Currently Browsing

Posts Tagged ‘ Tehran ’

  • 25 February 2013
  • Posted By Sina Toossi
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy

Iran and the U.S. meet on the wrestling mat in Tehran

In an atmosphere of heavy sanctions and talk of war, wrestlers from around the world have come to Tehran to participate in the annual Wrestling World Cup. The event, which changes venues every year, has brought together wresting teams from countries not typically known for close ties, such as the U.S., Cuba, Russia, and Iran.

The advent of such kinds of sport exchanges between Iran and the U.S. actually hearkens back to the era of former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. Khatami sought to foster such exchanges based on his advocacy of “people to people contact between the two nations to break the ice.” Perhaps initially a genuine effort to mimic the “ping-pong” diplomacy between the United and China that paved the way for President Nixon to visit Beijing, this initiative took off with the U.S. wrestling team making a landmark trip to Tehran in 1998. Indeed, this recent trip to the Wrestling World Cup by Team USA marked its tenth visit to Iran in the past decade. Since the late 1990s, various athletes from a variety of different sports have travelled between the two countries. A further sports exchange program between Iran and the US launched in 2007 has seen the U.S. send more than 30 athletes to Iran and more than 75 Iranian athletes and coaches visit the United States.

  • 13 July 2012
  • Posted By Milad Jokar
  • 4 Comments
  • discrimination, Events in Iran, Nuclear file, Sanctions

Why Iran’s Hardliners Love the iPhone and McDonalds Sanctions

Iran's Mash Donalds (Mash refers to Mashhadi or Mashtee--someone who has made the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mashhad)

If you’re an Iranian who wants to get the latest iPhone, iPad or Macbook, it may just be easier for you to purchase one in Iran than in the U.S.

Apple Store in Sa’dat Abad, Tehran

New pressures to “tighten the noose” on Iran through sanctions have indeed led to discrimination against Persian-speakers at Apple Stores.  One has to wonder how banning Iranians from having access to iPods on which they can listen to Rihanna’s latest hit (yes, Rihanna’s latest hit is available in Iran) will “change Iran’s behavior” concerning its uranium enrichment program.

But despite the sanctions and the draconian ways they’re being enforced, in Iran, iPhones are everywhere.  And the way they get to Iran, far from “squeezing the regime” actually benefits smugglers linked to the state and the IRGC (Revolutionary Guard).

To purchase the latest Apple products, Iranians just have to go to their local “Apple Store” in Iran. They can choose their items online or in person, and can definitely speak Farsi when purchasing an iPad without worrying about whether the salesperson will take their money.

Indeed, everything is available in Iran for a price. Many Iranians still walk down Africa Street, known as Jordan Street  before the revolution, in their Air Jordans, gel in their hair, while perusing DVDs of the latest Hollywood movies starring Will Smith, Matt Demon or Angelina Jolie on display by street vendors.

The Colonel in Iran serves "Kabaaby" Fried Chicken

U.S. sanctions also prohibit U.S. fast food companies from opening in Iran. It is unclear what is the logic of banning McDonalds in Iran and how denying Iranians the pleasures of true American junk food will stop Iran’s nuclear program.  And yet, while it’s always nice to enjoy a good khoreshte bamie or ghorme sabzi, Iranians can still skip rice and go to a good KFC (kabaaby Fried Chicken), Mash Donald’s (Mash refers to one who has made the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mashhad) or simply grab a coffee at Raees—featuring a mustachioed version of Starbucks mermaid—on Seoul Street in Tehran.

Because of sanctions, most of these stores are knockoffs. However, all the soft drinks, clothes,
phones and other electronic devices are authentic. These goods come into Iran through Dubai, Iraq, and the shores of the Persian Gulf, and supply the Iranian Bazaari (merchants and shop keepers) who sell these items openly in their stores.

  • 18 April 2012
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Human Rights in Iran, Neo-Con Agenda, Nuclear file

Washington and Tehran’s Vicious Spin Cycle

The crux of negotiations between the U.S. and Iran is that, at some point, in order to succeed, each side will have to take a deep breath and shake hands on a deal. But thirty years of mutual demonization and fear mongering, means it takes serious political courage to come to the table, and even more courage—and a major investment of political capital—to actually accept a deal and sell it at home.

One way each side builds such political capital is to spin the talks as favoring the home team. This zero-sum approach—building capital at the expense of the other side—is dangerous and can create a precarious back and forth.

After modest success in Istanbul this past weekend, we’re seeing this back and forth play out as the sides prepare for the next round of talks in five weeks in Baghdad. Tehran has portrayed Washington as having softened its position and backed down from previous demands—particularly on the issue of whether Iran has the right to enrichment.

As Robert Wright speculates in the Atlantic, “If Iran’s leadership thinks it may do a deal with a government it has long framed as the great Satan, it needs to tell the Iranian people that it’s bringing Satan to his knees.” He points out that, as Tehran spins one way to build domestic support and to perhaps insulate the negotiations from political backlash at home, the opposite happens among opportunists in the U.S.

The Washington Times, for instance, takes Fars News at its word that the U.S. is granting Iran concessions, seizing on Tehran’s domestic spin to attack the talks. The very same groups that dismiss positive news like Khamenei’s fatwah against nuclear weapons as religious dissembling are, ironically, the most eager to treat Iran’s anti-U.S. spin as gospel–so long as it can be used to attack the Obama Administration’s diplomacy.

For its part, the U.S. is doing the exact same kind of spinning. In Haaretz yesterday, an unnamed U.S. official pushed back against criticism from Bibi Netanyahu that the Istanbul talks were a “freebie” for Tehran. Such an attack from Netanyahu–delivered with Senator Joe Lieberman at the Prime Minister’s side–is politically damaging for the White House and for the talks. Bibi may not technically be a domestic political opponent of the President, but nobody has bothered telling that to Congress.

  • 8 September 2011
  • Posted By Parisa Saranj
  • 1 Comments
  • Culture

Cultures of Resistance: Spotlight on Iranian Artists

Almost every day, news and media cover politics or policy related topics on Iran with a concrete agenda. Behind this coverage, however, there is another voice desperate to be heard. It’s the voice of Iranian artists representing ordinary Iranian citizens. Trying not to be overshadowed by the common misconceptions about Iran, it is not easy to earn a forum for displaying their arts.

Fortunately, many non-Iranian activists who have noticed this phenomenon are turning their interests toward some groundbreaking Iranian artists. One  such group is Cultures of Resistance (CoR) an activist network using documentary and film as an outreach tool to promote peace and global justice.

Two short films featured on the CoR website deserve special attention, for they examine more underground and lesser known artists.

Tehran Ratz: Graffiti For a New Iran” takes a look at the works of two young Tehrani graffiti artists who challenge not only the ideologies of the Iranian government, but also question the broader understanding of issues such as peace and justice. While their work is “Iranian” in terms of using exclusively Iranian topics or cultural beliefs and figures, the universality of their painting is evident. This is a notable characteristic of the short film – it uses vivid images of graffiti to show the artists’ awareness of the social issues affecting their lives.  In this case, images prove to be more powerful than words.

The film exposes the audience to complex topics that the artists cover, such as gender inequalities, injustice in the legal system, and even war and death. Thus, forcing the viewer to go back and watch it over and over, asking more and more questions and wondering how the youth of a distant culture could produce an art comprehensive for people of all backgrounds.

Tehran Ratz: Graffiti for a New Iran from Cultures of Resistance on Vimeo.

The second short film (and my personal favorite) is called “Iran Inside Out: Explorations at the Chelsea Art Museum.” It looks at five different exhibits displaying the art of Iranian artists residing both inside and outside of Iran.  Even though it might just seem like a twelve-minute report on an art exhibition, the short film delves into a much deeper message about how Iranian people want to be portrayed as “human beings’ interested in peace, art, solidarity, and globalization than “oppressed people” or even characterized as the “axis of evil.”

Iran Inside Out: Explorations at the Chelsea Art Museum from Cultures of Resistance on Vimeo.

Given the fact that the Iranian regime heavily controls art and frames every social concept within an Islamic ideology, the bold and controversial topics such as sexuality, ideas of femininity/masculinity, hijab, body image and even clash of generations covered by Iranian artists at times make it impossible to distinguish between the arts coming out of Iran and those produced in America and Europe.

One might argue that art should not be political. However, these short films prove otherwise.  The reason is that ordinary Iranian citizens are constantly being influenced and monitored by an oppressive regime, leaving no choice for artists but to overtly produce censored art and covertly produce art full of political notions, activism, and hope.

Finally, what these Iranian artists and Cultures of Resistance activists have in common is the relentless questioning of assumptions and challenging of the stereotypes whether it is in Iran against its government or on the international level against the preconceived ideas about a particular country or a global issue.  And for a time when a non-violent democratic movement is the only option for the Iranian youth, what better tool than art to carry the cries of a nation for democracy?

  • 19 October 2010
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Sanctions

Obama Shifts, Iranians Seethe

The Washington Post reported on Sunday that the Obama Administration is using sanctions to prevent Iranian civilian flights from refueling in Europe—flights that serve as “the main lifeline for Iranians with the outside world.”

This draconian step is particularly troubling since it is coming from an Administration that claimed to understand that isolating the Iranian people could “risk alienating parts of the population with which the West seeks to establish common cause”, and from a President who committed to “a more hopeful future for the Iranian people” through increased student exchanges.

But the Post explains how the Administration is working to divert and ground Iran Air flights by pressing oil companies in Europe not to refuel civilian flights.  This is a deliberate effort, according to one source in contact with the Administration, who asserts, “Be sure, the Obama administration is fully aware of the situation Iran Air is in.”

Thomas Erdbrink writes:

[The new sanctions effort] illustrates a shift away from an earlier U.S. policy of reaching out to the Iranian people and trying to target mostly state organizations central to Iran’s nuclear program. Officials now admit that the increased pressure is hurting ordinary Iranians but say they should blame their leaders for the Islamic republic’s increasing isolation.

But Erdbrink quotes a passenger on a diverted flight who takes exception:

“What do we have to do with our government?” an Iranian man asked loudly, after discovering to his surprise that the plane had landed on the Vienna tarmac. “We are becoming prisoners because of these disagreements between Iran and America.”

  • 7 January 2010
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 16 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran

“Shahram, your blood was unjustly shed!”

Shahram Farajzadeh Tarani was run over by a police car during Dec 27 Ashura protests.

To the world, he is the man that was brutally run over a police car during Ashura’s protests, but to his family, he is Shahram.

Abbas (Shahram) Farajzadeh Tarani was thirty-years old when a police car  backed into him and then ran over him again, killing him on Dec. 27. His death was captured by fellow protesters by this thirty second youtube video. He worked in a paint factory and leaves behind his wife and five year-old daughter.  Like many of those martyred during the post-election unrest, the Iranian government has done its best to stop the impact of his death.

As was told to us by a third-party source, after he was hit, fellow protesters and one relative took his body to the hospital. But, when his family arrived at the hospital, his body was missing.  Shortly thereafter, government officials called his brother to tell him that Shahram’s body was being buried in Behesht Zahra, the main cemetery in Tehran.

When the brother arrived, he was faced with four intelligence officers and they warned him not to cause a scene. His family was told they were not allowed to hang up the traditional black cloths on his home or his office to notify friends of his death. The government had taken the liberty of washing his body and wrapping it in a white cloth, both of which are important rite in Iranian mourning process normally overseen by close friends and relatives, and then, in proper tradition, wrapped him in a white cloth. They were allowed to see the body for a moment and noticed that he was covered in stitches.

After burying the body, families normally hold a ceremony at a mosque on the third day of the person’s death. But for the Farajzadeh Taranis, each mosque they approached refused them.  Apparently the government had threatened the mosques and forbade them from hosting the ceremony.

Like many families who have lost their relatives to the post-election upheaval, Shahram’s family was forced to quietly mourn for him in their home, in fact, his brother had to sign an agreement saying he would not have a public ceremony.

As if the Iranian intelligence community does monitor its citizens’ behavior enough, four intelligent officers oversaw the Shahram’s ceremony at his family’s home. Men filled one room and women the other, all the while, Shahram’s father kept crying out, “Shahram, your blood was unjustly shed!”

Two days ago, on Monday, a week after his death, the Farajzadeh Tarani’s were allowed to mourn the seventh day since Shahram’s death at a mosque. Normally families print out flyers and paste them outside the mosque or near their work places, but once again, they were denied this basic custom. Instead they printed flyers themselves and handed them out to friends who seemed to be unaware of their son’s death. Traditionally, on the top of these flyers is a line of poetry, and his reads, “From every death, rises some sadness, but there are differences between death and death.”

“I feel he died in vain,” expressed one of Shahram’s relatives to our third-party source.  So the responsibility once again falls to outside media and Iranian citizen journalism to ensure the world remembers Shahram’s fight for freedom.

  • 29 December 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 15 Comments
  • Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

More Footage from Ashura: Peaceful Protesters Attacked

This moving video, also posted on Mir Hossein Moussavi and Zahra Rahnavard’s Facebook page shows hundreds of protesters in the streets on Tehran on Ashura. Amidst peace signs, chants of “Ya, Hossein! Mir Hossein!” “Death the the dictator!” and “Don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid! We are all together!” security forces attack with batons and one can hear shots of what seem to be tear gas bullets, although security forces did shoot and kill several people captured on other videos during Sunday’s protesters.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7nkELbZ9fc]

  • 27 December 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 6 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Hundreds arrested & the face of Ashura

Government forces have shown no mercy today as they have arrested any and everyone in sight–from typical young protesters to 80 year-old grandmothers at the University of Tehran. What they will do with all of those arrested is unknown as space is probably limited. A police officer who spoke to a young protester today, said that protesters have burned at least 56 police vehicles in his county alone. The protester also said that he heard about 400 people alone have been arrested.

This video shows  protesters surrounding and burning a police vehicle.  [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOiehHxjZRM&feature=player_embedded]

The following video from today posted on Facebook shows protesters holding up a Basij helmet, almost as a symbol of victory.

Also, numerous graphic photos have almost emerged, showing bloodied men and women. This graphic picture (update: apparently unavailable now) shows a young girl who, despite her face bloodied face seems very calm. Many are already calling her the face of Ashura.

  • 30 August 2009
  • Posted By Michelle Moghtader
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in Iran

Green Trio Forced to Cancel Iftar Ceremony

According to Zahra Rahnavard’s Facebook page, Mousavi, Khatami, and Karroubi were forced to call off their Iftar ceremony because of crowds gathering outside the Amir Almomenin Mosque in Tehran. Iftar refers to the evening meal when Muslims break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan. The video shows small crowds chanting “Ya Hossein! Mir Hossein!” and “Coup d’etat govenment, resign! Resign!”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVXS9ttAcIE]

  • 27 July 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 1 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009

“State TV, Shame on You!” Chant Iranians

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WR_23Aijb4Q]

July 25 in Tehran: Iranians took to the streets and with a new chant, “State TV, shame on you!” followed by “Honorable Iranians, support us!”

Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

[signature]

Share this with your friends: