Thursday, February 10, 2005

Speak out Ms Ebadi!

Shirin Ebdai writes of fundamentalist “elements” in Iran that may be encouraged to become more so in the face of an attack by the US (in a piece for the International Herald Tribune, with Human Rights Watch’s Hadi Ghaemi). While her anti-war message is welcome (we should expect no less from a Nobel peace laureate) it needs to be radicalized.

“Getting the Iranian government to abide by… international standards is the human rights movement's highest goal,” she says. This is not true. The highest goal of the Iranian human rights movement is surely to end Islamic rule. She must accept that she and her colleagues are in fact pitching for a short-term goal: the improvement of human rights in Iran at present; perfectly worthy. However, if Ms Ebadi fails to slam the Islamic-terrorist regime in op-ed pages, she is doing a disservice to her people and a service to the Islamic regime by promoting the idea that things can improve, if only the US would leave off the fundamentalist “elements”.

These "elements" dominate the popcorn bucket that is Iran. They are the establishment. But, just like at the multiplex, with each salty serving you’ll still get a few sweet pieces. Ebadi is one such (that’s why she’s called Shirin). In order to stay so she must come out attacking Iran’s nuclear ambitions, demanding the release of Batebi and all political prisoners, join the exile community, and use her newfound status as a genuine international hero of the people to attack the Stupid White Men who run the United States. (Including Micheal Moore.)

You can read Ebadi's piece here:

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


I was in Mumbai last week and I met a guy called Hamed from Tehran who was studying in the Punjab, up north, and we hung out. I noticed him talking to the Parsee owners of a travellers' cafe. He, like me a couple of months before, appeared to be trying to "connect" with them on some sort of cutural level (one was from Yazd and spoke Persian). But those dinosaurs are not interested in Iran, only their own religion. Last week two Parsee men chased me out of their fire temple. My parents are Zoroastrians, I told them (a fib). They didn't care. They looked at me for an explanation. I told them I was a Marxist. This was a lie too. Every time I've picked up the first volume of Das Kapital I've ended up using it as a pillow. When I was a student it would take a few such hefty books to fill the gap between my head and the desk. Student libraries are not conducive to a good chort [nap].

Anyway, I stopped short of telling the Zoroastrian guys "I'm not interested in your fire unless there is some meat cooking on it". Honestly. You'd think they'd show you their temple. Hindus, Muslims, in India you can visit all their places of worship (although they can't visit each others). But only the Parsees have signs refusing entry to people who don't follow their faith. In Iran earlier last century, the British in Abadan had signs saying "No dogs, no Iranians". I saw that in a documentary once.

"Condi pollo*"

Wise dollar
Before we get too excited about the post-Rice prospects of Palestinians, a poverty-stricken people, we only need to look at how the US is treating the poor within its own borders. Bush has announced a cut of "28% — or $1.4 billion — from our arsenal of critical social programs", according to Eric Garcetti in the Los Angeles Times. This hits vital services directed at society's most vulnerable such as the homeless and people on welfare. I am not very good at figures, but Bush is clearly cleverer than me when it comes to money: "A taxpayer dollar ought to be spent wisely or not spent at all," he told the Detroit Economic Forum yesterday.

Superpower’s super-poor
It is therefore wise to attack the poor buy cutting services that are essential to their wellbeing and even wiser to spend what you have saved on killing the poor in countries that directly or indirectly fall within your colonial remit (Iraq and Israel). Israel and Palestine are represented constantly in the media as players on an equal footing on the world stage. Even the UK-based Guardian and Independent buy into this. The fact is that Israel is backed by the world's only superpower and Palestine has no such might supporting it.

Faramoosh nashavad [Don't forget the mouse**]
Away from the handshakes and smiles there is as much reason for the US -- judging by it's criteria for attacking Iraq -- to target Israel as there is Iran. Ask Mordecai Vanunu (, the "whistleblower" on Israel's nuclear ambitions, who if history falls into the right hands will be remembered as an unsung Nelson Mandela of our times. He was jailed, if memory serves me well, for 17 years after being kidnapped in Italy. Now, despite being released last year, he cannot leave the country. Yet we are supposed to forget that Israel has as criminal and zealous a government as Iran does.

One of the tragedies of Palestine is that the Islamic-terrorist republic of Iran is its most powerful and sturdy friend in the fight against the Zionist-terrorist state of Israel. US policy towards neither country -- allowing Israel to remain in breach of UN resolutions while proposing to punish Iran on suspicion of being -- bodes well for the Palestinians.

Let's talk about something more cheerful. It is snowing outside and I am going to go and build a big snowman. Or maybe I will build a big snowwoman and put a chador on it; as a wise woman once said: feed the poor basmati rice, not Condoleezza Rice.


[Ba tashakor az kessani ke derooz barayam peygham ferestadand, agar rahat tareen be zabaneh zibayeh farsi beneveseen, be gholeh rashdi-ha feel welcome.]

* rice
**An incorrect translation. It in fact means "don't forget" but moosh means mouse in Persian

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Pre-emptive (anti-)war strike
It's official. We're next. Iran, that is. My grandmother is up on the roof feeding the chickens. They look so ignorant as they cluck, but there is a sense of foreboding in their throats today, and it is this that has propelled me to write. Perhaps they can feel the Americans' threats. Allow me to introduce myself:my name is Farhad, I am 23 and I live in a village near the outskirts of the outskirts of Tehran (at this time I will not reveal where in case George Bush, or our own dear president Mr Khatami, finds out. In fact, in order to confuse them, take the first left after the shoe shop).

No shoe shop
There is no shoe shop near where I live. Where was I? I feel it my duty to attempt to talk Bush-joon and that scary Miss Rice (come on, even Sharon's afraid of her) out of attacking our country. There should be a quota on the amount of foreign countries you can colonize. This week she said that when the founding babas spoke of a land of opportunity for all men, "they didn't mean me". I think she was referring to her skin hue rather than gender. But who is she kidding? She and Colin are only nominally black. To be truly black you have got to have a soul, then it doesn't matter what "color" you are. Have you seen The Commitments? We Iranians like to dance. It's a trait we have kept from our African ancestors. Condi's perception of dance, I suspect, is to fire shots at someone's feet, like that gangster in Goodfellas.

Until tomorrow
Anyway, I hope you like my blog so far. When George Bush got elected I was filled with an urge to do something. Well, we can't just let them [Persian] carpet bomb us just like that, can we? We are Iranians, not chickens. Ta farda.