On Friday, I went to a meeting at SOAS. The title of the meeting was the "Future of Democracy in Iran". This in itself intrigued me, it sort of sounded like there is democracy in Iran now and its future is up for discussion. I recognised the name of Ziba Mir-Hosseini in the panelists. Just after the July 99 uprising in Iran, she had facilitated a donation of Â£250,000 from the Islamic Republic to SOAS. In return the university had granted two fellowships, one to the brother of Rahim Safavi, the head of Iran's much feared revolutionary guards. At the same time while according to the Iranian regime's own figures, 2000 students were imprisoned, Ziba Mir-Hosseini also organised a conference in SOAS, commemorating Khomeini's 100th lunar birthday.
The Iranian community responded by holding a demonstration inside the university campus. This was an unprecedented act in the university's history. I also took part in the demo, and I remember how to our delight, several SOAS students, including the SOAS NUS president and a number of the university lecturers joined our ranks. When the representative of the Supreme Leader in London, Ayatollah Araki arrived for the conference, the entire campus erupted in booing and jeering him. The consequences for the university's actions went further. A petition was signed by more than 80 distinguished academics across the world condemning the untimely acceptance of the donation from an anti-student and anti-academic regime.
On this occasion on Friday, apart from Ziba Mir-Hosseini, the other panelists were Elaheh Koolaee, former Iranian MP during Khatami's presidency, Elaheh Rostami from Iran Action and Campaign Against Military Interventionn in Iran and Dr. Ansari from St. Andrews.
I started listening to Elaheh Rostami's speech and soon I realised what the whole thing was about. The panel was trying to convince the British public that there was a flourishing democracy in Iran and it should be left to its own accord to develop. When Elaheh Rostami went further and claimed "It is easier to be critical of the regime inside Iran than outside Iran" I couldn't accept the insult to my intelligence. "How can it be easier to be critical of the regime inside Iran? How can you as an academic say such non-sense?" I shouted from across the room.
Elaheh Rostami who looked nervous and shakyy even before I interrupted her, looked at me nervously and said the format of the meeting will allow me to ask questions at the end of the meeting. I thanked her for the possibility but reminded her if she was there to promote the Islamic Republic, she will not go unchallenged.
My protest encouraged some of the victims of the Islamic Republic in the audience to protest too. A woman who had lost an eye from being whipped repeatedly to the head in Islamic prisons stood up and said in her best English "What democracy are you talking about? I lost my eye in prisons while she was an MP" pointing at Elaheh Koolaee.
Dr. Ansari from the panel threatened to leave the meeting and called a young chap in the audience a donkey. Although he quickly apologised and retracted his remark. I tried to calm everyone but something out of my control happened. A suspicious character that I have seen on previous occasions hurled personal insults at a young Iranian in the audince calling his mother a prostitute. I had previously seen the suspicious character with Massoud Behnood, a self-seeker journalist desperately trying to win favours with the mullahs. I also recognised the chap who was insulted. It was Amir Ghaffari, the son of a prominent Iranian political prisoner, Reza Ghaffari. Amir grew up in Iran, only seeing his father on a handful of occasions during prison visits. His family suffered immensely during the repression of the eighties until they managed to escape Iran. Amir was raging and furious. Once I saw him move towards Behnood's friend, I rushed towards him trying to calm him down. I was trying to explain to Amir what this guy was trying to do. In the melee which followed, the panelists called security and cleverly moved into another room. By the time I had calmed Amir down, the suspicious character had left and Ziba Mir-Hosseini and the university security prevented all those who they could identify in the protest from entering the room, including me.
I felt bad, and thought the meeting's organisers had cleverly outmaneuvered us. The non-Iranian audience there couldn't have worked out what was happening and they may have even thought the guy who enraged Amir was one of us.
However those who managed to stay in the meeting, told us that the panelists failed to convince the audience. "They put women in a sack, bury them up to their waist and stone them to death. What democracy are you on about?" one member of the audience reportedly asked. Another British woman who was recently in Iran, said " I still haven't got over the horrors of what I saw in Iran." The panel had failed miserably despite shutting us out.
So it seems that despite all the clever tactics of promoting the Islamic Republic by holding so-called "academic debates" etc. The days of fooling the Western people by Khatami's smiles and nice words is over. The people now see Islamic Republic for what it is: A reactionary religious dictatorship and a religious apartheid not fit for this century.
How disgusting? You actually tried to sabotage their meeting and you did this because you didn't agree with their opinion?
No Mr. Mohsen (Behnood?)we challenged their stupid suggestion that "it is easier to be critical of the regime in Iran than outside Iran". They then, through a clever set up I explained, made sure we stayed outside the meeting thinking their efforts to promote the Islamic Republic will be unchallenged, but in fact it was not.
Would you let a Nazi promoting Hitler speak unchallenged? or would you protest, Mr. Super Democrat :)
You sort of show your true self by calling people you don't even know Nazis. This could potentially be challenged in a court of law.
Start by learning about ethics of how to conduct and debate before delving into politics and democracy. And btw, in case you don't know, you come across as naive. Reza agrees.
Well I don't know who you and Reza are, but if you want to challenge me in a court of law, then go ahead :))
I can just see the headlines: "An Iranian Dissident is Sued for Asking the Question, would you let a Nazi speak unchallenged or would you protest, in the commentary of a weblog" :)))))
Who is naive now?? Do me a favour, let me know who you and "Reza" are and lets go to court :)))
Unfortunately our country has always had sycophants like you and Reza who want to suck up to those in power.
If you are worried about people breaking up meetings, have a go at the Ansar-e-Hezbollah in Iran, who threw students off the third floor.
I thought you may not understand the point and I was right.
Nowadays every Tom, Dick or Harry wants to become a politicians. Go and do something that that you will be capable of doing. Reza agrees.
No more comments from us.
You and your boyfriend Reza, can go and mind your own business as to what I want to be.
I have seen many arseholes like you who want to promote the Islamic Republic, but are just too shy to be blunt about it.
I make you an offer. Tell me who you and your boyfriend Reza are and I pay your solicitor's fees to take me to court.
I am against the IR but I think you are promoting it by giving the opposition a bad name.
Did you grow up in the slums? If not, why do you use such beautiful language? You and your employer, Antarinejad, have a lot in common, particularly your IQs must be pretty much similar.
Reza says hello and wants to know what your IQ is.
Good for you for giving the "opposition" a "good" name. The opposition that you are talking about has lots of the likes of you and your faggot boyfriend, "Reza" who are too scared to say who they are but waste time leaving anonymous comments around the internet.
My name is Mohsen Bagheri. I will leave it to Reza to introduce himself if he wishes.
You forgot to tell us your IQ. Reza and I have made a bet on your IQ.
I am just amazed that with the help of your boyfriend, Reza, you can spell IQ. Which one of you two has to remember I and which has to remember Q?
Progress is all relative I suppose.
Your haste in reaching for the "Nazi" and "Hitler" metaphors really just shows the poverty of your argument.
Nobody takes those kind of smears seriously anymore, especially not from neocon loons.
I guess everything is relative including intelligence. You probably shine in front of people you usually meet up with.
But in SOAS I guess you were out of your depth. We have a nice saying in Farsi. ...Kabutar baa kabutar, baaz baa baaz ....
Reza says happy xmas.
Well Mohsen & Reza - or shall I call you Mr. & Mrs. now? - All your "academic" friend, Elaheh Rostami- Powy, had to do was answer my question:
"How is it easier to be critical of the Islamic regime inside Iran than outside Iran?"
When you, Elaheh Rostami, Ali Ansari - "Iran Expert who cant read and write Persian and all his predictions come wrong" - can answer my question, then come and leave a comment here.
Meanwhile I too, wish you and Reza a happy xmas where the two of you can remind each other how intillegent you are in front of the fire.
As one of them told you, there was a Q&A session at the end.
Reza thinks you only understand Turkish.
But they didnt let us stay for the Q&A session. So now I am asking you as a couple, "How is it easier to be critical of the regime inside Iran than outside Iran?"
As for me ONLY UNDERSTANDING TURKISH you have just demonstrated your IQ :)
Did I ever say that it is easier to be critical of the regime inside Iran than outside? Reza thinks you are making wrong assumptions about us.
You are really a dummy, aren't you?
Don't be so shallow. Read my entries again and you may understand them. If not use an English to Turkish dictionary.
"Reza thinks you are making wrong assumptions about us."
You remind me of an old movie with James Stewart (I think) - in the film James Stewart had an imaginary rabbit friend no one could see. I can't remember what the rabbit's name was, but the character James Stewart played, very much like you, kept referring to the imaginary rabbit in the same way you refer to "Reza".
I am interested to know if you have any "proof" or evidence of Ziba Mir-Hosseini's financial connections that you speak of between SOAS and the IRI. As an "independent" academic, these things should be critisized and made known. I have not been able to come up with the evidence myself, and thought maybe you have a website or something that would be worth citing as a reference. Thanks for your time.
The fact that Ziba Mir-Hosseini had acted as a facilitator for the donation is open knowledge. She confirmed this with me herself on the phone, and other academics at SOAS who protested at the acceptance of this donation also confirm this.
My IQ is 180. (Roberto Autran Nunes)
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