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.