I have been enjoying Twitter for the past year. T...
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گندابِ فرهنگ و فرهنگِ گنداب
میروسلاو هولوب، شاعر ...
Camp Ashraf residents are Protected Persons under ...
The speech attributed to Taeb is only published i...
Call for no fly zone in Libya.
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Syria: Tal al-Molouhi, a 19 year old girl, sentenc...
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Friday, October 31, 2003
Happy Birthday Maman
My dad is taking us (mom+Sheema+Sheema's two brothers) to Shem-shak (one of the ski resorts near Tehran). I am a Ten-year-old girl who wants to stay in the warm bed and never to wake up at 3 A. M. to her mom's kheshhhh kheshhhhh sound of skiing outfit...walking in the next room. Dad dressed and ready (already has made sandwiches, has put extra hats/ gloves, etc. in the back of the red station car and) is waiting downstairs for Sheema and her two brothers to get ready and leave before the traffic gets heavy. Why today is any different than all the other-every-winter- Fridays? Well I still remember it after all these years. Not only for the accident we had on the way back which made my parents suffer financially and physically for two ugly months but also because while we were stuck in the Tehran-Shemshak's ever existing traffic and bad drivers...mom told us (her three kids) to never smoke or drink. Now...years later I still don't smoke cigarettes/drugs...I don't eat pork (red meat in general,) fried food, and I don't drink alcohol or coffee but (yes there is a but) I am a chocoholic. Chocolate is my biggest weakness (I see a dark chocolate and I can feel my body is experiencing some sort of immediate ache for the blinking poisonous beauty.)
Why am I writing all these is because as a first time mom I want my daughter...as she grows older to stay away from addictions...to drugs/alcohol and talking heads (keh saro kaleye adam-o mibaran) and Chocolate...
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
A Fading Voice
I come from a land
where god never exists
When the children called him
When the fathers called him
When the mothers called him
took his eyes out
cut his ears off
cut his tongue off
out of the dirty land (god) took his heart out
god banished that land!
Monday, October 27, 2003
Since my article Ayatollah Ebadi was published I received considerable number of responses. Most of them were encouraging. Some were critical of my point of view at the same time as providing well-reasoned arguments and factual references to historical events, and I value and appreciate such opposing views. There were also some angry notes and remarks published on Iranian.com. Some of those remarks are not worthy of response, for example that Ms. Ebadi was fighting in Iran while I was spending my time in nightclubs or as women we must stand behind Ms. Ebadi. Here I try to summarize and respond to some of the opposing views to the best of my ability.
Am I not confusing Islamic Republic with Islam. Am I attacking Ms. Ebadi for her religious beliefs? The answer is no. As a matter of fact, the article was not an attack on Islam, Fegh, or even Islamic Republic or Ms. Ebadi's beliefs. It was an objection to Ms. Ebadi's approach to address profound social and cultural problems in Iran through reconciling Fegh with human rights. Compatibility of Islam with democracy and human rights is a hotly debated topic within religious circles. Ms. Ebadi and some renowned clerics believe Islam and human rights can be reconciled, many others don't share this view. If we listen to Friday sermons in Iran we find numerous examples of the latter group.
Islamic theologians are welcome to spend years and years debating this issue and I will be very interested to follow this debate closely. While I am not in a position to participate in this debate, I have the right to demand that the fate of our nation shall not hinge upon the outcome of such debate. The history of mankind has shown that only through separation of religion and state, religion gets the dignity it deserves and the society gets the freedom it needs to foster and safeguard the so-called "marketplace of ideas." The odds that our nation suddenly discovers a new magical recipe that contradicts thousands of human experience is, realistically, slim to none.
Ms. Ebadi is living and working in Iran. She cannot express her opinions freely. Am I not expecting too much? It is a rather tricky question, which also keeps me wondering. On the one hand I have to admit that she is already under so much pressure. After all she is a human being with all the emotions and fears. And in fairness to Ms. Ebadi, she didn't choose to become a Nobel Laureate. On the other hand, there are numerous examples of people shouting their conscience under much harsher conditions without enjoying a Nobel class protection. A few examples are Abbas Amir-Entezam, Akbar Ganji, Hashem Aghajari, Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, Kianoush Sanjari, Ahmad Batebi, Mohammad Maleki, Manouchehr Mohammadi,... The list goes on. Each of these people has broken new grounds at the same time as having not shied away from speaking up. As a matter of fact I can point to some specific examples of people who have pursued a timid approach and have been punished more heavily (does Abdi and Poorzand ring a bell?)
If Ms. Ebadi decides to continue helping women and children and represent victims, nobody can force her to do otherwise. But when she suggests a particular approach to solving Iran's profound problems, she opens the door to criticism. This is the responsibility of every one of us to challenge each other and to make the views transparent.
One reader noted that my reference to Black civil rights movements was indeed an example of how change could come from within the legal system instead of being a counter-example by pointing to the role of the Warren Supreme Court. While this is certainly an interesting and productive discussion, my point was to warn against setting a discourse blindly without examining the alternatives from the wealth of experience provided by human history.
Finally some readers found the title of the article provocative. This objection goes to Mr. Jahanshah Javid (Iranian.com editor) who picks the titles!
All that is left
to us by tradition
is mere words.
It is up to us
to find out what they mean.
-- ibn al-'Arabi, Tarjuman al-Ashwaq, in The Mystics of Islam, translated by Reynold A Nicholson
Read Niloofar Beyzaie's latest article.
Thursday, October 23, 2003
Ayatollah Ebadi? Shirin Ebadi seems far from acknowledging separation of religion and state.
For P and our baby girl:
I belong to you
You belong to me too
You make my life complete
You make me feel so sweet
You make me feel so divine
Your soul and mind are entwined
Before you I was blind
But since I've opened my eyes
And with you there's no disguise
So I could open up my mind
I always loved you from the start
Lyrics by Lenny Kravitz
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
We, the Iranians, usually don't listen to each other. When we do we usually hear only what we want to hear.
I am not sure if the crowd that praises Ms. Ebadi has ever listened to what she has to say, and if so, if they have actually heard her out. Let me make it clear that as an Iranian I am very proud to see an Iranian woman to become not only the first Iranian Nobel Laureate but also the first Muslim woman to receive this honor. But I have to admit that I am extremely disappointed by her views. In a round table with BBC, she made several disturbing remarks. First was her emphasis on the possibility of reconciling human rights with Islamic Fegh. She gave examples of the flexibility of Islamic Fegh to serve the specific needs of the society through the so-called "ahkam-e-sanaviyeh." This was given against the backdrop that "reason" is one of the sources of knowledge and wisdom in Islam. Make no mistake Ms. Ebadi. The Islamic establishment in Iran is very pragmatic in the way they handle Fegh. The only problem is that they use it as a flexible tool to serve their own goals and why not? After all they are the "supreme interpreters" of what Fegh should be about. Ms. Ebadi, what you are suggesting was institutionalized years ago through formation of the Expediency Council (which is now headed by Mr. Rafsanjani)? Recall that this council was established with the mandate to even abolish daily prayers as seen fit by the members. Somebody wrote on one of the Internet sites: "Ms. Ebadi please leave Fegh to Foghaha." Let them do their job you do yours.
Second, Ms. Ebadi vehemently insists on abiding by the laws of the land. It is not clear though whether it is her belief, some sort of moral judgment, or just a convenient tactic. What if the "laws of the land" are inherently discriminatory, with no room for meaningful changes except by the approval of the discriminators (which in almost all practical situations would mean never)? Should they then be abided by? Is this Aristotelian view of the law the only alternative? Black Americans challenged Jim Crow by intentionally but peacefully breaking the segregation laws of the South. Does this make their struggle any less worthy? What about Gandhi's civil disobedience movement? What about American antiwar protesters who burned draft cards to refuse to serve in the Vietnam War? Weren�t those people, speaking, or actually shouting their conscience? Isn't the over-emphasis on abiding by the law one of the biggest impediments of the reformist movement? Hasn't it been one of the leading causes of the current political stalemate? Laws that don't reflect the conscience of the society deserve no more respect than the rules set by a band of thieves.
Without complete separation of religion and state we will be doomed to re-experience failures over and over. Ms. Ebadi seems to be far from acknowledging this, let alone taking any steps towards leading the society in such direction. Nevertheless, I still have some hope that the people of Iran could benefit from her standing as a Nobel Laureate but it all depends on us. Now that the honeymoon is over, we have to look at the hard facts and increase our level of expectations from her. Meaningless "tarofs" will do us no good, nor will it do justice to Ms. Ebadi. Ms. Ebadi needs our help to prove it to herself and to the world that she indeed deserved the honor. For this to happen, Ms. Ebadi should set an example of a Muslim who can be democrat and who can respect human rights not a preacher of Islamic democracy and Islamic human rights.
Thursday, October 16, 2003
The Iranian Noble Peace prizewinner, Ms. Shirin Ebadi seems to have become the greatest attraction in the western media since the movie Not Without My daughter. Ms. Ebadi, a blind spot and a ticking bomb in the heart of the Islamic Republic of Iran can be compared to what Mr. Khomaini was to the Shah. She may be an excellent choice for the future of Iran if only she uses her popularity to advocate genuine human rights and democracy for Iran as well as the Muslim world (I hope she will not get killed by the government-made-accidents!)
I am invited to be the guest co-editor for the muse-apprentice-guild.com 2004.
Today: A daughter of autumn, the Scorpion-Sheema takes her little girl for a walk to enjoy the sun dance in the beautiful New England before returning to work on a Psychology report and feeding the baby. Her husband (the cleaning robot) is out of town. Sheema...struggling with a suffocating dish washer and a dead garbage disposal, is not sure what the next life-saving-decision should be to stop the dirty dishes from bungee jumping on top of one another!
Check maaniha and Babak Ghaffari (poetry).
Sunday, October 12, 2003
What would Ms. Ebadi's Nobel peace prize mean for Iran and the Iranian people struggle for democracy?
It is still too early to say. So far one may understand Ms. Ebadi's position in two different ways. One is a more humane interpretation of Islam. The other is a secular interpretation; one that asserts Muslims can remain Muslims at the same time as being modern, tolerant, and democratic. The dividing line between these two interpretations is fine and delicate. The former conditions the acceptance of human rights and democracy on compatibility with Islamic law by trying to create Islamic human rights, Islamic democracy and so on; a sort of "modernity light" if you will. The latter advocates genuine human rights and democracy for the Muslim world. The former is what Soroush and the reformist camp have tried to establish for many years with absolutely no success whatsoever. The latter can bring about radical changes not only in Iran but also in the whole Middle East. Only time will show what camp Ms. Ebadi really belongs to and how she would use her influence as a Nobel laureate to shape the future of Iran and the Middle East. No matter what, now is the time for celebration. Congratulations to Ms. Ebadi for this great achievement.
What would the mullahs do if the US launched an air strike at a nuclear plant in Iran? What would the Iranian people think about it?
The key point in this debate is that we are dealing with an irresponsible government in Iran. The international community and the Iranian people have every right to be concerned about nuclear ambitions of the regime. This includes not only military use of nuclear technology but also peaceful use such as power production. Personally I don't want to be living anywhere near Bushehr nuclear power plant should it ever become operational because I seriously doubt that safety concerns keep mullahs and their Russian contractors awake at night! And God help us if these people ever get their hands on nuclear trigger. In the event of air strikes, I don't think Mullahs can do much other than making some noise and throwing some people in jail to consolidate their rule. People may act in many different unpredictable ways. Everything and anything is conceivable so I don't know What would the Iranian people think about it!
Friday, October 10, 2003
...We run through the forests of emotion
with the wolves of the heart at our heels
in search of the moon and the blood, in search
of the perfect prey to lay between our jaws
as we wait for the sweet music
of when bones and hope crunch beneath
a savage assault and dreams are left a corpse
lain to rest under the ethereal light...
Sheema Kalbasi & Roger Humes
Shirin Ebadi, a judge, lecturer, writer and a female human rights and democracy activist, wins 2003 Nobel Peace Prize. Congratulations Ms. Ebadi. (The baby Shirin Ebadi with her mom).
There are a few rules...that the baby has to follow...one is sleeping at 8:00 p.m. but...we had pacifier-crises last night! The baby is not allowed to have her pacifier anywhere but in the bed (and I if I had not had a C-section and if I had not experienced problems with breastfeeding and if� she wouldn't have had a pacifier in the first place!) ...since the baby's one and only pacifier was out of sight but not out of (her) mind...P decided to go and find/buy the-baby-right-type-pacifier (he spent some $18 and... all were rejected by the little girl!) So from the baby not sleeping up until 11:45 p.m. (I am not sure what time the father/daughter went to sleep because around 11:30 I took a leave from motherhood and retired to bed while hearing P's voice pleading: Don't leave me with the baby, pleaszzz -the little girl is running around the house and doesn't seem to be sleepy...) to the baby not sleeping at 8:00 p.m. to the baby not sleeping at 8:00 p.m. to the baby not sleeping at 8:00 p.m. to the baby not sleeping at 8:00 p.m. to the baby not sleeping at 8:00 p.m. left P and I with a difficult-parenting-night to remember.
Alireza Behnam has a new discussion on Sohrab Sepehri (Iranian Poet)...while you are there check Mr. Behnam's works.
Hoder has written a fun-to-read article...He writes what could the Mullahs do if women decide to take off their Hijab? ...It reminds me of what my dad used to say: The Iranian women should shave off ther heads and come to the streets... lets see what they (Mullahs) say about that!
When I read/see/hear some Iranians favor a "Che" Guevara without having prior knowledge on how many deaths he's responsible for and haven't even heard of a Chico Mendes (a famous Brazilian environmentalist who was murdered 10 years ago for opposing the destruction of the rainforest) makes me very disappointed.....
...just found this blog by Reza Eghbal.
Thursday, October 09, 2003
To the readers of Lam Ta Kam (it 's a site for Persian poetry-written for every one by every one.)
I do not know why this poem needs to be defended or attacked. It is not a human being and does not feel, hear, understand your pain or love hidden behind the comments you leave on these pages. This writing/work/poem/brain storming is neither the best of my works nor the last one. If you dislike the poem so much so to call me a whore you are welcome to do that for I am a human first and last and no one can change this fact in this lifetime. I do not live with your rules for I have mine and I will not be limited by your rules for I am born free and will live free and fight for my rights and yours!
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
...every night the window panes are shattered ,
not by a football ,
or by the sarcasm of an onlooker ,
but by an undistinguishable boom from above ,
like the echo of an execution bullet from a distance !
Welcome to Iran: a country where a rapist has more right than a woman. Welcome to Iran: This is where a woman is hanged for protecting herself from a rapist. Welcome to Iran: a country where defending yourself from an aggressor is a crime and punishable by death. Welcome to my land! I am Afsaneh Noroozi, prisoner number 55,644,568.
(P: why this number?
Sheema: out of the 60,000,000 Iranians, Noroozi is number 55,644,568.
P: and the rest are?
Sheema: The bloodthirsty mob of the Iranian government.
P: Very Interesting)
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Maman will be hospitalized tomorrow...I take me out of me and let her sit on the floor and put her arms around me. I call P and tell him when he comes home he has to touch me with care for I will break if his kisses are anything but soft... What is the sound when doves weep? What is the sound when crows cry...
On July 27th, I had received an invitation to attend a Middle Eastern Studies conference at Harvard. The plan was for P, the baby and I to go for the weekend (...p and the baby to spend the weekend sightseeing Boston.) This was the plan made three months ago...for last weekend...but what happened were an exam (Sheema having an exam) and a cold (Sheema having fever and cold!) We ended up staying home with a cranky Sheema (myself) and an Iranian husband (P) discussing Iran's current political events while trying to assemble the baby's first vehicle (a green, yellow and navy blue, German-made tricycle.) I also had to call my attorneys to discuss some legal issues. It feels good to live in the U.S.A., a country where my rights as a human and a female poet are protected and harassment in every shape and form is not tolerated.
What is the sound when doves weep,
what is the sound when crows cry...
we climb through
the sadness of time
to stop the killing
of the blushing birds
and of the summer days...
and not to hide within the white winds
in hope of some distant heaven
or of a vision of spring.
What is the sound when mirrors shatter,
what is the sound when forests burn...
we climb through
the sadness of time
to stop the deforestation
of the oceans
that are filled with the blood
and the mute agony
of the blushing birds.
What is the sound when waters flow red,
what is the sound when winds suffer mute...
we climb through
the sadness of time
where the men are speechless
and hindered by their centuries' worth of silence...
in a place where the conviction of innocence
when raped from the soul and lost to the generations
kills the perfect dream of freedom-hope-peace.
What is the sound when dreams die,
what is the sound when hope turn to dust...
we climb through
the sadness of time
and question the antique patriot love
and question if death can be expelled
from the vocabulary of the mortal
and question if the lifelong grief for a martyr
can become unaccustomed to my mother tongue.
What is the sound when doves weep,
what is the sound when crows cry...
Sheema Kalbasi & Roger Humes
If you like to read modern Persian poetry�.you can check Lam Ta Kam.
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Last night I finished reading Shaban Nikou, Mahasti Shahrokhi's latest work. The characters in Mahasti's book portray a refreshing new perspective on Iranian life in Diaspora. It is a delightful read.
Hossein Derakhshan has written an article on How weblogs can change the way the world sees Iran.