Friday, May 26, 2006

Apologies

1. The Canada National Post, has issued an apology for running the false story that Iran was considering legislation forcing Jews and Christians to wear identifying badges:

"It is now clear the story is not true," National Post editor-in-chief Douglas Kelly wrote in a long editorial on page 2. "We apologize for the mistake and for the consternation it has caused not just National Post readers, but the broader public who read the story."


Does this mean that Amir Taheri, the Iran "expert" who was the source for the story and who stuck to his guns despite being proven a liar, will be out of a job?

2. This one is not so much about an apology, more like making an excuse, but it is noteworthy nonetheless. The U.S. Armed forces has found itself in possession of a few more "bad apples" (yet again!): this time, marines are under investigation for two incidents of murdering innocent iraqi men, women, and children. So a top marine general, Gen. Michael Hagee, has flown to Iraq to give the boys a pep talk, and he also issued a statement which said in part:
"Many of our Marines have been involved in life-or-death combat or have witnessed the loss of their fellow Marines, and the effects of these events can be numbing."

In other words: Please excuse our marines for all that needless killing, it's just that they are really stressed out from all that needless killing. I guess that is the closest thing to an apology that one can expect from a marine general, so I suppose it is better than the usual denials.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Show Your Face

Though I can't speak German and so cannot read the specifics of their mission statement, I am still fond of Gesicht Zeigen.

Gesicht Zeigen, which means "Show Your Face", is an anti-racist group run by Uwe-Karsten Heye, who was the chief spokesman for Gerhard Shroeder's government. Heye raised alarm bells last week, when he warned World Cup visitors to avoid certain parts of Germany where they may be targets of racist acts.

I am sure I will blog more about such racial tensions and the World Cup in general as the games start, but for now I wanted to say that I'll be taking up the "show your face" mantra, and the sentiment that I presume is behind it.

Here is what I ask of those who use the Net to leave racist comments, circulate rumours, and call anyone who challenges false propaganda an "agent for the regime":

Show Your Face!

If you are so proud of your racist beliefs, then why hide behind anonynomous comments? And if you are so sure that certain individuals are agents for a foreign government, then why don't you leave your full name and full contact information?

I am sure that the FBI and CIA would very much like to speak to you, as would the lawyers of those whom are routinely accused.

Well, Do ya feel lucky, punk? If so go ahead, make my day. And don't forget to leave your full contact information.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Holding the Liars Accountable- Contact information

As an addendum to my previous post, I wanted to leave for you the contact information of the Canada National Post. Please call them to ask that they publish a retraction and an apology. The number is Toll Free from North America, but they will be closed until Tuesday (Monday is some holiday in Canada). They may think we wil forget all about this over the three days, but they dont know that Iranians hold a grudge! If we are still mad about the invasions of the Arabs and the Mogols from over a thousand years ago, a few days aint gonna do much to soften our anger. hahah.

Here then is some contact information for the Canada National Post and related offices:

National Post phone numbers:

Toll free customer service 1-800-668-7678
Newsroom number (416) 383-2300
Email them from this link
send letters to the editor from this link
And here is their "news tips" line: (416) 386-2600 (I know I have a tip or two for them, how about you?)

You can also Email Canada.com, the online netword through which the National Post publishes its online magazine: feedback@canada.com

I have also found an email for Amir Taheri, a source and propagator of the false story. Don't know if this is an email he still uses or not, but it may be worth a try: amirtaheri@benadorassociates.com

False Story about Iranian Religious Minorities

This is old news by now, and tons of Persian-language blogs have already said much about it. But I don't think that many English language Iranian blogs have taken up the issue, so it may be worth it to cover the ground once again, and here we go:

In case you didn't figure it out as soon as you read the headline, the story being circulated with the title "Iran eyes badges for Jews and Christians" is false.

The article, originally published in the Canadian National post was available via Canada.com at this url, which as you will see now contains a blank page. Apparently they got called on their lies and decided to disappear the story, but we're not going to let them off the hook that easily, right?. Nor are we going to forget the Iranian bloggers who continue to reproduce this false story knowing full well that it has no basis in fact. The damage these propagandists do to themselves makes things a lot easier. ((By the way, The right wing Gossip site Drudgereport.com published the story as it's headline, but I've yet to see a clarification).

Oh, and speaking of lying propagandists, it turns out that the source of this false story was most likely none other than one Amir Taheri, who has authored numerous similarly (in)credible articles published on various right-wing sites. The same day that the false article was published, the Canadian National Post included this article, in which he made claims that are quite similar to the ones that reappear in the above noted story.

In case anyone is interested in what the draft law concerning the dress code actually says, Mehdi of Zharf has produced a quick summary translation here (you have to scroll down past the Persian text in the post to get to his translation). You may also want to check out Alireza Doostdar's piece, published on Juan Cole's blog wherein he argues that the draft law should also be considered in light of issues of cultural nationalism.

And finally a couple of telling facts about the Canadian National Post: It was founded by Conrad Black, who at one point owned the Jerusalem post; It is now owned by the media conglomerate CanWest Global communications, which has openly claimed in the past that We do not run in our newspaper Op Ed pieces that express criticism of Israel.

You see then what kind of individuals and institutions we are dealing with here?

I think we have a reponsibility to hold such people accountable, whether they be a blogger with a handful of readers, a professional who is well-paid for the production of misinformation, or an entire media empire dedicated to suppressing free speech and disseminating distorted "news" pieces.

I always say this, and I have the feeling that I will be repeating this for some time to come: The worst part about the spread of outright lies by such individuals and institutions is that they undermine the work of those who have legitimate critiques of the Iranian government, and who pursue change with honesty and integrity.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Shima Kalbasi has had the brilliant idea of taking legal action against U.S. consular offices (!!!!) for granting visas to those whom she calls "suporters of the regime" but for refusing a visa to her mom.

Since Ms. Kalbasi's idea was circulated on a private and restricted email list, I responded as follows. Please note that while I said I was fine with the email being passed along to her directly, i did not give her permission to make this exchange public. But since Ms. Kalbasi, in keeping with her consistent record of publicly maligning other Iranian women, has cast the first stone, I might as well set the record straight.

The following is the full text of my private email:

I want to make two points regarding Kalbasi's blog, and it is fine with me if these points are passed along to her directly:

1. I am not particularly fond of all of the people Kalbasi names in her blog and have in fact publicly spoken out about several of them. However, the familiar and often shallow accusation about individuals being "supporters of the regime" is particularly laughable in what she is bringing up. I dont know what Haghighatjoo is doing in her position as a visiting scholar in the U.S., but it is well known that both Sazegara and Atri have been actively involved in the production of the propaganda that is being used to promote a war on Iran. It was merely weeks ago that Atri was testifying before war-hawk Rick Santorum's committee in the senate about bringing about regime change in Iran.

2. Having said this, the U.S. knows very well that such people, far from supporting the regime, are perfectly in tune with the most hawkish and right-wing element of the U.S. regime. U.S intelligence may have had some collosal failures in recent years, but when it comes to the types who gain access to the upper ranks of congress, they know exactly who they are granting visas to.

As for "taking action against any U.S. office that is responsible for granting visa", I'm not sure what grounds Ms. Kalbasi thinks she has to work on. Does she want to appeal to the same senators who facilitate the visas of the atris and the sazegaras? Does she want them to change their visa policies all together? Does she have compelling evidence that the same people who have joined forces with the right-wing elements in U.S. politics are actually "supporters of the regime"?


If Ms. Kalbasi wants to publicly chastise other Iranian women and dismiss them for not "having a clue how this [U.S.] system works", I suggest that she:

A. Respect and engage in the rules of fair dialogue rather than using her blog as platform for trying to name and shame people.

B. Learn a little bit about U.S. immigration, lobbying, and the government in general. I will be happy to provide Ms. Kalbasi with any information she may need in her quest of suing the U.S. government for the decisions of their consulates.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Finally, Richard Perle is the one being intimidated and someone else is doing the intimidating!

For a short report of the above interaction, have a look at Raed's post here.

I have more to say on this later.

Friday, May 12, 2006

1. There is someone named Mani Turkzadeh who is flooding google video with Monarchist clips starring either "king" reza Pahlavi or his father, the deposed dicator Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Just put in "iran" as your search term and you'll see gems like this and this . the poor guy has like zero talent, and the quality of his "productions" is on the same level los angeles Iranian satellite shows. and like the satellite shows, there is something sadly hilarious about these video clips, so you may want to have a look if for no other reason than a sense of entertainment. In addition to these king-worshipping clips whose soundtracks remind us, among other things, that "the king is the shadow of god on earth", he has a whole bunch of other videos exalting the Iranians 7000 thousand years of Aryan civilisation and Aryan purity and this type of thing, which also usually feature the appearance of at least one of the Pahlavi kings and/or the unemployed Pahlavi.

2. Speaking of snakes, summi and i were forced to take a detour during our otherwise very pleasant walk because i spotted one slithering by on our path. i decided not to let my fear of snakes dissuade me from taking a walk today, but another one tumbled on to the sidewalk before i had even been walking for 3 minutes. needless to say, i turned around and nearly ran home. and so, instead of enjoying the beautiful weather and getting some excercise, I am using my break for blogging.

3. I dont why, but ever since I learned about the existence of the Encyclopedia Iranica, I always had a sense of unease about it. I may be wrong on this, but it seems to be based on and to ecourage oritentalist sensabiities. then again, maybe i am overly sensitive and need to take a closer look at the whole enterprise and its productions. What I do know, however, is that they are having fundraising event tomorrow in San Francisco. It is strictly black-tie, tickets are $500 minimum, and Shohreh Aghdashloo and Houshang Tozie are the guests of honour, so I mean, this doesn't help much by way of changing my attitude towards them as an institution. But anyway, i am keeping an open mind if anyone has information to sway me.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

1. Anyone know why Paolo Coelho is so popular in Iran? His books seem to be everywhere: as top sellers in the bookstores, in the home libraries of all kinds of readers, carried in the bags of commuters doing some casual reading on the bus or metro.

Even Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi seems to have the Coelho bug. When asked in this interview with Time Magazine, what book she was currently reading, she answered: Coelho's Zahir.

I've never read any Coelho, so the answer to my query could just be that he is a really great writer. could be. but there are lots of great writers. and not all of them are translated, published, distributed, and received to the same extent in Iran.

2. My mom told me about Putin's attack on the U.S. the other day, but it took me until just now to find a news story that mentions it. On the day of his Sate of the Nation Speech, the headlines in the English language press mentioned Putin's statements on the need for Russia to increase its birthrates. But no word on the fact that he had compared the U.S. to a wolf, or that he had mocked the U.S. deployment of freedomanddemocracy for its own ends. So here are some choice quotes, in case you missed them, taken from the online site of the St. Petersburg Times:

Where is all this pathos about protecting human rights and democracy when it comes to the need to pursue their own interests? Here, it seems, everything is allowed, there are no restrictions whatsoever...We are aware what is going on in the world..Comrade wolf knows whom to eat, he eats without listening, and heÂ’s clearly not going to listen to anyone.

Now I don't know about the claims of those who see in this the "spectre of the cold war", but i wouldn'tt mind if Russia and the U.S. started going at each other again, maybe it will distract the U.S. from attacking any new countries in our region.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Self-Appointed Leaders and the Warmongers who Believe Them

In the spring of 2003, when I first began research into what has turned into an essay i am now completing on the topic of the iranian student movement and the dangers presented by net-engendered modes of long-distance nationalism, i immediately identified one person as a dangerous charlaton and as a perfect case study of the terrible consequences that can arise when the unaccountability of the diaspora meets the unaccountability of the internet. this person, amir abbas fakhravar, is someone for whom I have expressed contempt in previous posts.

When Fakhravar was not busy posing for dramatic photos of himself or playing the star role in the documentaries of naive "investigative" journalists, Fakhravar would give extensive interviews to noted right-wing publications in which he advocated the use of military force against Iran.

I quote for you some selections from his interview with National Review On-line:

NRO: One argument we hear in the West against confronting Iran, whether through sanctions or through military action, is that doing so will make the regime more popular with the Iranian people and that it will actually strengthen the regime.

Fakhravar: Please don't ever say that the people of Iran are going to have resentment or anger in their hearts toward America or Western countries for doing this.


and how about this:

NRO: What do Iranians think of George W. Bush?

Fakhravar: The people of Iran, especially the youth, are so admiring of Bush and his administration for siding with the people of Iran rather than the government of Iran. No other leader of any government, even the Europeans, took this stand. All the youngsters support him and love him, and we want to express our deepest gratitude for him and his administration and what they are doing to liberate us


Did you get that folks? The people of Iran love george bush and want him to destroy their country? sound familiar?

oh, and hey i have a question: how does a guy who says he has spent so much of his time in the Iranian prisons manage to get so much open press coverage under the nose of the people who supposedly have been watching him day and night?

But who cares about any inconsistencies when you claim to speak for the youth of iran and support the neo-conservative agenda? As long as you say that the Iranians will welcome an attack on their homeland with cheers, then richard perl himself will come to meet you and arrange for you to speak in washington, dc.

Mark my words, if you thought Afshari and Atri's appearance before Rick Santorum's gang was shameful, wait until you see fakhravar deliver his performance.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

1. Not everyone who opposes sanctions on Iran does so on humanitarian or principled grounds which recognize the brutality and ineffectiveness of this form of collective punishment. Some seem to do so from pure economic self-interest, but i think we should take all the allies we can get. Have a look at their Iran Sanctions fact sheet for a breakdown of their core concerns.

2. Israeli "dove" Shimon Peres has made the not-so-veiled threat that "the president of Iran should remember that Iran can also be wiped off the map". And we should remember that Israel, unlike Iran, has the nuclear arsenal to make good on this threat. Now will the so-called world community rise in unison to condemn his remarks? Will they claim that this should be taken as an argument for why Iran needs nuclear weapons to defend herself?

3. I really have to update my links. Some blogs are defunct, some have been hacked, and there are a bunch of new sites that i now read but which aren't in my sidebar. but i'm also thinking that maybe it doesnt make sense to have all these things listed if i dont have blogrolling. so i guess i should either get a blogrolling service or get rid of the side bar all toghether? I don't know, maybe i will just go with whatever is easier, i just dont want to offend anyone if i end up getting rid of all the links.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

1. Yesterday Iranian authorities officially confirmed what activists have been mobilizing around for a couple of days now: scholar Ramin Jahanbegloo has been arrested and detained in Iran's Evin prison.

Many of us who are worried about his well-being are also concerned about the propagandist uses to which his arrest may be put. We are well aware of the vultures in waiting who are ready to tear us apart in the name of protecting our human rights.

And then there are few who dare to gloat in the arrest of Jahanbegloo. I came across the writing of one of these disgusting creatures just the other day. You know, the ones who accuse everyone of being an "agent of the regime". And what to do now when the "agents" are detained by the regime they have been accused of supporting? well, continue the character assassination, it seems.

If the IRI were to fall tomorrow, I wonder what would become of these types? Where would they get their sense of rightiousness? Their sense of identity? Their self-designated roles as the only truly radical activists on the face of the planet?

What exactly would they do with all the time on their hands?

My guess: they'd go back to selling over-priced Kabob dishes to the unsuspecting.

2. Man this Ahmadinejhad just can't contain himself. I have to admit, however, that I rather enjoyed his latest display of un-diplomatic behaviour:

When the Emir of Qatar was leaving Iran on his recent state visit, he wished the Iranian national soccer team good luck in the World Cup games. But he made the mistake of saying that the team's success would bring pride to the entire "Arabic Persian Gulf" region.

Ahmadinejhad's response: "I believe you called it the Persian Gulf when you studied in school".

Once the Emir had left, Ahmadinejhad went further to call him a "Western Lackey".

And, well, I'd have to say our little president was right on both accounts.

3. The most circulated slogan in Iran these days, "Nuclear Energy is Our Absolute Right", strikes me as being rather silly. I mean really, what one earth does it mean? Despite the many jokes about the slogan itself, however, the majority of the Iranian people appear steadfast in maintaining their right to develop nuclear energy capabilities. This CNN segment which I found via Iranian Truth, illustrates this point pretty well. Its strange to see Iranian pretty-boys loafing on the ski slopes and saying the exact words that come out of the mouths of prayer leader on any given friday.