Friday, March 30, 2007

British hostages: Another black page in Iran's history

On November 4, 1979, hardline Iranian students, backed by Ayatollah Khomeini and other radical elements of the new Iranian regime, overran the US embassy in Iran, took sixty six American diplomats and marines hostage and subjected them to physical and psychological abuse for 444 days (13 hostages were releases two weeks into the crisis.) As Kenneth Pollock states in his wonderful book "Persian Puzzle," the crisis did take its toll on both Iran and America: "The hostage crisis has left a terrible scar on the American Psyche...Few americans have ever forgiven the Iranians for it. It is America's great underlying grievance against Iran....we never discuss it openly, but the residual anger that so many Americans feel toward Iran for those 444 days has colored every decision we have made about Iran ever since."

In retrospect, Iran's take-over of the US embassy in 1979, which blatantly violated all international diplomatic protocols, turned the country into an international outcast. Although Khomeini and his radical followers greatly benefited from it, the Iranian people never fully recovered from the tragic effects of this appalling act.

It is in light of this abhorrent background that, as a peace and freedom-loving Iranian, I find Tehran's taking 15 British navy personnel hostage a nightmare revisited. What bothers me the most is the sense of powerlessness that we in the free world feel toward mullahs and their shameless behavior. As National review Online perfectly puts it, it seems like "no act of warfare against the civilized world, no defiance of the United Nations, no violation of international norms, no brazen lie is ever enough to mark Iran as unworthy of outreach, dialogue and the art of sweet persuasion."

Tehran's abominable behavior and its brazen disregard for the international laws should once and for all be met with a firm and direct international reponse. Further isolation and solid sanctions can bring mullahs to their knees only if the international community puts its money where its mouth is.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Blair rebuffed as crisis with Tehran deepens

The Iranian regime these days behaves like a cornered cat that, out of despair, has turned to clawing and caterwauling. Tehran's attempt at taking 15 British servicemen hostage sends a clear a message that 28 years after the seizure of US embassy in Tehran, mullahs still see the world through the prism of intimidation, unruly behavior and of course, terrorism:

Times of London--Britain’s crisis with Iran deepened last night after the Iranian Foreign Minister accused a group of captured British servicemen of committing an act of “aggression”, only hours after Tony Blair appealed for their release.

“The charge against them is their illegal entrance into Iranian territorial waters,” Manouchehr Mottaki, the Foreign Minister, told a press conference in New York. Mr Mottaki said that Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, had requested a telephone conversation with him that was due to take place late last night. But he said that Iran had already provided British officials with details, including GPS coordinates, of the servicemen’s arrest.

The British Ambassador to Tehran was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to explain why 15 service personnel in two inflatable boats had strayed into Iranian territorial waters. “The Iranian authorities intercepted these sailors and Marines in Iranian waters and detained them in Iranian waters. This has happened in the past as well. In terms of legal issues, it’s under investigation,” Mr Mottaki said. His comments were seen as a direct rebuff to the Prime Minister, who only hours earlier had called the seizure of the British servicemen “unjustified and wrong” and demanded their release.

More...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Beautiful news reporter

If you've ever wondered why I wanted to be in broadcast news, here's the reason: Melissa Theuriau!

Now seriously, here's what Wikipedia says about this stunning French newscaster:

"As a result of a compilation of her news broadcasts entitled Beautiful News Reporter that was posted on the website "YouTube" in July 2006 , Theuriau became an Internet icon, drawing large numbers of devotees in the United States. According to one commentator, quoted by The Times, "I never knew the words 'George Bush' and 'Iraq' could sound so sexy"


Well, take a look and judge for yourself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Happy Norouz نوروزتان پیروز


ما خسته از رنگ و ریا ، با درد هر داغ آشنا ، این آسمان را پر فروغ ، روی زمین را بی دروغ
خالی ز کین می خواستیم ، نیک و نوین می خواستیم ، زیباترین می خواستیم
کی اینچنین می خواستیم ؟
***
روزی که قلب این جهان ، با عشق و آزادی زند ، دنیا به روی مردمان ، لبخندی از شادی زند
ای عاشقان ، ای عاشقان ، از یاد ما یاد آورید. دلدادگان ، دلدادگان ، با یاد ما داد آورید
از یاد ما یاد آورید
***
شادا که با یگانگی ، از بند غم رها شویم ، به رغم هر بیگانگی ، من و تو با هم ما شویم
شادا به روزی اینچنین ، چون ما چنین می خواستیم ، آری همین می خواستیم

آری همین می خواستیم

Happy New Persian Year to all my compatriots around the world. May the new year bring "freedom", happiness and peace to Iran and our world
.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Iranian women struggle for equality

BBC News-In the days before International Women's Day, 33 women were arrested in Tehran for peacefully protesting outside a court building. Thirty of them were subsequently released, but warned not to mark the day with protests. Those detained include many of the big names of Iran's women's movement, who are calling for an end to discriminatory laws against women. It is not hard to find women who have been caused great suffering by the law as it stands.

AKI-Women Activists Freed as Teachers' Protests Intensify: Tehran -- All but three of the 33 Iranian women's rights activists jailed on Sunday were freed Wednesday night, on the eve of International Women's Day, in exchange for a pledge not to demonstrate on 8 March. Nevertheless, many of them and other women's rights activists said they would protest in front of parliament in Tehran on Thursday afternoon. Meanwhile also on Thursday, teachers staged their thid strike in a week in front of parliament, demanding salary raises and that thousands of colleagues they say were fired for political reasons be reinstated to their jobs.


Los Angeles Times-Tension Rises in Iran Over Women's Rights: TEHRAN -- Uncommonly high tensions between law enforcement officials and human rights activists ahead of today's annual commemoration of International Women's Day have led to dozens of arrests here in the capital. The commemoration of Women's Day has been a perennial rallying point for those opposed to government policies viewed by human rights activists as sexist or discriminatory. This year, the hard-line government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad detained 33 women activists Sunday at a small protest outside the Revolutionary Court, where five women are on trial for taking part in a July 2006 demonstration against laws seen as discriminatory.


The Christian Science Monitor-Iran Cracks Down on Women's Rights Activists: Women’s groups here have abandoned plans to demonstrate for equal rights on International Women’s Day today, after more than 30 of their colleagues were jailed for protesting on Sunday. But even after that decision, rumors spread by e-mail and cell phone text messages Wednesday night that an ad hoc protest might take place anyway, in front of parliament. Fifteen of the women were released by late Wednesday, and the remainder told family members they were on a hunger strike inside Tehran’s Evin Prison.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Melinda Doolittle, I salute you!

Melinda Doolittle is THE ABSOLUTE singer American Idol has ever had. Her pure rich tone, amazing range and depth and great humbleness are just mind-boggling and unlike most other contestants, she doesn't sing even one single note off-key. Her performance tonight (I Am a Woman) attested once more to the fact that she is just a fantastic singer.

But it was her rendition of "My Funny Valentine" that just blew me away. A performance so stunning that, as someone so rightly commented, truly makes us feel we are in the presence of greatness.

I have watched this grammy-worthy performance over and over again and still can't get my fill of it. I wish I had her record right now! I just feel so bad I can't vote for her from Canada.

Melinda Dolittle, I salute you. You ARE an American Idol.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Iran: Arrests of women activists

March 05, 2007

Amnesty International Press Release

Amnesty International today called for the immediate and unconditional release of over 30 women activists who were arrested on Sunday, 4 March while staging a peaceful demonstration in Tehran. The organization believes the arrests may be intended to deter activists from organizing events to mark International Women's Day on 8 March.

The women were arrested outside Tehran's Revolutionary Court, where they had gathered to protest at the trial of five women charged in connection with a demonstration held on 12 June 2006 to demand that women be given equal rights with men under the law in Iran. The June demonstration was violently dispersed by security forces, who arrested at least 70 people.

Those arrested on Sunday, who included at least four of the five on trial, were taken to the Vozara Department for Social Corruption, a detention centre usually used for people accused of minor crimes, such as violations of the dress code. Family members of those detained are said to have gone to the Vozara Building in an attempt to gain access and secure the release of their relatives, without success. According to reports, all the women were later transferred to Section 209 of Evin Prison, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence and is outside the control of Iran's prison service.

More...

Israel, Iran have most negative image worldwide

BBC-A majority of people believe that Israel and Iran have a mainly negative influence in the world, a poll for the BBC World Service suggests.

It shows that the two countries are closely followed by the United States and North Korea. The poll asked 28,000 in 27 countries to rate a dozen countries plus the European Union in terms of whether they have a positive or negative influence. Canada, Japan and the EU are viewed most positively in the survey.

In January, the BBC World Service revealed polling results that suggested most people think the US has a mainly negative influence in the world - and that the numbers had increased significantly in the last couple of years.

This latest survey, mostly of the same people, confirms those findings.
But it also suggests that two countries are viewed even more negatively - first Israel, and then Iran.

More...

Friday, March 02, 2007

The silence that kills

Another terrific piece by Ny Time's Op-Ed columnist Tom Friedman:

On Feb. 20, The A.P. reported from Afghanistan that a suicide attacker disguised as a health worker blew himself up near “a crowd of about 150 people who had gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open an emergency ward at the main government hospital in the city of Khost.” A few days later, at a Baghdad college, a female Sunni suicide bomber blew herself up amid students who were ready to sit for exams, killing 40 people.

Stop and think for a moment how sick this is. Then stop for another moment and listen to the silence. The Bush team is mute. It says nothing, because it has no moral authority. No one would listen. Mr. Bush is losing a P.R. war to people who blow up emergency wards. Europeans are mute, lost in their delusion that this is all George Bush’s and Tony Blair’s fault.

But worst of all, Muslims, the very people whose future is being killed, are also mute. No surge can work in Iraq unless we have a “moral surge,” a counternihilism strategy that delegitimizes suicide bombers. The most important restraints are cultural, societal and religious. It takes a village — but the Arab-Muslim village today is largely silent. The best are indifferent or intimidated; the worst quietly applaud the Sunnis who kill Shiites.

...Occasionally an honest voice rises, giving you a glimmer of hope that others will stand up. The MEMRI translation Web site (memri.org) just posted a poem called “When,” from a Saudi author, Wajeha al-Huwaider, that was posted on Arab reform sites like www.aafaq.org.

When you cannot find a single garden in your city, but there is a mosque on every corner — you know that you are in an Arab country.

When you see people living in the past with all the trappings of modernity — do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country.

When religion has control over science — you can be sure that you are in an Arab country.

When clerics are referred to as “scholars” — don’t be astonished, you are in an Arab country.

When you see the ruler transformed into a demigod who never dies or relinquishes his power, and nobody is permitted to criticize — do not be too upset, you are in an Arab country.

When you find that the large majority of people oppose freedom and find joy in slavery — do not be too distressed, you are in an Arab country.

When you hear the clerics saying that democracy is heresy, but seizing every opportunity provided by democracy to grab high positions — do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country. ...

When you discover that a woman is worth half of what a man is worth, or less — do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country. ...

When land is more important than human beings — you are in an Arab country. ...

When fear constantly lives in the eyes of the people — you can be certain you are in an Arab country.”