Friday, October 17, 2014

#EUIranForum - Islamic Republic Needs More PR!

I was following via twitter, the Europe-Iran Forum that was held in Grosvenor Square Hotel in London, over the last couple of days.

Although the claim was that the Forum intended to gain "practical insight from experts" and get "most relevant, up-to-date information from Iran and Europe", the tweets suggested most speakers were painting an unrealistic super rosey picture of the Islamic Republic.

Not once did I see a tweet about how the IRGC are putting a stranglehold on Iran's economy or the rampant corruption that has become so prevalent that it no longer surprises anyone, regardless of its astronomical magnitudes.

Nor did I see any tweets about leading businessmen in Iran frequently becoming escape goats for the country's malaise that so many of them have applied for St. Kitts & Nevis passports to safeguard them against a rainy day.

Nor was there anything about the endemic nepotism in Iran or the huge brain drain from the country or most important of all, the intrinsic animosity and suspiciousness by the Supreme Leader and the hardliners towards anything considered Western. At times it seemed the forum was about a different country altogether.

To cap this all, the selectiveness of the Forum organisers in which press organisations could attend the Forum did not help to inspire confidence. WSJ and TehranBureau for example were barred from attending the event, while Press TV, IRNA and IRIB [Iran state TV channels] were warmly welcomed to report from the conference.

But the one tweet I saw from Dina Esfandiary of IISS, made me laugh most:

So its the lack of PR that's the problem?! How much more spin is needed by these network of lackeys and lobbyists to make a backward theocracy and a religious apartheid that is run by a mafia economy to look like a normal country?

At the same time that the forum was going on and the attendees were being dazzled with the bright horizons ahead, the British-Iranian Ghoncheh Ghavami who went back to Iran after voting for Rouhani and was arrested when trying to go and watch a volleyball match, was tried behind closed doors charged with "propaganda against the regime". Not once since her arrest, has she been able to see her lawyer.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Mistranslation that Saved the Day in the UN General Assembly

A huge embarrassment of monumental proportions was avoided at the UN General Assembly on Friday, when the translator of Rouhani's speech, conveniently mistranslated the derogatory Persian word of "Zangi" used to describe black people in a negative way, simply as "madman"!

Right after Rouhani blamed the terrorism and anti-Western feelings in the region today as a reaction to the racism of the West, he went on to say "Certain Intelligence agencies have put the blade in the hand of the drunken Zangi" but the "drunken Zangi" was simply translated as "Madman" by the UN translator. [see 3:59 video below]

"Zangi" is actually a Persian derogatory word used in a negative way to describe black people. It refers to the black slaves from Zanzibar and East Africa. This expression has its origin in Rumi's Mathnavi (book 4, section 53*). A verbatim translation of Rumi's verse is "It is better to put a sword in the hand of an intoxicated negro than "that knowledge" should fall to a worthless fool.“

I can just imagine how the East African delegations and in particular, the members of the Zanzibar delegation in the UN would have reacted, had they understood fully well what Rouhani was referring to! The translator definitely saved the day and avoided a huge diplomatic egg on the face for Rouhani.

In the past,  Mohammad Javad Larijani, the head of the Human Rights Council in the Islamic Republic used the nearest thing to the "N" word in Persian, i.e. Kaka Siah, to demean the US president, Barack Obama.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Special Ray Produced by Men That Makes Women Age Quickly

On the same day that the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hasan Rouhani, was portraying his regime as a beacon of moderation and progress in the region, the following program was broadcast from Iran State TV:

The program guest and her daughter were shown wearing the full neghab and in order to convince other Iranian women to do the same, they justified the benefits of wearing a neghab by saying that “recent scientific medical progress has proved men’s eyes produce a special ray which when encounters a woman’s face, causes early ageing of the woman’s face”

So there you go, if women want to look young, they should forget all other cosmetic advice and fully cover their face. May I also add that to further prolong their youthful looks, they should ask their husband to wear a blindfold.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Epic Documentary on the 1979 Revolution in Iran

I have a five year old son whose thoughtful and profound questions often startle me. One such occasion was when I was walking with him to his school and as I was holding his hand, he totally rattled me when out of the blue, he asked me the following question:
"Daddy, you know when the baddies came to your old country, why didn't you stay behind and fight them?"

Not expecting to be asked such a question on my daily walk with him to school, I lamented with a lump in my throat and with some shame "They were too strong, we didn't think we had a chance of winning against them". As usual however, giving him an answer resulted in a follow up question from him "But if all the people got together then they could beat the baddies couldn't they?"
I replied with the bitter truth "But most of the people were with the baddies at the time"
"They were tricked"
His last question was the hardest question to answer. How could I possibly begin to explain to a five year old, the intriguing plot by the Leftists and Islamists which was helped by a regime that was taken over by sycophants who were eager to say "Yes, Sir!" but had no stomach to take on such a powerful adversary? Where would I begin to explain a 25 year plan by Soviet influence agents in Iran that was so expertly executed to coerce a whole nation to lead themselves into the abyss?

I am hoping however that one day my son will grow up and be able to watch a five part documentary on the 1979 revolution in Iran which was aired this week from Manoto TV. The ten hour long documentary which has captivated the people in Iran finally tells the truth about the 1979 revolution with some amazing archive footage not shown until now and an in-depth research that took over a year.

The documentary is not dubbed or subtitled into English yet, but I hope it will be in the near future. It is just as important for non-Iranians to watch this and I hope it will answer my boy's questions too.

[Episode 1] :
[Episode 2] :
[Episode 3] :
[Episode 4] :
[Episode 5] :

Friday, September 05, 2014

Ghoncheh Ghavami Imprisoned After Trying to Watch Iran Play Volleyball

On 20th June this year, Ghoncheh Ghavami had gone along to watch Iran's national volleyball team play against the Italian side. In any normal country, this would have been a joyous event, but in Iran for Ghoncheh and other women it carried a risk. Women are not allowed to enter sports stadiums in Iran and watch men play sports like football or volleyball.

Ghoncheh and some other women, who had seen this as an opportunity to protest against this discrimination against Iranian women, were arrested. They were later released on the same day after signing a pledge not to engage in such actions again. Their personal belongings however were kept by the security forces for further examination.

Ten days later, Ghonche went to collect her personal belongings but was arrested again.  Security agents then searched her house and collected more of her belongings. Ghoncheh was transferred to the notorious Evin prison and spent 41 days in solitary confinement. Although her interrogation is reportedly now finished, they have extended her detention by another 2 months.

Her family until now had decided not to publicise her arrest, thinking that it would further harm her case and she would be released after a brief period. Since yesterday however, the opposition site Kalameh, published her arrest and continuous detention.

I knew Ghoncheh from London. She had dual British-Iranian citizenship. Ghoncheh in Persian means bud and she had lips that immediately reminded you of a red rose bud. She told me once, when she was born, as soon as her father saw her lips, he decided he could only call her Ghoncheh.

As attractive as she was, Ghoncheh was extremely and frustratingly naive when it came to Iran politics. I remember having endless arguments with her about the new administration in Iran. Ghoncheh was delighted with the election of Rouhani, as the new president of Iran. She was convinced that Rouhani was the right man to set the catastrophes of the past 8 years right and lead Iran into the future. My continuous advice to her that this was just a window dressing for the outside world and inside Iran, it will be business as usual, did not resonate with her.

I remember explaining to her that every Iranian presidency repeats the same pattern on three fronts:
1- They all start with magnificent slogans and promises
2- They all blame the previous administration for all the ills and shortcomings in Iran
3- They all continue to blame their rivals are putting the spanners in the wheels and preventing them from setting things right.
And so they keep on stringing along the new generation of voters.

But again, sharing my experience with this young naive 25 year old was to no avail. She decided not to listen to my advice and to go back to Iran, thinking she can better support Rouhani's government from inside Iran.

I was last due to see Ghoncheh on the opening night of the movie, King of Sands, made by the Syrian director, Najdat Anzour. I had two extra tickets for Ghonche and her friend but they could not make it and I never saw her again. I was not aware she had gone back to Iran and did not know she was a prisoner until yesterday.

I could say she was a victim of her own naivety but I could also say that at least, unlike many other Iranian asylum seekers who are promoting the Iranian regime while being paid benefits by the UK government, she went back to help the person she believed was the right man to save Iran. It will be a painful lesson for her, but perhaps her plight will open some other eyes.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Gift to Ban Ki-Moon that Was Misappropriated

Hand woven Persian carpets have long been a quintesential Iranian gift. Some of these hand woven carpet gifts, like the one made by the Tabriz weavers with the picture of the American Howard Baskerville,  have occupied a permanent place in Iran’s recent history.

Howard Baskerville was an American teacher in the Presbyterian Missionary School in Tabriz , who was killed fighting alongside Iranian freedom fighters during Iran’s Constitutional Revolution in 1909. Tabriz weavers then made a carpet with Howard Baskerville’s face in recognition of his courage and sacrifice as a special gift to Baskerville’s mother.

It looks like the hand woven silk carpet gift, given to the UN General Secretary, Ban Ki-Moon,  by Ahamdinejad, will also occupy a place in the Iranian history, although for much less noble reasons as the one that was made for Howard Baskerville.

Ahmadinejad presented the carpet gift, shown in the above picture, to Ban Ki-Moon, three years ago. The carpet displayed a woven map of Iran with the words of the unofficial Iranian national anthem above it. Ahamdinejad presented this gift as “A symbol of Iran’s culture, civilisation, peace and friendship to the General Secretary of the United Nations”.

Now, three years later, it turns out the carpet was never Ahmadinejad’s to give as a gift to anyone in the first place. The carpet belongs to an Iranian businessman, Asghar Taslimi, from Isfahan, who had left the piece with the National Iranian Carpet Centre as a demo sample, so he could get  approval for a loan to mass produce that design.  Taslimi was told to go back to Isfahan and someone would contact him with an answer, but no one ever did. His efforts to have his demo sample returned to him were to no avail either and he was passed from one department to another. Taslimi had given up on ever seeing his carpet again, until one day; his family phoned him and said they had just seen the sample he had left with the National Iranian Carpet Centre,  on the state television news, being presented to Ban Ki-Moon by Ahmadinejad, in New York!

The Iranian businessman swears he was never paid for the carpet nor did he ever give consent for his sample to be given to anyone as a present, and so technically the General Secretary of UN, Ban Ki-Moon is now in possession of stolen goods.

The Carpet Woven in Honour of Howard Baskerville

Monday, August 18, 2014

Riding on the Waves of the Success of Iran's Female Mathematician

Rouhani's PR savvy team who update his tweets, came up with another master tweet in English to gloss over his international image outside Iran. In this tweet shown on the left, not only Rouhani congratulates the Iranian mathematician for being the first ever female to win the mathematics Fields Medal, but also places a picture of Maryam Mirzakhani without the mandatory hejab that she would have to wear if she still lived in Iran; hence inducing the idea of a moderate Iranian president that the Western media is so fond of believing.

The truth however is that had Maryam Mirzakhani stayed in Iran, like many other Iranians, not only she would not have had the opportunity to excel in what she is good at, but she would have been treated as a second class citizen for being a woman. Her success is partly due to her decision to leave Iran and the opportunities that living in a free country has brought her way. Many of Iran's elite brainiacs decide to leave Iran, in what has become known as Iran's brain drain.

Thirty four years ago, the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, made a prologue to Iran's so-called "Cultural Revolution" catastrophe, by saying:
"They keep talking about a brain drain, to hell with them leaving. Let these educated people who constantly talk of science and Western civilisation leave, These hypocrites say there is a brain drain. Let them go. We don't need this kind of Western science and civilisation"

Maryam Mirzakhani was fortunate to be able to leave Iran, she was also lucky to survive a bus crash that killed seven of Iran's elite mathematics pupils in February 1997.

Maryam Mirzakhani is seen in this photograph below, taken two years before the fatal crash, with other Iranian elite brainiac pupils. She is the third from the right in the front row.

And below is a brief tragic tale of what has happened to some of the other Iranian elite pupils and geniuses who were unfortunate not to be able to leave Iran:

Foad Sojoodi Farimani - a PhD student at Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran. He registered two inventions, both related to robotic surgery, was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to eight years in prison, for insulting Islam, "acting against national security" and insulting Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei

Mitra Aali - Bio-Material graduate from Sharif university, who had come 7th in the national university entrance exams, was arrested in 2009.

Omid Kokbai - won the physics olympiad in Iran, arrested as he was about to leave Iran, now serving a 10 year sentence.

Ali Akbar Mohamadzadeh - Also a Sharif university graduate sentenced to 6 years in 2009

Amin Niayifar - Also one of the elite pupils who graduated from Tehran Technical university in Mechanical Engineering, was flogged for insulting Iran's officials.

Arman Rezakhani - winner of the national Mathematics olympiad, also arrested in 2009. Now studying computer engineering in Texas university.

Soroush Sabet, winner of a bronze medal in the Computing Olympiad and a silver medal in the Mathematics Olympiad, was sentenced to two years prison in 2009.

Maryam Mirzakhani's husband is not Iranian, he is from the Czech Republic. Their 3 year old daughter, Anahita, therefore can not get a visa to travel to Iran, unless Mirzakhani's husband officially converts to Islam. According to the laws of the Islamic Republic, the marriage between a Muslim woman with a non-Muslim woman is not officially recognised.

And this is how Maryam Mirzakhani's picture was published in the Iranian newspapers to avoid the Hejab problem, her head was merged into the blackboard, so the faithful don't get tempted by seeing her hair!