Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Karroubi's (recent) letter

A few days ago Mehdi Karroubi wrote an (open?) letter to the Marjaiyat, the centres of emulations, in Qom. On freedom of religion or belief...

Mr. Karroubi explicitly refers to the attack on the Sufis in Qom. However, if one reads further, it is a broader encompassing text, where he appeals to the religious leaders in Qom to protect, in conformity with the lofty principles contained in Islam, the rights of all human beings – “even those who hold beliefs that we don’t agree with"
(دفاع از حقوق همه انسان‌ها حتی كسانی كه عقايد ايشان را نمی‌پسنديم)
... and hints to the fact that perhaps up to now they have rather supported those who only wear the garments of friendship.

For those who can read Persian, I recommend the whole article in Iranema.

Hmmm... probably more reason for some to feel that they have done the right thing in censoring his TV... I wonder how Iran would look like if he had come second in the first round of the elections...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

To google or not to google

I have been thinking about this for some days now, and yet, frankly, I couldn't be bothered with the thought of having to move my newly created blog to some other site, find a new name, work on the design, etc. Then also change my email address, and go where? to Yahoo, not a better choice!

Apathy on one side and a sense of helplessness on the other. The remaining dilema, however, is how can we move our advocacy for human rights beyond mere words. It reminds me of a leftist old lady who used to boycott South African oranges during Apartheid, and I remember asking myself whether this would have any effect beyond depriving her of her daily dosage of needed vitamin C.

I am still convinced that google does not need my blog or my email address, and yet, I feel I am letting the Chinese down, as if I forgot about Ganji or Soltani or let the Basiji beat-up some poor guy next door and turn away, because he was a little different, after all...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Holy Places

Samarra, sacred tombs of Imam Ali al-Hadi and Imam al-Hasan al-Askari:

Qom, Hoseynieh of the Sufis:

Bamiyan, Statues of the Buddha:

Shiraz, House of the Bab:

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Speaking in Brussels at the European Parliament yesterday, Manoochehr Mottaki at one point said: "Let politicians not enter the domain of clerics". This says it all doesn't it? Particularly coming from the Foreign Minister of a country where clerics reside in the domain of politicians.

The rest is all the same, self-contradicting rhetoric and soft-spoken distortions of reality. (I had written a long post but realized it was a sour re-hash of the press release...)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Human or nuclear rights

Amnesty released a report on Iran at mid-day yesterday. In the opening paragraph its press release stated: "The current standoff regarding the country's nuclear programme must not distract either the government or the international community from addressing the country's long-standing human rights problems." What about the media? I watched all day yesterday, for a Reuters, perhaps an AFP ... and again today, no sign of it... Until -- finally -- it appeared on Radio Farda (I know, again, sorry, but hey…) and later on Payvand.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Ahmadinejad said (and unfortunately I am paraphrasing because I can no longer find the link) "If we solve the nuclear issue then they will come after our human rights situation.”

It’s been a while since Amnesty has written a full report on Iran. And as must be the case for all those concerned about the situation of human rights in a given country, I guess, I wish there would be more coverage about it. But the human rights discourse is no longer fashionable. We all know why too, and I will come back to this soon.

I just need to add one more point on the report: although it starts with a clear indication that the situation has worsened since the election of the new President, many of the abuses reported in there were commited during Mr. Khatami’s tenure...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Out of order

I don't regularly check Radio Farda's website, but thanks to E there is now one programme that I make sure I listen to regularly: Kharej az Dastur. It never ceases to make me laugh. Last week's, the one with Larijani's photo, is fantastic.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Shajarian v/ Touré

Weren't we all excited when Mohammad Reza Shajarian (together with Hossein Alizadeh, Kayhan Kalhor and Homayoun Shajarian) was nominated for the Grammy awards. Of course, they had been nominated the year before last as well -- the more reason to hope that they would receive the prize this year! And the "Saz va Avaze Abu Ata" on the second CD of Faryad is just unbelievably soul stirring.

But then, who else was nominated ... Ali Farka Touré ... probably the greatest African musician alive, in collaboration with the griot Toumani Diabate. Very different dialogues between the men and the instruments and yet, equally as mesmerizing.

When I think of the opposition and similarities between the music of Shajarian and that of Touré it reminds me of the two architectural masterpieces: the mosques in Isfahan and Timbuktu.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

More about the cartoons

I thought I was done with the subject of the cartoons, but then first came that so very UNee statement by three UN Special Rapporteurs, on contemporary forms of racism, on freedom of religion or belief and on freedom of opinion and expression. From what I understand they (and their staff at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) had agonized about it for nearly a week! They are treading a very fine line -- it is not for me to criticize.

As much as the previous days had been rather distressing and gloomy, I started to read Brooding Persian's post, qualified by "Psychic" as "brilliant"-- and I fully agree (sorry Psychic, you left no trace, so no possible link on my part). And the day became even brighter as I read in Le Monde the opinion of Soheib Bencheikh, the very enlightened former Mufti of Marseille and that of Mona Eltahawy's in the IHT.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


It is impossible not to read about the cartoons.

I wanted to post an appeal by Tewfik Allal, from the "Association du Manifeste des libertés", but could not find the link.

The three articles that are still remembered by my faulty brain are Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff in the Washington Post, and for those who read Persian, Nikahang's post and French, Olivier Roy's in Le Monde.

What comes to mind first and foremost is the issue that seems to be otherwise obliterated: why is it that it is OK for papers in Saudi Arabia to publish cartoons of Jews drinking children's blood, for TV series in Egypt to bring out the old story of the protocol of the Elders of Zion, for Kayhan to print ad nauseum that Baha'is are creations of the British, Zionism and all the ills of the world and yet when it comes to those Danes...

The OIC has made it a specialty lately to infuse the UN with cries about the defamation of Islam. All religions and beliefs should be respected and I too find it offensive to trample on what is most sacred for others (or for myself). Yet, first and foremost, shouldn't there be a principle of reciprocity?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Too late?

Am I two years too late? Is there a point in starting a blog when it is no longer a novelty, when everyone that had something to say has already posted it, or when all the readers have already chosen and saved their favourites? I guess my do-hezari, or otherwise named coin, took a little stroll before it actually reached its final destination. So bear with me ... as always ...