Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Door to Iranian dialogue creaks open

Khatami's Speech in Harvard

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Letter to America

Ganji has published an article in Washington Post where he invites USA and Iran to direct talk.

I think it is great to see such a proposition.We should not forget during Iran Gate, these two countries have been engaged in direct talk. USA wanted hostages in Lebanon and Iran bought weapons.If you read USA Congress report on Iran GAte you realise things could move further between two countries but.....

Monday, September 25, 2006

Imagining Ourselves/ Submit your Photos

What defines your generation of women? For the past few years, our team has been in touch with hundreds of thousands of young women around the world, asking them this very question.Read More

A Wallace Interview in 1974, guess with who?

His interview with Ahmdinejad was not that good but what is about this one. Click Here, History is waiting for u.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Washington Post: A Virtual Dialogue Between Iran-US

Washington Post:Proximity talks" is the phrase diplomats sometimes use to describe the process of indirect signaling and negotiation that takes place when two parties aren't actually talking. That's what has been happening over the past few weeks with the United States and Iran, and it has been an intriguing -- if somewhat opaque -- process for journalists like me to watch. Where is this non-negotiation leading? That's anybody's guess. But I can at least suggest some useful background reading, as we take our seats for the main event. And I'm looking forward to suggestions from Iranian bloggers about how to understand what's happening....

Join the dialogue and read comments.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Uncovering Iran

BBC takes a fascinating look at life for Iranian Jewish Community

Global Voices wins $10,000 Knight-Batten Innovations Award

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Global Voices Online, a web site about how news affects daily life and conversations in more than 130 countries, is this year's $10,000 Grand Prize winner in the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism.

The site uses skilled multilingual editors to find and publish thoughtful or entertaining bloggers who discuss what people are talking about in a given country. Blogs are organized by country and by topics. Global Voices Online also uses podcasts to inform readers and start conversations.

"It's an extraordinary site that allows for both editorial gatekeeping and wide access to news and information from underreported parts of the world," said the panel of judges.

The judges also credited the project and its corps of bloggers with helping to elevate standards in the blogosphere. Global Voices is sponsored by Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Oil Giant Total wants no Sanctions against Iran

According to Le Monde, Total does its lobbying to persuade French government not to back any sanctions against Iran.

Total followed same starategy in Saddam's Iraq.

The NewYork Times & Ahmadinejad

American Thinker:....Another aspect of Ahmadinejad’s leadership style that appeals to the New York Times is his economic populism. The article quotes Ahmadinejad as saying that “parliament and government should fight against wealthy officials,” who “should not have influence over senior officials” and who “should not impose their demands on the needs of the poor people.” As for the poor people, Ahmadinejad “promises to improve the lives of the poor” by forcing banks to lower interest rates, offering inexpensive housing loans, promoting “development projects” throughout the country, and trying to inject oil revenue into the economy.

Naser Zarafshan won a scholarship in Sweden

Human right activist, writer and lawyer won a scholarship in Sweden. He can go to Sweden for a year now.This prize is given to him for his suffering as a writer and so on.

Zarafshan is a great human right activist who had been jailed for his ideas. Zarafshan recently called Fakhravar, so proclaimed student leader( NeoCons darling)a very suspicious case. He also mentioned he created a lot of trouble for political prisoners in Iran and had never sent to prison for political activities.

Dutch Money for Regime Change in Iran, this time is in Euro!

According NRC HandelsBlad:Jennifer Windsor, director of Freedom House in the US has confirmed that
it received EUR 630.000 this year from the Dutch ministry of Foreign
Affairs. The Dutch money is meant to be used to set up a web platform
www.goozarorg for members of the Iranian opposition. The newspaper notes
that Freedom House absolutely opposes religious dictatorships such as that
in Iran. NRC also notes that an Iranian satellite channel was declared
illegal in Holland last year on the ground that it was disseminating
hatred. NRC refers to the Financial Times as a source for describing
Freedom House as one of the organisations receiving funding from the US
State Department for clandestine operations in Iran (it also refers to its
past support for the invasion of Iraq). Asked for a reaction, the
Netherlands ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Kees Jan Ouwerkerk
stated that recipients of Foreign Ministry aid could not be identified.
NRC also described an offical Nl program of EUR 15 million supporting a
training program for Iranian journalists, a radio station directing
transmissions at Iran and the World Press photo organisation.

The timing of this leak is interesting: on the same (front) page NRC
described the sensitive state of negotiations between the EU and Iran,
under the header: "Solana positive about nuclear consultations with Iran."

Hizbollah & Unlicensed Rally

I just read that in Global Voices:

"Hizbullah is holding an unlicensed rally on Friday, which is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of their supporters celebrating their “divine victory” over Israel. The Lebanese Interior Ministry, which normally issues permits for such mass gatherings, has not even been approached or asked for permission. Security for this rally will be handled by Hizbullah, the militia that many still insist is not a state within a state, Abu Kais report."

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Reuters: Conversation with Ted Turner

Reuters Newsmaker:As the United Nations General Assembly convenes in New York this September, Reuters invites you to glean insight into the United Nations. This Reuters Newsmaker features A Conversation with Ted Turner. Nearly a decade ago, Turner pledged to donate $1 billion through the UN Foundation for United Nations programs over a ten-year period. As that anniversary approaches, Paul Holmes, Reuters Political and General News Editor, will sit down with Turner to discuss his investment, his views of the current state of the United Nations, and what’s next for the often controversial organization. The audience will participate in the conversation through an open microphone session followed by a reception.

Last year event was about Iraq war.

Look at Western Magazines in Iran

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Abtahi, former vice president talks about 11 September

I just received an email ( I think many others got it too) from Mohammad Ali Abtahi, blogger & former vice president.
He talks about 11 September, religion and media.

Religion and Media
Seyed Mohammad Ali Abtahi

I believe all those who have had “religion” or “the media” as their field of study or area of experience, in recent years, especially after the bitter catastrophe of September 11, are faced with two essential questions:

Why have the borders of religious “difference” become more prominent and why have the identity factors become clearer?
How can the media diminish religious alienation and support inter-religious dialogue?

On account of my personal experience in the media (radios, televisions, the press and weblogs) and also my involvement and employment in “the dialogue of cultures and civilizations” and “interfaith dialogue”, I am trying to account for these two questions.

September 11 signaled a new danger to our world: the danger of legitimizing identities transforming into resistance identities. Legitimizing identities can be constructed by influential cultural institutions such as religion, and be spread by social activists and through rational synergies. However, resistance identities are normally formed in dangerous unstable situations by excluded groups. Resistance identity is, in fact, a kind of extremist violent self-expression in circumstances where the possibility of peaceful and dialogue-based relations is denied. What the event of September 11 is a consequence of is the expression of resistance identity or more appropriately the reflection of violence and terrorism in the cast of fundamentalism. Such a type of fundamentalism can be explained and analyzed within the framework of the same process mentioned regarding identity.
Divine religions, by reason of their strong bonds with man’s nature, can construct his legitimizing identity both in his individual and social sides. The issue has started from where, instead of fulfilling this critical role, religion has taken form as “resistance identity”. “Resistance identity” is a social construction and is a product of unjust political, economical and cultural changes worldwide.

“Resistance identity” can be constructed with religious, ethnical, national and even gender-related bricks. In today’s globalized world we are seeing violent extremist types of alienation, narcissism and fundamentalist religious, national, ethnic gender-related phobias which, near and far, have tightened the ring of dialogue, tolerance and coexistence in the world. These alienations, phobias and narcissisms, although more dangerous when religious, are not limited to religion in the first place and moreover are not limited to a specific religion. The roots of their construction and aggravation cannot be narrowed down to religion in general or any particular religion. September 11 proved that the most advanced parts of the current civilization is prone to harm from its most marginalized parts and the source of this vulnerability should be found in different layers of politics, culture and economy. The power of “identity”, if understood clearly, is a destructive one under any given title including religion, nationalism, ethnicity or gender.

Globalization and inclination towards universal features is only one of the directions of today’s world. The other direction is localization and the growth of particularistic features. Religion, politics, culture and economy should think up solutions between these two worlds. Inclusivism and exclusivism are two different approaches that can involve religion as well as politics, economy and culture. The first approach does not view its borders of difference as closed and rigidified and believes in a flexible dynamic identity. However, the second approach defines its borders of difference as separation and distance from the others and relies on a violent fundamentalist identity. The world can have a dominant inclusivist direction, whereas after September 11 it has unfortunately had an exclusivist direction. The media can work to weaken or strengthen any of these directions as well.

After September 11, most media have functioned to strengthen the points of difference or violent identity-forming aspects. Such a function can be the consequence of various factors: firstly, the violent frightening voice of fundamentalism has been a very loud voice which has reached ears more quickly and clearly than the soft peacemaking voice of religions. Secondly, religious fundamentalists, unlike traditionalists, have made wide use of new technology and media and, as a result, the level of dominance of fundamentalist leaders such as Bin Laden and Zawahiri over the new media spaces and tools has unprecededly increased in the recent years. Thirdly, international media, due to their press methods, have looked for “oddity” and “conflict” and have, therefore, paid more attention to religious differences than similarities. Fourthly, the media image of the East in the West and the West in the East has been a distorted, caricatured, or at least collaged one than a realistic image in natural proportions. An analysis of the contents of the news conveyed by world’s most effective news agencies, the press, radios and televisions very well proves that Islamophobia, heterophobia xenophobia and other forms of alienation have been their dominant characteristic. Nevertheless, in this approach, the role of the element of politics and especially, the lobby of extremist religious-political groups can be considered prominent and effective.
In spite of this distorted image of the element of religion in the contemporary world, we can signify the role of inclusivism and inclination towards openness and dialogue, which is embedded in religion. Basically, religious texts have always provided the grounds for opening doors to dialogue, both in content and form. What religion considers a rule is dialogue and forgiveness and what it considers an exception is conflict. However, fundamentalists and the fundamentalist image of religion are against this old deep-rooted tradition. Human beings, on account of being of the same kind but having differences, turn to dialogue to find their points of similarity and it is natural that the system of religion recognizes this intrinsic disposition. Both in the holy Bible and the Koran we repeatedly see that we are addressed as “humans”. This address elevates us from “individuals” to “persons” or parties of dialogue who are addressed by the holy voice. As said by the Koran, people of hell and torture are those who have been denied the blessing of “listening to the truth and turning to rationality” ([67:10] they also say, "If we heard or understood, we would not be among the dwellers of Hell!"). In the Islamic outlook, inviting others to the truth and guiding them is basically of a dialogue nature. The holy Koran states, ([16:125] you shall invite to the path of your Lord with wisdom and kind enlightenment and debate with them in the best possible manner) – best in wisdom.
Even in other eastern religions we can extensively see the dominance of the wisdom of dialogue over the manner of force and violence. In the book “conversations”, Confucius includes different examples of religious grounds for dialogue. In his fourth book “the art of teaching and learning” he states, “he who possesses ethical virtues speaks softly … this softness and quietness in speech is not an easy thing. In this world, most people are aggressive towards one another. Restraining oneself from excitement, grudge or aggression is a very difficult task, to relieve oneself from such difficulty there is no other way than speaking quietly and softly. Dialogue, in its modern usage, which is the result of a number of changes in the modern man’s epistemological outlooks, also has a privileged status in modern religious literature and in humanistic and democratic versions of religion. Therefore, many contemporary Muslim, Jewish and Christian theologians have paid a lot of attention to it. Formulation of the idea of dialogue, in its modern sense, can extensively be seen in the works of Muslim thinkers and modern reformists from Iran or other Muslim countries. Christian and Jewish religious philosophers and thinkers have also been effective in the design and promotion of the idea of dialogue.

Can this religious approach not be an indicator of inclusivism and inclination towards dialogue in religions? Why has the rough rootless voice of the fundamentalists shadowed the noble soft voice of the dialogue? Replacing this voice of violence with a soft voice is the task of religious media in our current world. But unfortunately there are not so many media that care about this important duty and those which do care are rarely heard.

Can international dialogues, considering the political restrictions they have, give open, pluralist, multi-minded behavioral patterns a chance to be expressed? My answer to this question draws upon the new role of the media in the communication age and the manifestation of a positive network society.
Turning to “dialogue” with an all-inclusive humanistic approach is considered the dominant argument in the cultural domain. This argument is mostly based upon common global issues and “collective fears and hopes of man in today’s society”. In this assemblage of dialogue, although there is little reliance on “state-nations”, there is far more reliance on “humanity” in its universal sense, units smaller than a government such as civic societies and units larger than a government such as cultures and civilizations. The culture in this pattern has taken a basic role and there is more emphasis on cultural bonds than on political ties. The cultural turn to the pattern of dialogue and the stress on “networks” instead of monodirectional vertical relations has created the possibility of dialogue and manifestation of the inclusivist direction of religions.

In fact, reorganization of the global order is beyond dialogue in the real world and will not occur unless the world is viewed as different cultural and social networks.

In order for us to reach “communicative understanding” we should put more emphasis on “communicative competence”. By communicative competence I do not only mean the techniques of the media and competence in the communicative language. Communicative competence means finding enough cultural competence in communication with our surrounding world and different minds and purposes. We are required to understand each culture internally and from within that culture in order to discover the language of dialogue with it.
This communicative competence is required for the fulfillment and maintenance of equal dialogue between religions, cultures and civilizations. The dialogue nature and features of each religion, civilization or culture are important. However, the way this nature and these features are interpreted, explained and, most importantly, understood by the parties is of more significance. “Communicative understanding” and “communicative competence” are among those synergies that can be used by the media in a way to pinpoint and strengthen dialogue values and traditions that are embedded in each religion, and to fortify the ethics of dialogue.

Global communicative media and tools, contrary to the universal human disposition that is against violence, have raced each other to aggravate violence and have practically been in the service of the growth of religious violence. Violence-seeking religious leaders have also used this possibility to organize extremist religious forces and introduce exclusivist figures, who automatically find the required charisma and attraction, as models and profited from the media that constantly prefer violence to other news and tend to expand the radius of violence. In the West, exclusivist churches took advantage of the media and made Islamophobia the main seat of the western mentality and in the Muslim society, as well, extremist movements profited from the media and aggravated the fear of the West. This race has escalated to pose the future of humanity a much higher danger than that of September 11.
At this juncture, as religion strengthened and formed bonds with the media, extremist religious leaders found it easier to make instrumental use of religion. Nevertheless, making instrumental use of religion and religious emotions to the political advantage of the strong is neither so complicated nor new. Although this dangerous game has always been started by political planners, it has never ended by its initial starters. An example of this would be Afghanistan, where the West organized the Muslims to overthrow the Soviet Union during the Cold War and meanwhile talked of Afghan guerilla fighters (the Mujahedeen) with high reverence. However, when political goals of the West were fulfilled the movement of the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan gave birth to the Taliban and al-Qaeda and this trend was not ended until the catastrophe of September 11.

Religious authorities and owners of the media should work hand in hand to replace the exclusivist religion with the inclusivist religion. Because advertising violence under the name of religion, more than anything else, causes religious values to lose color and is to the disadvantage of the shared religious essence, which has been sent down by God to carry the message of peace and life. Because most of the people who are interested in staying religious as well as living without violence will almost certainly sacrifice religiousness for better living.

The ethics of dialogue do not suggest negative tolerance but positive opposition and this is the essence of divine religions and the spiritual disposition. Only for the sake of observing dialogue ethics one should not just bear the others but work with them. Dialogue ethics, however, is a part of the current world’s urbanization and the foundation for democratic ties. This urbanization enables members of the society to listen to one another, and drives the political culture towards mutual respect, social and political contribution, freedom and observing the essential rights of the others.
Such urbanization requires powerful civic institutions, media and ties directed towards dialogue. In this approach, relationships have a “dialogue-opening” direction which means increasing the channels of communication between the listener and the speaker and deepening mutual understanding and democratic outlook and behavior.

“The communication age” as said earlier can become “the dialogue age” and the “Network society” can organize network order, on the condition that it can hear the silent voices of the world in cultural and urban domains. Life in the mediated world is not the need of our age. We can on one side see the virtual dominance of reality but on the other side there is possibility for speaking and listening in order to see the truth and turn to objectivity. Religions, also, can turn to the second side and the media, as well, can adopt fast, cheap and abundant distribution of information and knowledge in this direction.

So, there is a new vision for illustrating the role of the media and religion in promotion of inclusivism. And as Sohrab -Iranian poet- put it, we just need to wash our eyes and look in a different way.

Mohamadali Abtahi

Friday, September 15, 2006

Shargh newspaper was banned for this:

Another Rule of the Game:

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Khatami in USA

I do not understand why many hate to see Khatami in USA.It seems President Bush gave order to give him visa and he has been invited by many universities and religious institutions.Khatami in an interview with an american journal said Holocaust is a reality and we should learn lessons from it.Well, he is not a saint and he lost a lot of opportunities during his persidential "rule" but there are many dictators visit USA without any problem....then why not Khatami.

I think we should not put all IR guys in a same basket.But we should not see in them a super hero either....If not disappointment will be at "rendez vous"!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Second Cultural Revolution!

First cultural revolution happened about one year after revolution where leftwing students were attacked by Hizbollah forces. I remember Ayatollah Khomeyni said "we send our young Moslem students to the universities and they become Communists"!! Universities were shut down for two years and many students and professors were fired!One of islamist thinkers who led this "purification" was Dr.Soroush who was kicked out universities a few years later!! By the way, he always denied his role in cultural revolution but others remember him very well.

At present Ahmadinejad calls students to protest against secular professors.After he came to power, many changing happened in academic world. A cleric became head of Tehran University for the first time in history. Islamic Association in universities have been under pressure because most of them do not share Ahmadinejad's policy.Many university professors were obliged to get retired!!

I do not know it is second cultural revolution or not, but it hurts a lot!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Cool Sand Sculptures in Bruge

Enjoy Beautiful Flower Carpet in Brussels

Great flower carpet at the heart of Brussels. Next rendez-vous in 2008!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Dr.Ansari: US 75 MILLION Dollars to change Iranian regime is counter productive

It was a great honour to interview Dr.Ali Ansari from Oxford University for Washington Prism.org. I asked him what he thinks about this 75 million dollar budget that USA government wants to use to change Iranian regime.

He said first to change regime 75 million is not a big amount of money. Second it will be counter productive. Ansari adds it is better to spend this money t o train American specialists to understand better Iran.

Freedom of Expression made Khatami a brave speaker in USA, ONLY!

Former President, Mr.Khatami is a fearful man in Iran and he does not criticize Iranian government directly. If he does, he tries to use a "poetic language" in order not to become a conservative target. When his friends were arrested such as Nori, his own Minister & a cleric, he did not open his mouth!

Now he is in USA and he criticized American policy without any hesitation or a poetic language. If you want to see how freedom of expression in USA can give people chance to TALK, please look at Khatami case.

Western Media is an easy target for Iranian opportunists

I think western media is a very easy target to be manipulated by Iranian opportunists. You need to have no value system and to be able to lie in a professional way. The rest of story, western media will do for you. Why? They are TOO LAZY to verify your stories and they are not in touch with reliable Iranian sources.

Who cares! A 10 minutes interview or a piece in an online magazine! We, Iranians, are a kind of fast food products. It is really funny that same magazines accused their own governments to investigate in a wrong Iranian opposition!!!Well, politicians are looking for their interests but what about u, lazy media!

Who cares! Two groups: 1- Many Iranians are really disappointed by stupidity of western media and do not see any interest to be involved with them.
2-Opportunists who jump in this easy business. Why not! Everybody is happy: Lazy journalists have their story for editorial, opportunists get their part of cake, poor western readers get completely upside down story of what really is going in Iran and continue to pay for its journal or send its donation.....


Monday, September 04, 2006

EU members want more openness from Solana on Iran

EUOBSERVER / LAPPEENRANTA - A number of EU member states are growing impatient with the secretive handling of the Iran issue by foreign policy chief Javier Solana and the EU's "big three," with most foreign ministers not having seen a key Iranian paper at a meeting in Finland.

The Iran nuclear dispute dominated the second day of an EU foreign ministers meeting in Finland on Saturday (2 September) and saw ministers agree to mandate Mr Solana to seek further "clarifications" from Tehran despite its failure to meet Thursday's UN deadline to suspend uranium enrichment.Read More

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Ahmadinejad was invited to debate by bloggers

Some bloggers invited Ahmadinejad to a debate.They say we are available here in Iran and it is not necessary you invite Bush to a debate.

A reformist journalist invited him to a non censored interview.

All are waiting for Presidential answer!!!