Saturday, May 20, 2006


If the idea of having people identified because of their beliefs (and in order to better persecute them) is certainly horrendous, there is still something I do not understand:

- A lot of justified outrage at the news that in Iran Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians will soon have to identify themselves with a specific coloured cloth (subsequently denied);

- Silence when the UN discloses Ayatollah Khamenei's order to the Ministry of Information, the Revolutionary Guard and the Police Force to identify of all the members of the Baha'i faith.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

On the fringe of "the letter"

Much has been said about "the letter". I would like to mention two: Firstly, an interesting point at the end of a New York Times article that quoted Wahid Abdel Maguid of the Egyptian Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, saying that the letter "was addressed more to young people in the Islamic world than to the American president" (this point was subsequently repeated by others). And there was also a much-needed response to the missive, posted on a blog, which brought everything back into the right perspective.

Reading the letter, I could not but notice the amount of "(PBUH)" it contained, associated to the various prophets mentioned. Of course, Muslims are familiar with the letters in brackets that always appear after Prophet Mohammed's name, but I was wondering what Americans, and Westerners in general, would make of it.

This led me to another, perhaps more fundamental reflection: one of Mr. Ahmadinejad's points in the letter was to show his own piety and somehow prove that not only was he a fervent believer in Prophet Mohammed, but he was also knowledgeable about and respectful of the Teachings of Christ -- a claim Mr. Bush seemed to make but not put into practice. However, if one reveres the Divine Messengers, then it could indeed be a form of respect to follow the utterance of their names by the expression of the wish that peace be upon them. But then reduce this to a few letters in bracket? To me, this kills all reverence, piety and spirituality.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Football and populism

The strategy involved various entities in power and the orchestration was smooth: Mr. Ahmadinejad played the card of women's rights by announcing that he was allowing indiscriminate access to football stadiums, then a number of grand Ayatollahs publicly expressed their disapproval (one of them being the President's own mentor) and finally the Leader himself said that it was inappropriate and the President bowed to Ayatollah Khamenei's wish, of course. Back to square one, with a few popular gains.

A few days ago I came across an article about a talk given by Ramin Jahanbegloo at the Amir Kabir University some months ago (unfortunately it is in Persian). During the talk Mr. Jahanbegloo made reference to the present government by calling them "populists" and in response to a question on the present situation in Iran he cited Jean-Paul Sartre saying France was never as free as during the Vichy regime. Later in the presentation, he went on to strongly criticize the Reformists as well, saying that the Populists appeared in our society because people no longer trusted the Reformists...

No wonder the man is now in Evin.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


No, I am not going to talk about the nuclear issue nor the Security Council but just return to my favourite subject: human rights.

Elections to the Human Rights Council are going to take place next Tuesday, 9 June, and as I have previously mentioned Iran is a candidate, although by now I believe it will not make it: there are enough other candidates within the Asian group with either better human rights records (which is not so difficult to achieve, as we all know) or who are more powerful and therefore can secure the votes regardless.

But predictions is not the purpose of this post. Because of this candidature, Iran has had to make commitments to the promotion and protection of human rights standards. The letter speaks for itself, but allow me to indulge in quoting one paragraph:

"The IRI, if elected, will spare no effort to assist the international community to safeguard the HRC from injustice, double-standards and politicization."

In other words, it will do its utmost to prevent Iran from being condemned for its human rights violations, as we can see from this and this, just to mention a couple.

On their websites, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have analyzed the situation of the various candidates. Iran is worth checking... edifying!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

(double) Standards

A while ago, another blogger wrote about double standards, or more precisely about various interpretations depending on what suits the argument. His was in favour of the IRI. The discourse was so "nonsensical" (to use the terms of someone who responded in the comments) that my disappointment with the author led me to stop reading the blog altogether, rather than responding.

But the malaise of not having expressed my frustration remained, I guess (although I gladly found today that, in fact, someone did.)

And then, here I am, thanks to Mr. Zarif who had another go at the UN. Surely, he must feel a little awkward at calling upon the United Nations Security Council to somehow protect Iran when, a day or two before, his President had indicated that "Iran does not give a damn about such [Security Council] resolutions", and his main nuclear negotiator had defined them as "not very important".