4 Nov 2007, 11:24pm
News & Media

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Revisiting the Hostage Crisis: Firoozeh Dumas on NPR

Check out Firoozeh Dumas’ NPR story about the Iranian hostage crisis and meeting a former hostage many years later. Dumas met Kathryn Koob, one of two women held for over a year shortly after the Iranian revolution.

(Thanks to Sam for the link!)

Marjane Satrapi Q&A in the NYT Magazine

Check out this Marjane Satrapi Q&A. Persepolis comes out here in the US on December 25. Usually these short Q&As are really boring, but this one? No, definitely not boring:

Are you suggesting that veiling and unveiling women are equally reductive? I disagree. We have to look at ourselves here also. Why do all the women get plastic surgery? Why? Why? Why should we look like some freaks with big lips that look like an anus? What is so sexy about that? What is sexy about having something that looks like a goose anus?

I never really thought about goose anatomy. I looked when I was on a farm in France.

Atta girl, Marjane!

Frontline: Showdown With Iran

On October 23rd, PBS will begin airing a Frontline examination of U.S.-Iranian relations, ominously called Showdown With Iran.

The title and previews for this show seem to beat war drums; I’m encouraged only by the fact that PBS is airing this special. PBS has a long history of being even-handed in its political coverage and I will reserve judgment until I’ve watched the program in its entirety.

Local listings can be found on the website. If you miss the program it can be viewed online as well. From the PBS Frontline website:

As the United States and Iran are locked in a battle for power and influence across the Middle East — with the fear of an Iranian nuclear weapon looming in the background — FRONTLINE gains unprecedented access to the Iranian hard-liners shaping government policy. In Showdown with Iran, airing Tuesday, October 23, 2007, at 9 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings), FRONTLINE examines how U.S. efforts to install democracy in Iraq have served to strengthen Iran’s position as an emerging power in the Middle East.

“You will not find a single instance in which a country has inflicted harm on us and we have left it without a response,” deputy head of Iran’s National Security Council Mohammad Jafari tells FRONTLINE in his first television interview. “So if the United States makes such a mistake, they should know that we will definitely respond. And we don’t make threats.”

There are increasing signs that the Bush administration is seriously considering military action before it leaves office if Tehran continues to defy U.N. demands that it cease enriching uranium for its nuclear program — a program the Iranians insist is for peaceful purposes. “The president has said repeatedly that it is unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons,” former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton tells FRONTLINE. “If action is not taken in terms of regime change or, if need be, the use of military force, the question of when Iran achieves nuclear weapons is entirely in Iran’s own hands. And that is extraordinarily undesirable.”

But Richard Armitage, President Bush’s former deputy secretary of state, warns, “It would be the worst of worlds for an outgoing administration to start a conflict.”

After 9/11, the Bush administration hoped to drive a wedge between Iran’s people and their Islamic rulers by installing democracies on two of Iran’s borders. “If things had gone better in Iraq,” says Hillary Mann, the Iran expert on the National Security Council during the run-up to the war, “then yeah, I think Iran was next.”

“I think Iran is more secure now, courtesy of the United States,” Bolton says. “We have removed the Taliban regime from Afghanistan, which they viewed as a mortal threat. We have removed Saddam Hussein in Iraq, which they viewed as a mortal threat.”

Before invading Iraq, the Bush administration rebuffed a series of overtures from Iran’s reformist government — among them offers to help the U.S. stabilize Iraq after the invasion — which culminated in a secret proposal for a grand bargain resolving all outstanding issues between the U.S. and Iran, including Iran’s support for terrorism and its nuclear program. The U.S., which had branded Iran part of the “axis of evil,” decided on a confrontational approach.

Vali Nasr, author of The Shia Revival, believes the Bush administration’s confrontational approach discredited Iran’s reformists and inadvertently helped bring the new hard-line government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power. “The wars of 2001 and 2003 have fundamentally changed the Middle East to Iran’s advantage,” he says. “The dam that was containing Iran has been broken.”

19 Oct 2007, 11:01pm
Events News & Media

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Paris Marashi at PopTech

Iranian-American Paris Marashi is one of the few live bloggers at the PopTech conference. Check out her posts on her blog and at Sounds Iranian.

Shirin Neshat in the New Yorker

The New Yorker has a piece on Shirin Neshat this week, and there’s a slide show on their website: check it out. The image above is from Neshat’s film “Zarin,” which is based on Shahrnush Parsipur‘s excellent feminist novel, Women Without Men.

Blog Action Day: Tehran Smog

Today is Blog Action Day, when thousands blogs have committed to posting about the environment; according to a Global Voices translation, 500 of these are Iranian blogs.

Hopefully some of them are writing first-hand accounts of Tehran smog, which, according to an AFP report from January, kills 3,600 a month. That’s 120 people dying every day from respiratory problems caused by smog. 120 a day! The city is surrounded by mountains, which trap smog on days that aren’t windy, and its 3 million cars are to blame for high amounts of carbon monoxide in the air.

The Iranian government has daily air quality updates online… any word from the inside on how accurate this is?

[Photo: amirsnaps]

Vice on an Iranian Wedding


Vice magazine has a freaky photo essay of an Iranian wedding, shot two years ago by sister-of-the-bride Sanna Sjöswärd. One of the photos is above. Sjöswärd was born in Iran, placed in an orphanage by her parents, and adopted by Swedes when she was four. She just came out with a book called “Roots” that is about going back to Iran to find her biological family. I haven’t seen it, but I want to.

Most people have seen photos of lavish Iranian weddings. Striking about this wedding album, though, is that the people are very poor and very religious. There’s a grotesque quality about the pictures – maybe it’s the garish makeup. The spellings of some of the names are a little off: “Sedighre,” “Mehti”?

If you’ve looked at Vice (not safe for work) before, you know their deal is seedy = hip. Their print issues are free (at least, they were when I read them in college) but it just gets a little exhausting after a while to look at, it’s so hipstery and disengaged. Still, an interesting representation of Iranian life here. What do you make of these photos?

Iran So Far

SNL’s take on Ahmadinejad…

Highlight: “I know you say there’s no gays in Iran… but you’re in New York now, baby.”
(Thanks, Shobeir!)Thoughts?

Gays and Transsexuals in Iran

After Iran’s president last week uttered his ludicrous statement about Iran not having any gays, here’s a Washington Post essay penned by a 25-year-old gay Iranian man, Amir, that strikes back. And here’s a NY Times article by Nazila Fathi, which essentially says the same thing as Amir’s essay – that gay culture, like many things, exists in Iran – it’s just truly on the downlow. Above you’ll see the CBC’s February report about Iranian gays. What’s interesting to me is this quote in the NYT article:

“There is a thick wall between homosexuals and transsexuals,” Mr. Kariminia [a cleric who wrote his thesis on Islam and transsexuality] said. “Transsexuals are sick because they are not happy with their sexuality, and so they should be treated. But homosexuality is considered a deviant act.”

That same cleric is featured in this fascinating Current TV report on Iranian transsexuals by Yasmin Vossoughian and Kouross Esmaeli (via Iranian Truth). Watch the whole thing.

Update: Also see this NYT op-ed, which is comprised of translated reactions to the Ahmadinejad speech from Iranian bloggers. Very cool.

Ahmadinejad at Columbia


Are you in New York? Go up to Columbia to see the madness as Ahmadinejad is giving a speech there today. Here’s an AP report of his arrival by Nahal Toosi. A friend at Columbia’s graduate school let me know they are covering the event really comprehensively today. If there are any Iranians in New York reading this who want to speak to her, please email me at editorATparsarts.com and I’ll put you in touch.

The Columbia Spectator’s site has a special web feature including an “Ahmadineblog” and will have a ton of live coverage.

Update: The event is over and here’s another live-blog that covered the speech and subsequent questions. Also see Nahal Toosi’s AP article on the Houston Chronicle about the content of the speech.