26 sht 2007

Ahmadinejad in Columbia University

Breaking news: Iranian state TV is supposed to air the event tonight. I'm very eager to know how much of the program is going to be censored. if all the program is aired... I dont know what may happen!
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More to read:
Transcripts of the event (beginnig by Mr Ahmadinejad's Speech)
Another Transcript (containing Mr. Bollinger's Introduction)
Washingtonpost's remarks (makes a fun of Ahmadinejad)
Jerusalem Post ("Ahmadinejad grilled in Columbia Q&A)
NewyorkTimes' report (just read)
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As an example of his mistakes, Ahmadinejad infromed the audience in Columbia University: "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country". Provided that following videos are available to many westerners, what do you expect them to think about him?

Out of Iran
the persecution of homosexuals in the islamic republic of Iran (Broadcast on the CBC’s Sunday Night, Feb.18.2007)
part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAzMuHyg8Eg
part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QMcfSuJkMo
part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUZiMCsNNcQ
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One sentence to Mr. Ahmadinejad:
Mr. President, if you dont know the way you should appear to westerners, don't insist on it, plz.

25 sht 2007

Evolution of Iran-America relations

While exploring a phenomenon, either social or political (with regards to the subject of this post), the researcher may have many different approaches available to study the subject. For example, one may try to find the set of the causes which shape the public opinions in either side; another person may try a SWOT analysis to predict the future; and a third researcher may focus on the possible butterfly effect of an unpredicted factor (like Ahmadinejad, whose election and acts were unpredicted, while he is still unpredictable because a simple pattern in his behavior is yet to be identified by either politicians or psychologists).
Monitoring the ordinary people in my society and exploring the contemporary history of Iran, one may find out that an evolution in the Iran-America relations is underway. The most important feature of this evolution is that it is happening in the side of people, not governments (unfortunately politicians rarely –if ever– have the necessary capabilities for an evolution).
Note: I don’t know much about Americans, but let me hope that the thing now ongoing in Iran is also happening in US.
If I were supposed to choose a name for this so-called evolution, I would name it: ‘towards a realistic understanding of the other side’.
This process in Iran might be completely different from US, with regards to various factors including but not limited to: sources of misunderstanding in each side, how much people are prepared to change their minds in different issues and give up on their false beliefs, how much regimes (and mainstream media which distorts almost every piece of news) let people understand each other, how many realistic resources of information are available to each side (including such cyber-exchanges which may provide a better source of information compared to their mainstream media counterparts), etc. One of such characteristic differences might be this: while most of the Iranians have a fair good grasp of natural resources of US, there are many Americans that even don’t know Iran has beautiful jungles and landscapes! Yeah, this may seem worthless, but I strongly believe that such small pieces form a big puzzle together. Also the pace of change might be different in each society; same things may be listed to justify this as well.
Enough theory; where is evidence? Let’s have a closer look at a revolutionary concept in post-revolutionary Iran and how it evolved throughout a period of about 3 decades: Hating America.

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We (as Iranians) hate America, or at least we keep hearing everyday that we should hate it. “Why should we?” Immediately after revolution, even asking such a question might seem insulting to many people in Iran. Roksana Bahramitash, an Iranian scholar in Canada, gives the answer: “It was too early for many Iranians to forget the CIA-engineered coup of 1953, which returned the Shah back to power.” That coup overthrew Mossadeq, who nationalized Iran’s oil industry and is still regarded by many (except some hardliners) as a national hero. Some years after the end of Iran-Iraq war, due to entrance of many youngsters who has no direct experience or even any idea of American tyranny (either real, or just perceived by elders), providing an answer to this question became more important.
Yeah, many books, articles, interviews, etc. were prepared to shed a light on the history of America’s interventions in Iran, either in pre-revolutionary Iran or in post-revolutionary Iran (in events like: provoking Saddam to attack Iran, supporting Saddam and letting him use WMD against Iranians as well as Iraqi Kurds, attacking an Iranian civil airplane and killing all its passengers by 2 missiles, etc.). The next question arose: “Whom exactly we should hate: Americans, this or that US Government, America’s political system, or America as a whole?”
The proper answer to this question at the early stages of revolution (if anybody had ever dared to ask) would be “America as a whole, including its citizens”, for the only Americans observed by Iranians were those engaged in Shah’s activities in Iran. But after about 15 years, an evolution had happened: the new generation would never accept the previously valid answer. Then, IRI propaganda machine excluded ‘Americans’ from the above answer and focused on American government and political system. This was because the new generation not only had a new perception of Americans (a common idea in that time which was the basis of new generation’s perception of US was this: every society has ‘good’ and ‘bad’ members), but also had found out that ‘people should not be held responsible for every single act of their governors’.
The latter was due to the experience of Iranians themselves: in a quasi-democratic situation, Iranians had to choose between limited options for different positions (like president, MPs, etc.); consequently they found out that though they choose A, they can’t be approving of all of his activities and behaviors as a whole. The Iranians’ experience of a quasi-democratic regime helped them understand how world works, and it was a step further toward ‘a more realistic understanding of the other side’.
Fortunately, the evolution didn’t stop. “We chose Ahmadinejad for he promised some economic reforms. Yes, we know that he is repeating his anti-holocaust rhetoric. He might be wrong in this case for we know that Jews suffered a lot in that damn war (and even there is a new serial in TV which narrates Jews’ problems in WWII), but we may choose him again if we find him successful in economy”. Some are contemplating: “if such a weird thing may happen in our country, it may also happen in other countries. That US president might be very hostile against us, but he might have been very good for his own people.”
There are enough signs to prove that this process won’t stop here. Free access to western media helped many people to understand why US (and westerners in general) may sometimes have every reason to be suspicious of Iran’s programs and acts: “when he says that ‘Israel should be wiped off the map’, then he says that ‘we need nuclear capability’, every reasonable creature might conclude that he needs it to do that! But I may still vote in his favor, because he has done many good things: building some new universities, providing the poor and needy with Justice Shares, fighting or firing some of mafia figures, etc.” Don’t you see this as another step towards a more realistic view?

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Some may argue that such things happen mainly within intelligentsia and educated people. I do admit, with only one modification: ordinary people tend to pass the path left by intelligentsia. Many of these changes were not so common when they happened within intellectuals, but after a while, they became popular. ‘Time will solve all the problems’, albeit if and only if we let it.

Quasi-Democracy

In a post in Mideastyouth, Omid (a Bahai author) said that "Iran is a quasi-democracy". Gary (another author) said that " I’m certainly not an expert on Iran, but I seem to recall that the government approves all candidates, rejecting those it doesn’t like. I would summarize that as simply undemocratic, basically a trick of dictators to hold onto power. Correct me if I’m wrong." Here is my comment to describe what a 'Quasi-Democracy' is:
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Intellectuals of the Iranian society are trying to push the idea of a democracy further and further, but the ordinary people are confused: they can’t understand what the ultimate solution to all the problems they have in their life is. That is why they vote for a reformist candidate (Khatami, who tried to make a more democratic situation in Iran) this year, and vote for Ahmadinejad (a full-option hardliner, upon whom people trusted to make a better economic situation) few years later.When ordinary people go with the flow of intellectuals, they make a high pressure on regime, and regime approves/allows more democratic candidates/movements. When the people are misguided by someone like Ahmadinejad, the regime gets more hardliner for it already has all the support it needs. (Keep in mind that this regime would do any necessary compromise to keep itself on power. I’ll write something about this issue and post it in mideastyouth, as soon as possible. This is a fact, though sometimes westerners may have every reason to fail to understand it).
That is a kind of Quasi-Democracy, isn’t it?

18 sht 2007

Is it Immoral?

Jahanshah Rashidian, posted something new in Mideastyouth. The main idea of his new post is this:
  • German-Iranian Trade is immoral: Because of totalitarian character of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), trade with it, apart from foods and medical goods, is immoral. it helps the regime to survive and to further tighten its noose round people’s necks.
Here is my comment to this idea:
  • As long as you don’t define “morality” properly, this whole debate is flawed.
    Need any example of this Flaw? Clarify your position on China: the people of China are so politically oppressed due to many reports, and many of their basic human rights are denied. But the country is so developing, and many believe that if it were not for the sake of this (oppressing) regime, people would be in a very bad situation. Suppose that a democratically elected regime could never achieve such progress: Now, is it moral to (for example) topple Chinese Government?
    I think this is not so easy to answer. Apply the case to IRI regime. If this regime were successful in economy (which has not been), was it moral to topple the regime?
What do you think?

7 sht 2007

FBI and Usama Bin Laden

Though I try not to use 'copy & paste' as a method to fill the blog, the following comment of RandallJones (posted in Mideastyouth) is worthy of reading:
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Are you aware that the FBI’s webpage on Osama Ben Laden does not mention 9/11? See: Bin Ladan's page on official site of FBI. Why wouldn’t an attack which killed 3,000 people be specifically mentioned? Journalist Ed Haas’ investigates this,

On June 5, 2006, the Muckraker Report contacted the FBI Headquarters, (202)324-3000, to learn why Bin Laden’s Most Wanted poster did not indicate that Usama was also wanted in connection with 9/11. The Muckraker Report spoke with Rex Tomb, Chief of Investigative Publicity for the FBI. When asked why there is no mention of 9/11 on Bin Laden’s Most Wanted web page, Tomb said, “The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Usama Bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.”

5 sht 2007

Divine Will (II)

A very busy week I had, sorry for delay. Let’s go a bit further with the current point.
Lord is a believer in “an omnipotent God” who “can do whatever acts he desires”, but unfortunately it is not likely to solve the problem. Remember the main point which fueled our whole debate: existence of different, inconsistent and even contradictory understandings of that Divine Will. How can we justify such a thing? Lord gives his own view: “God did his best to tell us his Divine Will, and if there are different views and understanding, he wanted so.” Then, the main point is left untouched; Hurray!
Let me paraphrase the case: Indeed, I was aimed to find a reference authenticated by God as the original understanding of His Divine Will. Here, Lord proposes another alternative: if there are different views and understandings, it is possible that God wanted it so.
Therefore, with regards to the fact that God sent us his messengers and revealed many verses in order to make a religious structure for our lives, first of all we should find out if God prescribes a sole definite code for our lives, or just gives us some clues and then wants us to act based on our understanding of that clues which may make many different or even contradictory structures? In other words, there are two possible maps:
(I) There is a precise Code which God and Religion means it and we should try to find it, though some times we may misunderstand it (if this misunderstanding happens while we do our best to find out that Divine Will, God may forgive us); and God's code includes instructions for every simple task of human's life, i.e., in any certain time and place, God has a Will which is Unique and we have to find it.
(II) God has ordered some principles on which we should build our understanding, and from which we should try to derive a kind of Code, and different people may conclude differently, i.e. God has not (meant) a Unique Determined Code.
A simple example may show the difference between above maps more precisely: somebody concludes that right now, ‘A’ (an act, behavior, etc.) is allowed, while the other finds it forbidden. Map (I) tells us that not both of them are true, for God’s code is unique and covers all aspects of human's life: one of them is true, and the other is wrong. Map (II) tells us that it is possible that both of them are true at the same time, on the basis that God has probably not determined a definite Code for A and has left it for people to decide which is true themselves. You know the idea behind ‘Straights Paths’ of Dr. Soroush which is somehow based upon this ideology.
Let me clarify the stand of advocates of Map (II) a bit more: they say that God has a determined code for just few things like Prayers, Fast, etc. In other areas (especially when it comes to some features of contemporary life like economy, geography, etc.), God has left it to the Wisdom of Crowd. People should make trial and errors and step by step develop their own systems of life.
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Dear Lord!
In either case, almost all scholars do agree that an ordinary person is not able to find out the path, for he/she first of all should think of all such matters and then decide about them. The only things that Quran has for everybody (and there is no need for an interpreter to find out them), is prescribed principles of Islam, things of this kind:
1- There is a God, who is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and unique.
2- There will be a day of doom, the last day, Day of Judgment.
Etc.

Good Luck