Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Iranian Letters to FriendFeed

If you've been wondering why I haven't blogged so much lately, it has only partially been because I have been very busy. The whole truth is that blogs are outdated, and I've been spending my spare net-time on Friendfeed, where I almost exclusively converse in Persian, and that alone has been really great.

Without warning today, Friendfeed decided to switch over to its beta version, and all of us who were online collectively freaked out. The well-known blogger sibil tala volunteered to write sample notes of complaint for the Persian speakers who wanted to give Friendfeed comments on the new website but didn't have the English skills to do so. But at one moment, she started to write sample letters for specific groups and individuals, and so the letters turned into hilarious and brilliant satiric comments on contemporary Iranian culture.

With her permission, I am copying and pasting her letters below. You need to know a little bit about contemporary Iranian culture, language, and politics to get all of what she says, but I hope there is something here for everyone to enjoy:

1. Sample Message:

Dear ferfer (that is what we call you in Persian). My father came door (it is a Persian slang with much negative connotation) with this new version, please change it to classic version or I will make your father come (door)!

2. Sample Message for Hezbollahi users:

In the name of God. It was the will of God that I found your site and I have been using it as digital tool to do good for the world. The new design has made my life very difficult and I cannot engage in my duties as a Muslim! Out of respect for my religious duties, I respectfully ask you to change it! May God help you.


3. Sample Message for Modernist Akhoonds (my note: the Akhoonds are the clergy, or as Americans/Euro call them, the Muuuuuuuuuuulahs)

We have this exact design in Islam too. We have made it more Islamic but I just wanted to bring the Islamic elements of this design to everyone's attention and thank ferfer. There is only a slight problem and that is in Islam we allow for multiplicity and it would be good to have the classic option too.

3. Sample Message for Gherti users(my note: the ghertis are the trendy/preppy/hipster users):

Hi, my name is Kambiz and I am from Persia the land of Cyrus the great and the birthplace of democracy. I am writing to you in the name of Zoroaster and asking you to take a vote and see if in the spirit of referendum, users prefer the old version of Friendfeed or not! Long live free Persia!


4. Sample Message for 101 Feminists (my note: these are the "feminists" who live outside Iran and usually can't put two words of Persian together):

Hi my name is Melodia Ghanbarzadeh and I am a women's right activist from Iran. The old site was very helpful for those poor, uneducated, very religious and slightly retarded women that Lily and I were trying to save. Can you please bring it back or Islamic fundamentalism will make us all become temporary wives!

5. Sample Message for Fakhravar (my note: Fakhravar is the "student leader" who is well known to readers of this blog)

In the name of the people of Iran. For month Mullahs torture I. They put stone and hot them in my arse. They put my head in white towel and white room. I have survived all that to bring you the maasaage of love and peace and you are even more too much tourchuring me with this new design? Long live free Iran. we love you AAmrica and Israel.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

What does the Persian Gulf Have to Do With Israel?

The issue of the name of the Persian Gulf is a sensitive one for Iranians, and so it may not be a surprise that NIAC took a step to publicly comment on a testimony in the US Senate during which the term Arabian Gulf was used to describe that body of the water.

However, what is striking is that in raising its concern, NIAC identified the usage of the term as a politically divisive one used "to create divisions in the region against non-Arab entities, particularly Iran and Israel."

Why would the naming of the Persian Gulf, a body of water that is no where near Israel, be a matter of concern to Israel? More importantly, why would the concerns of Israel be an issue for the National Iranian American Council?

Finally, the naming of the Persian Gulf as Arabian may be divisive, but it is also divisive to treat both Iran and Israel as though they have no Arab populations themselves. Iran has over 2 million Arabs and Israel has approximately 1 million Arab citizens who are Palestinian and hundreds of thousands of Arab Jews.

NIAC should seriously reconsider its approach to issues of importance to its Iranian constituency. As it is, NIAC is being as divisive as the terms it is critiquing, and it is also causing confusion for the consistent consideration and priority it gives to Israel's needs and concerns.