt's Druze castle and Rafiq Hariri's generous offers of flying Fisk on one of his private jets, I sort of lost interest in what he had to say, particularly when it came to Lebanon.

But I do recommend his article entitled "The Reality of this Barbaric Bombing", from which the above quote was taken. Maybe Fisk is finally emerging from the intoxication of hanging out with the rich and powerful to once again do the kind of reporting and commentary for which many of us respect him.

2) Threatened in the BBC!?

A young Afghan blogger who writes in Persian and English has accused a BBC reporter of harassing and threatening him. For its part, the BBC seems to be taking the accusation seriously, and has promised to look into the matter. If you want to read an interview with the blogger about the situation, you can do so here.

3) Cyrus the Not-so-Great

When I blogged about the disappearance of Iranian camera-man Farhad Faraji at the hands of the US military in Iraq, I didn't know that he had been accompanied by an Iranian-American film-maker named Cyrus Kar.

This Kar fellow, one of a familiar breed of people of Iranian descent who like to pretend that the end-all be-all of Iranian history and identity is found in the "Glorious Persian Empire", was a big advocate of the war against Iraq. He was also a former Navy seal who hangs U.S. flag over his bed and was, according to his sister, "ashamed of being Iranian".

Apparently these facts made an impression on the military, since they have announced that Kar (and along with him, Farjami) will be released from U.S. custody in Iraq.

Perhaps this whole episode of being held without charge and having his rights violated for nearly two months in custody will make Mr. Kar think twice about the kind of democracy he advocates should be brought to other places with bombs and tanks. Then again, seeing as to how his pro-war, self-hating attitude seems to have been instrumental in getting him released, perhaps he will get only worse.

4) Iranian Immigrant

For those Iranians living in the U.S., the U.K., or pretty much anywhere in Europe, you may want to start doing your shopping here.

The Passing of 18th of Tir

18 Tir just passed.

i was going to blog about it somewhat at length, but i didn't. apparently neither did anybody else. Well, no, Shabah wrote a post entitled "Emrooz 18 Tir Ast" (Today is the 18 of Tir). frankly i didn't read it, and i don't think i will either. Penlog also issued a brief statement, citing the same three student political prisoners whose names are thrown around this time of year.

Someone should tell Penlog and others like them that there are more political prisoners than the handful of names we are all familiar with. Just because we may not find their political views particularly savory or easy to co-opt doesn't mean they should be left name-less and face-less, rotting away god knows where.

Secondly, those who drafted the Penlog statement should be made aware that according to the most recent news, one of the named prisoners, Ahmad Batebi, hasn't returned to prison since he was let out sometime ago to get married. You can read about this here and also get an earful of Batebi's completely untenable, and ultimately just sadly stupid and shallow, analysis on the first phase of the Iranian elections.

Well, the anniversary has passed/is the past.

the question is: who killed the 18th of Tir?

i have my suspicions, but no use beating a dead horse, not this late at night anyway.