Saturday, May 24, 2003

Yesterday I went to Darakeh again. The mountains were full of basiji wearing keffiyehs, and women in chadors. Some had green, red and white headbands. People were giving out free saffron drinks, and later free zam-e-zam soft drinks. The reason behind all these strange events was the commemoration of 3rd Khordad 1361/24th May 1982, the victory at Khorramshahr. There are lots of cloth murals up again.

I played some chess there... there was one interesting position, which I should convert to a jpg file in keeping with the new graphic style here!

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Iran denies accusations about al-Qaeda. The interesting point about the Guardian article was that it mentioned European diplomats also say al-Qaida is in Iran. Also an Arab newspaper is quoted saying Saad bin Laden is there.

The pictures below are of chelo-kebab at the ali baba restaurant. They are for Mr Plate but anyone else is welcome to look and salivate :-)

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Khatami won't resign. I told you this was a "game", didn't I?

"The administration of Mr. Khatami is very hopeful about the future of economic, social and cultural progress and thus the issue of resignation is out of the question."

Yes, everyone I meet is just so full of optimism! They are skipping and bouncing along the street, as money flitters out from their pockets! But they are making so much, it isn't worth their time to stop and pick it up! Happy happy joy joy!

"The future of the regime is very bright." Good good good. The problems are all in your mind! Just keep being happy and everything will be OK!

I intended to write about Iran's forex rate, it seems artificial... here is the first article I found.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Roya on I Believe That wrote about how annoying it is to go to university and have your clothes examined every time you go in, and that Larijanivision had a documentary concluding the problem was with women. Let's look at today's news, and see if men are responsible for any problems in Iranian society.

"Dishonored" truck driver beheads niece in public. I need to step outside myself, and be as objective as possible - is this an "Islamic" or "Middle Eastern" problem? Because I haven't heard about this kind of thing happening outside of these two "cultures" - whereever in the world it happens, there always seems to be some kind of "Islamic" or "Middle Eastern" connection. And another thing - it's always the MALE who's doing it, I've never heard of a story where an aunt/mother cut off her son's head because he was dating or had sex. You can tell me I'm wrong in the comments, if you think I'm wrong. That is, you can say it's just a problem of patriarchy, and certain cultures are backward in these areas. I have been thinking along these lines for a while - when women become emancipated, they have fewer children, and so patriarchal cultures are invariably dominant. I haven't read this idea anywhere, but I'm sure it's been discussed.

After more searching... "Honor killing is an Islamic duty" says the Islamic Action Front of Jordan; what is the Islamic view of honor killing?; "honor killing does not exist in Islamic law"; Anakultur "...organizes 8th of March celebrations in the most remote parts of the region [southeast Turkey] during the minimum of 2 hours celebration programme we talk to both to fathers, husbands, brothers and to the local authorities individually. Trying to explain to them that this practice of honour killing has nothing to do with the religion." So while the murderers and their supporters use Islam to justify honor killings, the majority who are horrified by such killings say Islam has nothing to do with it.

Once, the New York Times interviewed Molla Hassani (an ultra-conservative from Orumiyeh in the NE of Iran) and the journalist noticed that he was obsessed with stoning as a punishment for WOMEN, but never mentioned it once as a punishment for MEN. How can this be? On the one hand, Khamenei condemns honor killings, but on the other hand, this is the land of virginity testing and stoning to death for adultery.

On Sunday night I went to Chelo Kebab Ali Baba, immediately north of Vali-Asr Square. If you want to get away from people, this is a good place to go, because it has been practically empty every time I have been there. Remember that Tehran is like New York with 60 million people. (So why isn't the restaurant popular with young people, and how do they make money with no customers?) On the wall instead of pictures of Khomeini and Khamenei there are pictures of Khomeini and Taleghani. The decor and the pictures have not changed since 1979; in the West it would be promoted as "retro".

Aghdasieh Restaurant is also good. You can buy bread there without standing in line... the reason I'm going to so many restaurants is that while I was in the US, the power failed in my flat (for two months) and everything in my fridge died. I'm still trying to get rid of the smell!

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Last Thursday I went to Darabad with a professor and a student visiting from the Netherlands. Because we went the wrong way at first, the way became difficult and my companions became fearful of walking across a sheer dirt slope. I was wearing bad shoes, with smooth soles, but I got to the other side and took amusing pictures of them with my new digital camera! On the way back I talked to the professor about a conference he and I are going to in the UK next month. The professor said recently he was talking to a woman who said getting a visa was easy! He said, "What time did you arrive at the British embassy?" and she said 5am! This seems perfectly normal in Iran, some people had stayed overnight!

Complaining is quite usual of course, this post was inspired by recent stories on Face It about how humiliating it is to obtain a visa, and the sort of humiliation Tehran airport officials put Iranians through. OK. So, I said to the professor, "Let me tell you what it is like to be in the British Embassy. Many diplomats live inside the compound. One day, after Friday prayers, the ansar-e-hizbollah (thugs who Mr Janati pays) turn up and throw bricks at your house, breaking all the windows. Then, they start throwing Molotov cocktails, eggs, tomatos etcetera. This happens very often for a period of several weeks. Another day, someone drives a pick-up truck full of gas cylinders into the wall of your house, killing himself, and then people start handing out leaflets saying he was a shahid/suicide bomber. Remember, it is a diplomatic compound, this is like an attack on the UK itself. And now you are asking why they treat Iranians so badly???" And he said, "but what if you are a head of department at a famous university (like he was) and have been to this same conference four times before? I will ring them to get an appointment and if they don't give me a reasonable time for an appointment then I won't go!" He has obviously developed ways of dealing with the stress in Iran under IRI (and he doesn't have economic problems), but the people like the ones on the Face It blog are desperate to get out, what can they do?

In passing: Mr Zarif doesn't realise that attacks on embassies are attacks on the territory of that country either. (from smccdi).

``M. Javad Zarif, Iran's United Nations ambassador, says Iran "has not invaded any neighboring country" for two centuries.

Since it is international law that a foreign embassy is the sovereign soil of the country represented, the Iranian invasion and hostage-taking of American diplomats from November 1979 to January 1981 stands in stark contrast to Mr. Zarif's assertion.''

The real saving private Lynch (from Face It) it's old but really interesting, I had to link to it.