Sunday, July 23, 2006


I had been waiting for a couple of days, in fact since Thursday when the article appeared in Persian, for Rooz to translate it into English and then ... it announced that the whole staff was taking a week-long holiday! I am all for holidays, so no complaints here... but that was also the signal to the absence of translation to come.

Mr. Abbas Abdi was asked to give his thoughts on Mr. Ganji and the Reformists, and basically saying that he did not think any of the two had any real programme in order to bring about change in Iran. In a nutshell, he said that if Mr. Ganji's programme could take place in Iran, it would mean that there would be a government with which no one would have a problem to begin with. And then he added that this kind of actions eventually resulted in some form of violence, whether you liked it or not, and the Iranian people did not want that. As for the Reformists, he said that rather than pretending they have a programme, they should first take stock of their previous actions.

In conclusion, when he was asked what should be done he said: nothing. And then went on to say that Mr. Ahmadinejad is doing the right thing, taking the country to a place where nothing could be done for it.

(Apologies for the approximate translation, the Persian is here.)

It sadly reminded my of a book I read about Iraq -- probably the best book on the subject that I have come across -- and the dramatic lack of capable and earnest (I know, it's a strange word for politicians, but allow me to use it) leaders to take over the country once Saddam was ousted.

I know I wrote a hopeful post about Mr. Ganji a while ago, and yet, and much to my regret, the more he travels, gives interviews and makes speeches, the more I find myself agreeing with Mr. Abdi, not to say disappointed.

Abdi gave an interesting interview to the New York Times last April -- it is no longer accessible for free, but if you have a few dollars to spare it's here.

Friday, July 14, 2006

(Un)veiled thoughts

As a woman not wearing the "hijab", I still respect those who, out of their own free will, wish to cover their hair/head/body in whichever manner they wish. It's their right, it's their belief. And this post contains a number of interesting links regarding the debate on this issue.

But I must say that yesterday, my heart sank when I saw this -- the First Exhibition of Islamic Covering.

Also, on the same day a Press Conference was held at the outset of the First International Conference on Women's Rights and Responsibilities in an Islamic System. The photos speak for themselves... I suggest this post be considered as a written contribution to the debate.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Where I want to be

I have recently finished "Let me tell you where I've been". The collection contains three remarkable pieces by Farnoosh Moshiri, Mimi Khalvati and Mojdeh Marashi.

Each in their own way and style have been able to take me back to the scent and the feel for the first, the rhythm and the mood for the second and our contradictions for the third.

But aside from those remarkable moments, the taste left is more of a slight bitterness: why only women, as if yet again we have to be separated from men, even in a book, why an overwhelming sadness, as if our culture can only be shrouded in black, why mainly anger and shame...

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Freedom at its best

Someone who participated in a group investigating religious freedom in Egypt once told me how, when they officially met with the Coptic Pope, he told them that the Copts were treated very well, while making a disgusted face, and added that they had equal rights with the Muslims, while shaking his head in a no. The person believed that the Pope had done that because the room was probably bugged, but not filmed...

This reminded me of that story. And is perhaps in response to this -- although I find its contents to be quite mild.