Friday, December 24, 2010

Jesus (AS) in the Holy Quran

Our religious leaders have taught us to resort to the Holy Quran in difficult times. The Quran is a gauge and a compass in times of distress and loss. Its universal message talks to every human in a context relevant to the inner and social challenges they face. The Quran is a revelation to Prophet Mohammad but it is also a witness to the history of Revelation and Prophethood. The narrations of the Prophets, beginning  from Adam and Eve, are an integral part of the Quran and the Quranic version is in many cases similar to the Torah and  to the Bible. There are however differences which are noteworthy may reveal many points. The Quran also points to the distortions appearing later in Holy Scripture including the Torah and Bible and clarifies the ambiguities in many cases. The Quran has devoted much to the birth and life of Jesus the Son of Mary and Mary herself. Concerning the birth of Eisa or Jesus the Quran has beautiful verses in several chapters including the chapter Maryam.
"And mention, [O Muhammad], in the Book [the story of] Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place toward the east.
And she took, in seclusion from them, a screen. Then We sent to her Our Angel, and he represented himself to her as a well-proportioned man
She said, "Indeed, I seek refuge in the Most Merciful from you, [so leave me], if you should be fearing of Allah."
He said, "I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you [news of] a pure boy."
She said, "How can I have a boy while no man has touched me and I have not been unchaste?"
He said, "Thus [it will be]; your Lord says, 'It is easy for Me, and We will make him a sign to the people and a mercy from Us. And it is a matter [already] decreed.' 
So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a remote place.
And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, "Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten."
But he called her from below her, "Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream.
And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates.
So eat and drink and be contented. And if you see from among humanity anyone, say, 'Indeed, I have vowed to the Most Merciful abstention, so I will not speak today to [any] man.' 
Then she brought him to her people, carrying him. They said, "O Mary, you have certainly done a thing unprecedented.
O sister of Aaron, your father was not a man of evil, nor was your mother unchaste."
So she pointed to him. They said, "How can we speak to one who is in the cradle a child?"
[Jesus] said, "Indeed, I am the servant of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet.
And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and zakah as long as I remain alive.....
That is Jesus, the son of Mary - the word of truth about which they are in dispute."

 There is much beauty in the Quranic version of the birth of Jesus(AS) and much emphasis on the human nature of Jesus and his first miracle, speaking upon birth. The most important notion given is that the Holy Quran is so strong and confident of its message that it devotes a major part of its discourse to a narration of other Prophets and events related to their lives.  The Quran conveys the message of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and many other Prophets to emphasize on the continuity of Revelation and the evident Truth behind it.
Jesus has come as a great tiding to humanity for worship of God and denial of oppression and deceit. According to Islamic tradition , Jesus (AS) will return with the awaited Mahdi to bring peace and love back to a war stricken and depressed world. 

So eat an

So eat and drink and be contented. And    

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Universal Concept of Ashura

Now that the major ceremonies of Ashura are over I have found the opportunity to write about the event. The fact that certain personalities and events dating centuries back still influence human thought and society and play a strong inspirational role marks the importance of understanding the event and the philosophy behind it. Ashura has been mourned for hundreds of years in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Kuwait,  Southern Lebanon, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh in addition to other countries. Imam Hussein and the philosophy of the Ashura uprising has been studied, praised and retold by both Muslims and non Muslims throughout the world. In reality, the essence of the message of Ashura is so close to human nature  that it is understood and appreciated by all those who cherish human values irregardless of creed or race. The universal concept that Imam Hussein pursues is to fight  injustice in any form. Imam Hussein fights the oppressive system of Bani Ommayeh who rules in the name of Islam and and claims to follow the Sharia. Omar Saad  and  Ibne Ziad and their followers pray and fast like Muslims, but also lie, and betray and break promises. These are those who use any means to reach their objectives, including lies, crimes and deceit. Imam Hussein says I have risen to correct the deviations in the religion of my grandfather the Prophet of Islam. Hussein stands against the ruling system to prove that the struggle for justice is a precondition for the dignity and freedom of humans. His message still echoes strong in history in every land and every society .

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Air Pollution and Mismanagement

Air quality has been poor in Tehran and some other cities in Iran for the past weeks. This has resulted in extra holidays last week and restrictions on passenger car traffic in the inner city limits. In addition, as of last week passenger cars can enter the streets only on the basis of their license numbers on odd or even days  of the week. This has to some respect diminished the numbers on the streets but the air pollution crisis continued. Experts believe  that the low wind speed (between 4-5 Knots) and lack of control and regulation of vehicle emissions are the main reasons.
In 1999 , the Department of Environment , during my tenure, studied and prepared a comprehensive plan to combat air pollution in Tehran. The Plan was prepared on the basis of three national surveys and studies and ultimately adopted by the Government of President Khatami, a year later. The Plan was implemented during the ensuing years and resulted in environmental control over the automotive industry, out phasing of leaded gasoline, promotion and expansion of public transportation systems, promotion of standard and cleaner fuels such as CNG, and public awareness and participation programs. The plan had an efficient management chart and division of work on that basis, between 15 relevant sectors. After the change of government in 2005, the plan faced serious impediments and was practically abandoned. Experts and environmentalists, even Parliamentarians warned officials of the consequences of abandoning environmental programs but Mr. Ahamadinejad had other priorities and the environment was not even in his list.
In order to make up for some of the delays in the plan, after I was elected to the City Council we continued to follow the plan in the Tehran City Council, Environment Committee. We adopted regulations for the Technical Inspection centers, adopted new standards, and recently enacted a revision of the Comprehensive Plan to Combat Air Pollution. In the  revised edition, we emphasized on planning  to control pollutants and on the volatile organic compounds. According to a recent survey, these VOCs have exceeded  standard levels in ambient air in Tehran.
The Government has resorted to publicity stunts like sprinkling  water with small planes and claiming to filter the air using 1000 filtration devices. This announcement has raised widespread criticism, questioning the scientific basis of such declarations. " They have mistaken a 700 square kilometer megacity with their home or their backyard" a municipality official noted. Ghalibaf, the Mayor of Tehran dismissed the issue as a "joke".  I made the point clear in the Council session last week and in an article published in Shargh and in my Persian blog that the only solution is to proceed with the revised plan and strict regulation and control on emissions.
Any false propaganda and theater will only serve to further alienate citizens who should not be suffering from the consequences of government  mismanagement.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Medals for Iranian Women

Iran has pioneered a campaign for the promotion of Muslim women's sports activities at the national and global levels.  During the early years after the Islamic Revolution there were many obstacles created for women's sports. Conservative religious circles insisted that sports were not appropriate for women, particularly in the public sphere. Religious leaders however, like Imam Khomeini were not all against the involvement of women in sport competitions, particularly if the symbols of modesty in dress were applied. During the first decade, sport activities at the popular level were promoted for women in Iran, but very little was reflected in the media and practically nothing was done at the championship level. During the second decade and through the efforts of women like Faezeh Hashemi, who became a Parliamentarian later and who led a major nationwide campaign for women's rights to sport activities, women's sports new gradually found way into the local media and championship activities also began . She also spearheaded a campaign for sports  for Muslim women worldwide.
 Iranian women took this new opportunity for granted and following the efforts made during all these years they took great strides in the recent Asian Games in China. Iranian women represented 25% of Iran’s 373 member national team for the Asian games and these woman Athletes won close to 25% of Iran’s medal count.
Iranian women received 19 medals in Wushu, Shooting, Taekwondo, Kabaddi, Karate, and Rowing.

The real number one spot for the games goes to Chinese women who represented 47.5% of the China’s 960 member team for the Asian games and these women won close to 56% (or 221) of China’s medal count, more medals than any national team from any country.

Promoting modesty and the Islamic covering, Iranian women may ,have set an example for other Muslim countries. At the national level however many believe that Iranian women could have done much better if they were given more chances and if conservatives and extremists had not imposed their distorted version of the Religion, in many dimensions of contemporary life in Iran.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ghadir and Khatami

A ceremony was held in the modest office of Seyed Mohammad Khatami (former President), on the occasion of Eide Ghadir last week. After months of pressures and limitations against Khatami, hundreds gathered to visit the Reformist leader. A valuable artistic work of calligraphy of the Holy Quran dating back to seven centuries ago was launched in the ceremony. The calligraphy belonged to Yaghout who had created several versions during his lifetime. Ahmad Masjed Jamei the former Guidance Minister and current Tehran City Councilor spoke concerning the occasion and the history of calligraphy and artistic designs. Khatami then spoke about Ghadir and the attitudes and policies of Ali Ibn Abitalib. Khatami stressed upon the point that the most respected and honored for Ali were those who disapproved or criticized  him. Ali, on the other hand, did  not approve of those who boasted about his personality and praised him unconditionally. During the years of his leadership in the ruling system, people were free to express their views and there were no repercussions for those who openly criticized or opposed the government of Ali (AS). Khatami was making a very clear allusion to the current circumstances in Iran. He was in reality, reminding those currently in power, of the astute and grand personality of Ali Ibn Abitalib, who tolerated his opponents and allowed them to speak out.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Kingdom of Solomon

We went to a local cinema to see  The Kingdom of Solomon, tonight. The film which has been recently produced in Iran , is screened in many cinemas in Tehran. We went to Azadi Cinema which is a large cinema theater with more than 6  cinema halls in one building. The cinema was built only two years ago by the Tehran Municipality.The is film written and directed by Shahriar Bahrani , the same director who created The Holy Mary ( Maryam). The Kingdom of Solomon is written on the basis of verses in the Holy Quran dealing with the Prophet Solomon or Suleiman. The film has employed very strong special effects and is considered to be successfully directed to give a sensation of power and dominion.

The film mostly deals with the battles that  Solomon  has waged against the devils and jinns in favor of the Children of Israel (Jacob).  The film does not deal with all aspects of Solomon's life as narrated in the Quran. It deals only with the more violent dimensions while , the close relationship of  Solomon with nature and animals in particular, is overlooked. The beautiful verses related to the encounter between the Queen of Sheba or Belghis and Solomon is also not portrayed in this movie. Certain observers believe that the film has been used as a political weapon against the opposition groups who protested against the Government last year. I believe some of the conversations do seem to convey such a  political mentality. Overall, I enjoyed the film and I think it is a step forward for the film industry in Iran.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Brecht and the Filtration of Weblogs

My late father was a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, but also very fond of arts, particularly theater. Years before the Islamic Revolution in 1979,  my father would regularly check the local theaters and prepare tickets for the family. He once took us to a performance entitled : The Exception and the Rule,  a famous work written by  Bertolt Brecht. The play was considered very intellectual and in a sense revolutionary in those days. As a young 15 year old teenager,  I was fascinated by the idea that one day an exception could replace a rule;  not in written, but in practice where the rules actually count.
Some years later, the Islamic Revolution of 1979, came to abolish autocracy and despotism and to establish a rule of divine law and ethical practice. Like many young men and women, I was part of that revolutionary and progressive movement. We struggled  for our dignity, our freedom and our future.  The Constitution which was drawn up in the early months after the victory , was written by revolutionaries who had experienced a taste of detainment, torture and pressure during the despotic reign of the Shah.

Article 6: In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the freedom, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of the country are inseparable from one another, and their preservation is the duty of the government and all individual citizens. No individual, group, or authority, has the right to infringe in the slightest way upon the political, cultural, economic, and military independence or the territorial integrity of Iran under the pretext of exercising freedom. Similarly, no authority has the right to abrogate legitimate freedoms, not even by enacting laws and regulations for that purpose, under the pretext of preserving the independence and territorial integrity of the country. 

Article 24: Publications and the press have freedom of expression except when it is detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam or the rights of the public. The details of this exception will be specified by law. 

The Constitution has thus been considered as one of the most progressive texts although many believe there are certain restrictions and contradictory clauses  in the text, which leave room for interpretations out of the context of the Law.
Now and particularly following the disputed elections last year, the government has imposed severe restrictions on the activity of journalists and bloggers.  While State media including the Radio and Television  are monopolized and only disseminate the official versions, private weblogs and sites have been filtered on charges of criticizing or questioning government policy and supporting  domestic opposition groups. Social networks like Facebook  and opposition news networks are totally filtered. Anti-filter software and emails that provide open information  are the tactics taken up by people to counter these measures.
My weblog in Farsi was initially filtered  a few months ago and then obstructed, after which I created a blogspot blog( which was also filtered last week.

A new development in this regard is the filtration of this English blog , Persian Paradox for the first time. Readers in Iran will now have to use a anti - filter to have access to this blog, for international viewers there should be no change.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Sacrifice

Eid Ghorban or Adha is an important occasion for Muslims worldwide . It is a commemoration of the  Abrahamic tradition. This day is the day when Abraham took to respond to his divine dreams;  to sacrifice his dearest son Esmail or Samuel. It was a  test of faith and steadfastness.
It was a demonstration  of Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his most cherished son and to stand in face of God  with a pure and dedicated heart. This purity and dedication he realizes is the key to human dignity and salvation. Abraham complies with the revelations he has from God but only to see that once he has dedicated his heart, the sacrifice of Esmail is abandoned and no longer required. Now, Muslims worldwide celebrate the victory of faith and purity that Abraham achieved.
This Eid is the culmination of Hajj and a ceremony, the rituals of which are enlightening and meaningful, not only  for Muslims but according to the Holy Quran, for all humanity.

Monday, November 8, 2010

For the Environment, Against War

The sixth of November has been designated as the International Day for the Prevention of the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict by the UN. The Center  for Peace and Environment has convened an international seminar each year (except for 2009, for obvious reasons) commemorating this occasion. Members of the international community in Tehran as well as Ambassadors from various countries of the world are invited to take part in the ceremony.
 I stressed upon the vulnerability of the region and the previous wars which have inflicted irreparable  damage on the ecosystem of the Persian Gulf and the natural resources of the Middle East in my opening speech. I referred to the breakdown of infrastructures in Lebanon, Gaza and Iraq and how that may lead to vast pollution and unhealthy conditions. I also mentioned the degradation of natural resources in Iraq and  Afghanistan due to the long occupation and war. I called upon the international community to urge restraint and peaceful resolution of conflicts particularly dealing with Iran. Dr. Mohaghegh Damad who is a scholar of Islamic studies also noted of the references in Islamic scripture and texts to the importance of protecting nature and resources in times of war and conflict.

Consule Vidal the UN Resident Coordinator delivered the speech of the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon who stressed that we should also regard nature as a potential for conflict resolution and mutual collaboration among nations. In the panel disucssion, the Ambassador of Croatia who is also a Professor of Environmental Studies, spoke about the environmental dangers of war in residential areas after demolition of homes . The representative of the Red Cross, in his speech, also  indicated that his organization plans to be more active in the area of environmental challenges during natural disasters and relief programs.

The session ended with a question and answer session as well as a final communique in which all participants stressed upon the importance of maintaining peace and preventing conflict for the protection of the environment in all parts of the world, particularly the Middle East.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Militarization of Our Region

The United States government announced an arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth  60 billion dollars, that includes advanced fighter jets, helicopters, missiles and other weaponry and equipment. The deal that will be implemented over 15 to 20 years is known to be the largest US arms deal ever. 

The Obama administration decided to proceed with this deal after evaluating Saudi's defence needs and determining that this  would not diminish Israel's military edge in the region, and concluded the deal would promote security and stability in the Middle East. Disregarding thereby, the fact that arming a undemocratic regime with an unpopular standing among Muslim nations may create insecure and unstable conditions in the region.  The wheels of the American military machinery  are rolling again. 
 The United States has laid out a five-year, $2 billion (£1.28 billion) military   aid package for Pakistan as it presses the Islamabad government to step up the fight against extremists there and in neighboring Afghanistan. The US has in a way  disregarded the tragic conditions of millions of homeless and helpless Pakistanis who need food, medicine and shelter, not arms.
The American corporate sector which has invested in arms production as well as the Government which looks forward to   revenues for its ailing economy are failing to see some of the stark realities on ground.

The radical actions of extremists and terrorists  has created a pretext for  arms sales,  while the violent rhetoric of many politicians has also fueled a pro-war and conflict atmosphere in the Middle East.  In addition, this senario fits in with the Armageddon theory that both Evangelists and Christian Zionists, as well as radical Islamic groups and politicians promote.

It seems that Obama and his entourage have completely forgotten the promises given during his election campaign . Obama has distanced himself from the views he gave during his famous Berlin speech where he condemned the Bush era policies for their militaristic approach and praised multilateralism.

Should this region anticipate war once again ?

The complex equations governing our world today are creating more insecurity and instability for the globe. People do not know who to believe or who to trust.  Politicians do not keep their promises once they are elected. The more they claim to follow ethical standards the worse they perform in terms of keeping their vows.  The cloudy and uncertain atmosphere in both the region and in Iran are not positive signs.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Moral Ground

 Moral Ground finally came out.Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril I was invited about a year and a half ago to join a group of 80 scholars producing a book entitled Moral Ground:, Ethical Action For a Planet in Peril. The idea was to gather the views of a diverse group of theologians and religious leaders, naturalists,scientists,elected officials, business leaders, activists and writers to present a compelling call to honor our individual and collective moral responsibility to the planet.

According to the introductory paragraph on the cover page; in face of environmental degradation, species extinction and climate change , scientific knowledge alone does not tell us what we ought to do. Nor can political processes or economic incentives give us all the answers. The missing premise of the argument and the much-needed centerpiece in the debate to date has been the need for ethical values, moral guidance and principled reasons for doing the right thing for the future of our planet, its animals, its plants and its people.
People like Dalai Lama, Barack Obama, Thomas Friedman, Archbishop Bartholomew, Archbishop Tutu, Wangari Maathai,  and Seyyed Hossein Nasr are among the co-authors of this book.

The title of my essay in the book is " Peace and Sustainability Depend on the Spiritual and the Feminine." I have stressed upon the importance of leadership and the lack of spiritual directions and compassion in the leadership of the world today.
Stemming from different religions and cultural backgrounds the message is clear we are facing a moral challenge in dealing with the degradation of the global environment. We might be the first species which has initiated its extinction by its wrongdoings and excesses or  we might take heed, repent for our sins and  change course, its our call.  

Friday, September 17, 2010

Lesson from the events concerning the Holy Quran: Dialogue and Faithfulness

Some good might come out after the furor and outrage that erupted worldwide on the news of certain extremists attempting to burn the Holy Quran. After the initial condemnation, many religious leaders, world wide have called for dialogue and understanding among followers of divine religions and particularly Abrahamic faiths. In Florida alone, more than 20 religious leaders from Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim backgrounds around Gainesville had a Quran passage  on the oneness of God read - along with Christian and Hebrew scriptures–  at their congregations over the weekend.  
It was a sign of unity after weeks of talk by a Florida pastor who threatened to burn the Muslim holy book on 9-11 but who ultimately cancelled the event.  Some Christian leaders plan to continue connections with clergy from other faiths. A group of religious leaders will meet in October in Gainesville to try to improve interfaith relations.
A few years ago on the occasion of the World Environment Day(June 5), I was invited to speak in a large Church congregation, in Tromso , Norway.  The ceremony was broadcast live in many parts of Europe and worldwide. Many people later told me that they were surprised to learn that the Quran has spoken so clearly about nature and its diversity, about our responsible behavior  and about the negligence that will ultimately harm humans. They believed it was the first time a Muslim woman had delivered a sermon in a Christian Church in Europe. 
The common lines of Abrahamic Religions are so evident and bold that denying their common roots is only a sign of ignorance or prejudice. In fact, the Holy Quran  has   many references to the Abrahmic tradition and to the lives of the Prophets. There are more than 400 references to Moses in the Holy Quran and several references to Mary and Jesus . In reality, the only revelation that we have about Jesus is from the Quran, for what is said in the Bible are recollections from the disciples and the old Testament has nothing about him.  What comes in the Quran concerning other religions, is in fact a authentic account of what has passed in the original  Scriptures, in most respects it matches the current versions in Judaism and Christianity but in some respects there are differences. 
Many Christian women do not know that there is a whole Chapter in the Quran entitled Mariam and many verses in other Chapters on  her and her son Jesus.  Many followers of Christianity or Judaism are not aware of the respect and love that Muslims have for their Prophets and many do not know that the Quran has come not to deny the Abrahamic Tradition but to endorse it and to correct any distortions that might have occurred over the centuries. Many followers of other religions also are not aware of the fact that all Muslims regardless of sect or school, Shia or Sunni have only one version of the Quran and has been no dispute over the text in the Muslim world.
In Iran, during the past week there were many different reactions to the sad attitude of this radical minority of Americans. In addition to the official positions which condemned the event as part of a conspiracy in the usual anti -Zionist context , one religious leader made the point that even if they go to the stage to do so, we will announce that we still love Jesus and we will not insult their Bible.
Some people protested peacefully others with violent reactions. Many articles condemning the event were published. Some pointed to the long tradition of coexistence and peaceful cooperation between Muslim, Christian and Jewish societies in Iran and other parts of the world.  
Muhammad Nourizad , one of the political activists who has been detained ,along with many other reformist leaders, for several months now in the Evin prison, has sent a message condemning the event but also asking the authorities in Iran how people should believe their support for the Holy book? When in practice, the governing faction has undermined many Islamic edicts in dealing with their opponents and in suppressing the protests and the criticisms voiced by many innocent protesters, he has asked . Is the Book sacred only in its published form or are the teachings and the edicts and the moral standards of the Book also sacred ; he asked. Can we pretend to safeguard the Book but at the same time undermine its content and message? This is an important question not only for Iranian leaders but for Muslim leaders worldwide. 
If ultimately this event has led to more efforts for dialogue among followers of the Abrahamic Tradition and  more questions on the true faithfulness of the followers of the Quran, then we have lost some and have gained more. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Eid and Rebellion

Islamic festivities and celebrations are termed Eid.  Eid e Fetr or the conclusion of Ramadan is one of the greatest celebrations of the Muslims. One month of fasting, prayers,piety and attending to the needs of others is actually a practice to transform our attitude and behavior.

There is a narration from Imam Sadegh the sixth descendant of the Prophet (SA) that reads as follows: The Eid is the day when there is no rebellion against God (or in other words no oppression against people).

We can celebrate when the root causes of oppression in its different forms including ;tyranny, aggression, slavery,colonialism, and war are uprooted and humankind can live in peace with one another and with nature.

Oppression in any form, in any place, in any time is a rebellion against God, since God has created humans and breathed His Spirit unto them and has appointed humankind  as His viceroy on earth. He has dignified the humans in their creation and for that reason human life is sacred and should be respected as such.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Qods and Blue Cheese

Over the years I have seen many international figures who have changed sides over the issue of Palestine. Their main incentive in this conversion to pro-resistance figures has been the extent and inhuman nature of Israeli crimes . Even while many Western media endeavored to downplay the extent of cruelty of Israelis in targeting ordinary Palestinians in the streets of the West Bank  during the first and second Intifada, or the wild bombing of residential areas and killing of civilians in Lebanon, and Gaza during the past years, the reality and  true nature of the Zionist regime was eventually exposed. These crimes and most recently the barbaric attack on the Gaza Flotilla  provided a realistic picture for the global public opinion who were searching for the truth.

Israel has occupied the Palestinian territories, exiled many of its residents, besieged Gaza and has created an apartheid wall separating the Palestinian cities and villages from the new settlements of the occupiers. Now, it perceives any verbal threat or any attempt to help Palestinians as an existential threat and takes unilateral action to thwart the move before it conceives. Many feel today that the policies and actions of the Israeli government are an outright  insult to humanity. Unconditional support stemming from a strong Zionist lobby in the American Senate and Congress has given Israel the confidence it needs to flout international regulations and laws and commit crimes against humanity without any remorse.
While fresh negotiations have just begun between Fatah and Israeli officials, many observers are skeptical . They refer to the history of these negotiations which have not only resulted in the ongoing despair of the Palestinian nation, but which have also facilitated the expansion of new settlements for the Israelis in occupied territories. I remember an international climate change conference in Marrakesh where on the sidelines of the session we sat together with some UN  officials and experts and discussed the Middle East crisis. They believed that the occupied territories have been transformed into what they called the Blue Cheese Phenomena . After all those settlements there is no land left for the Palestinians to build their State, and when the issue of the three million living in exile is always taken off the table, what is there to negotiate?

The late Yasser Arafat had understood this during his  final years . He resisted signing any treaty and that was probably why he suspiciously poisoned, to open way for new leaders who would sell their souls to the devil.

Tomorrow, Iran will celebrate Qods day. Particularly in recent years, the Iranian government has taken a radical and unblalanced approach on this matter thereby alienating many  intellectuals.  Nevertheless, Qods Day demonstrations are welcomed by all political factions. While leaders of the opposition and Green Movement have been under pressure to keep out of the streets,  riot police are already  on the streets in Tehran.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Virtual Migration

 Although we are witnessing the globalization trend worldwide, but this has not resulted in a denial of national identity and nationalist sentiments. In fact globalization has enabled nations to appreciate their culture and national heritage . It has also created concerns for those who fear that this trend will result in the monopoly of a certain culture at the expense of marginalizing other indigenous cultures. However, inspite of their roots and attachments many have decided to migrate, either in pursuit of better circumstances of life and work or due to the pressures and limitations on basic freedoms. Many developing countries have experienced the "Brain Drain" during the recent decades. Unfortunately Iran has topped global statistics in some years. The exodus of well educated and in many cases wealthy Iranians has been more significant during the recent years. Many feel reluctant but have no other choice other than to move ahead.
In a similar context in the web, virtual hosts and service providers have created cities  for bloggers .These hosts may have a national or international identity. For the past years I was a member of Persianblog. I had a  Persian weblog Greenebtekar on which I wrote 431 posts and received thousands of comments. A few months ago I was filtered by the Government and ultimately my Farsi blog was shut down. I presented my defense to authorities indicating that I had not broken any laws or crossed any lines. As a child of the Islamic Revolution, I sincerely believed in freedom of speech  and believe that Islam is a religion of tolerance and dignity.
I had no choice but  to migrate from an Iranian host Persianblog to an international host and new address on blogspot:    .
I hope I can continue to write for my Iranian fellow country men and women, and for my own heart.                                                                               

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Anniversary of a Coup d'etat

The Center for Peace and Environment (CPE) held its annual General Assembly session last Thursday. About 60 members attended the meeting, in which the Executive Director, Dr. Sedique Babran delivered a report on the Center's activities for the past year. In light of the very difficult circumstances we faced last year, the Center was not as active as before. We had a very important session before elections last year entitled "Expectations of the Environment from the President" .Along with large group of NGOs and experts in this field, we proposed a plan for environmental protection for the next President. The approved plan was taken up by most candidates and Mir Hossein Mousavi even convened a session on the matter, which was attended by a very large numbers of activists and environmentalists from around the country.  Later, after the disputed elections and the ensuing events   the CPE,  like many other NGOs was not very active. This Assembly approved the Director's fiscal report and elected an Inspector for the Board as routine.

Today, the 28th of Mordad is the anniversary of the American coup d'etat against the nationalist government of Dr. Mohammad Mosadegh in 1953. Operation Ajax was aimed at toppling the Prime Minister and reinstating the Monarchy who had fled the country considering the growing power of nationalist and religious revolutionary forces. The event brought a terrible blow to the democratic processes of Iran and returned, Iran to 25 years of dark despotism and backwardness . The Shah then, indebted to the US for protecting his throne became a subservient servant to protect American interests in the Persian Gulf. Iran was coined as the Gendarme of the Region, for more than 60,000 Armed American forces were stationed in military bases in Iran. While in a state of  hypocrisy, common to the cold war era, Americans claimed to lead the world to freedom and democracy, the case in Iran was totally moving in the opposite direction. These double standards led the Iranian nation to stand up during the Islamic Revolution  in 1978 and oust the Shah and establish a Republic based on Islamic standards. Even though  American Secretary of State, Madeline Albright,  during the Clinton administration presented an official apology , the event has left  a deep scar in the history of Iran. Many observers believe that the current democratic challenges and pressures on Reformists, are rooted in such tragic policies of Western powers.
Incorrect American policies during the Islamic Revolution and since then up to now, has strengthened the walls of mistrust between the two countries now for decades. In many international gatherings when we discussed the history of the Revolution and the Takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979, many observers believed that the American staged coup d'etat of 1953 set a legitimate stage for the skepticism and suspicion that led to the student takeover in 1979.
We still today, stand in a quagmire of mistrust complicated by the bullish approach of a former superpower that needs to learn how to engage in dialogue  not  as a superior, but as equals.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Ramadan Lifestyle

In  2004, as the Vice President of Iran  and during the Khatami Administration , I was invited to deliver a speech at the University of Seoul. The conference hall was jammed with students and academics who were curious to hear from a woman Vice President from Iran.

In that session I spoke about the common aspirations of human societies , about the fact that many global challenges including environmental degradation and the widening gap between rich and poor nations are rooted in the distorted lifestyles that we humans pursue. We need to improve ourselves individually and collectively in terms of  consumption patterns,  destruction of the natural environment, violence, war and abrogation of human rights.Today we come to the conclusion at the international level that we need to change lifestyles and attitudes in order to correct the current unsustainable trends. I mentioned the need for an inner journey to correct the attitudes and behavior that has become so detrimental. The Four Journeys of Mulla Sadra could be taken as a model , where four stages of cognition and spiritual upliftment were included, I noted. I was fascinated to hear the very intelligent questions and the level of understanding that Korean students displayed to concepts which came from a very distant country and culture but which touched common human values and aspirations. 
The inner journey we all aspire for may begin with the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is a chance to change the monotonous routine of our self-centered and egoistic lives . It is a chance to see beyond the material limits of the self and by closing doors on material senses and desires, to open a door to the mystical realm of the spirit. Ramadan is the month when Muslims refrain from eating and abstain from desires. One should endeavor to refrain from lying and all other sins during this holy month. Ramadan is a time for the inner journey for perfection.  Ramadan has benefits for both the mind and the body as well as the spirit. Eating, sleeping and work behaviors are all altered during this month paving way for a new lifestyle during the whole year ahead. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Obama Sending Mixed Signals to Tehran

Last week, Mr. Obama invited a group of journalists into the White House to talk about Iran. According to the Washington Post's David Ignatius, Obama's agenda was to signal Iran that the United States might "accept a deal that allows Iran to maintain its civilian nuclear program, so long as Iran provides 'confidence-building measures' to verify that it is not building a bomb." He said that his Administration is prepared to lay out "a clear set of steps that we would consider sufficient to show that they are not pursuing nuclear weapons." Together with the tightening of sanctions against Iran and the CIA Director Leon Panetta's June 27 conclusion that sanctions will "probably not" dent Iran's drive for a "nuclear option" and also former CIA Director Michael Hayden's recent statement on CNN that a strike on Iran now "seems inexorable," the Administration seems to be sending mixed signals to Iran . Some analysts have concluded that other than his unsuccessful attempts to engage with Iran, Obama has come to very similar positions with Bush on Iran. Now, some believe that calls for deals and dialogue on both sides are only to brush of the guilt of being complacent and not doing enough to prevent another tragedy in the Middle East. Neo-cons and zionists whose thirst for war and destruction of the Islamic nation has not been quenched by wars in Lebanaon, Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan, now insist that the storm clouds of war seem to be circling in the Middle East once again.

In synchrony with other pro-war voices , the Washington Times, yesterday attempted to legitimize an attack:” An Israeli strike may or may not be in the cards, with the acquiescence, if only privately, of some Arab states and others, but the question nevertheless arises: Would an Israeli strike on Iran necessarily be unlawful? “

There is much hope in Iran that Obama will not ultimately play into the hands of the extremists who are similar to certain elements within Iran, in their thinking that any attack on Iran will lead to apocalyptical conditions thereby ushering the rise of the “Hidden Imam” for the Muslims or the “Messiah” for the Jews and the Christians alike. These extremists have gone to the verge of predicting when the Imam will appear and who his true allies would be. Such prophecies had an important role in the initial election of Mr. Ahmadinejad in 2005 and still continues to be a source of religious arousal for his followers, amidst the very difficult times he is facing now in Iran.

I believe it is also very important to mention that Reformists and the Green Movement do not approve of the escalating tensions between Iran and the West . Sanctions and economic pressures are useless tactics that ultimately destabilize the economy, weaken the private sector and put more pressure on the masses thereby impeding democratic processes in Iran. The notion of striking or attacking Iran is outrageous considering the chain reaction it would initiate not only in the Middle East but throughout the world. Dialogue and alleviation of tensions are the only way ahead. Taken in that light, while his other policies were reminiscent of the Bush era,  this recent step by Obama may be cautiously envisaged as a step in the correct direction.

Monday, August 2, 2010

30 Months Ahead : Ya Ali

According to schedule this round of urban and rural councils would  conclude its four year term next April. However, a bill was introduced in the Majlis last year, to merge the timing of  Presidential elections held every four years according to the Constitution, with Council elections also held every four years. Iranians have been going to the polls for elections of various officials practically every year and this has always been taken as a partial indicator of a democratic process in the Islamic Republic (except for, of course, the previous disputed Presidential elections).
Last month the Majlis also adopted a bill according to which the third round of the Councils would be extended for 22 months. Many observers believed that after the tragic events of last year and the unresolved disputes on the elections, any new election this year would be unwelcome for  the people and the turnout would be very low. Supporters of Ahmadinejad in the Majlis were against this proposal and insisted to convene elections according to schedule . The low turnout would be to their benefit as their minority would overtake the Councils, in which a majority are currently  critical of the government and more than 40% are Reformists. The Reformists were also against the proposal, but for a different reason. They believed that the elections would be an opportunity for more freedom of speech and a chance to speak out on different political matters which are unspeakable under ordinary circumstances (like now).
The Majlis approved the bill and the Council of Guardians approved it without any fuss to the surprise of many.
In any case, as a representative of 9 million inhabitants of Tehran, I pray  God will grant me the strength, courage and insight to defend and promote the rights of these citizens and to enhance the quality of life for those living in Tehran.
Begining from this month we have 30 months ahead of us to serve.
For the second round of his Presidency, when it became evident how difficult it would be to stand for another four years Khatami stood for his candidacy with the slogan Ya Ali. In Persian it is customary to say Ya Ali when you need strength and wisdom, since Imam Ali is an example of both.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Mr. Masjed Jamei was the Minister of Guidance during the second term of Khatami's Presidency. He is now a member of the Tehran City Council.  Along with Dr Najafi (also a long time Minister and now Councilor) we were on a visit to a mourning family in Tehran who had lost their son a year ago. The young man had loved Abulfazel Abbas as a role model, his mother sadly recalled.
In their home, Mr. Masjed Jamei spoke about the attractive personality of this loyal brother of Imam Hussein and how he is now revered by people of all walks of life even from different religions. He spoke about a religious group (Heyat) that Armenians in Tehran have to commemorate Abbas, their green flag has only his name on it. Jews residing in Tehran also have ceremonies, he noted, for Imam Hussein and Abbas.
I also remembered how in an international conference " Earth Dialogues",  I was attending in Brisbane Australia, the Director had chosen an Islamic symbol for the conference. The hand of Abbas had been chosen from an artistic exhibition in Morocco.

More interesting was an international  contemporary arts exhibition he had visited in Tehran, wherein an Indian artist had displayed a short skit comprising of a dialog with a pot of water. He was playing the role of Abbas, when he returned from the battle ground of Karbala ( a battle incited by Yazid the Ommayid Khalifa  against the grandson of the Prophet ,Imam Hussein in 61 Hegira), to bring water for the thirsty women and children from the Euphrates . According to the narration, he filled a pot with water but inspite of his thirst , recalling the thirst of his brother and family, he could not drink from that water. Abbas  returned, but was attacked midway and martyred ,while carrying the water back.
Now, 14 centuries later this inspirational event was brought to life by an Indian Hindu who had grasped the message of love and loyalty and resistance in face of oppression from Abbas.

The Arabic month that we are now in, Sha'ban is one of the most festive and joyous months for Muslims. In many narrations it is known as the month of the Final Prophet (Muhammad SA).  The third of Sha'ban is known as the birthday of Imam Hussein and the following days are the birthdays of Abulfazel Abbas his legendary loyal brother and AliAkbar his valiant son. The 15th of Sha'ban is the birthday of the twelfth Imam who is in  occultation  according to Shia tradition. Sunnis also consider the 15th of Sha'ban as a night of Ghadr (value), a unique night when the holy Quran has descended and when a year's destiny takes shape.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


The verdicts of the Shariat, or Islamic jurisprudence come basically from the Holy Quran or from reliable and authentic narratives from the Prophet of Islam (SA) or his descendants. I have heard and read the views of many   knowledgeable  interpreters of the Quran (including Ayatollah Mousavi Bojnordi) who infer that there is no reference to stoning or Rajm in the Quran.The references to Rajm in the context which it is employed in the judicial systems of  Iran and certain Islamic countries in contemporary times are only found in the Torat. Modern  jurists  have indicated that such practices stem from Judaic tradition and have no Islamic backing. Also there are indications in the sayings of Imam Ali  and other religious leaders that providing evidence for adultery is very difficult and probably impossible.

Nevertheless there are Jurists and scholars who believe that the only  forceful response to adultery is stoning. In the Islamic Republic of Iran the verdict of stoning has been given in limited cases,and practiced rarely, while during certain periods internal and external pressures resulted in a moratorium on stoning (in place since 2002). Judicial officials have noted that Imam Khomeini had ordered a halt to this practice in the early years of his leadership.
The recent case of Sakineh Ashtiani, who was indicted on charges of adultery,  found an unprecedented level of coverage and condemnation and has apparently resulted in a review of the verdict by the Iranian judiciary. Having said this I would like to make two points.

The first issue is that according to Islamic tradition and according to modern psychology,the family is the unique cornerstone of human development. To safeguard the family is to protect the rights of the future generation and the society. For the past decades promiscuity, obsession for bodies and looks, the comodification of women and sex has held the upper-hand in Western civilization. Teen pregnancies, single mothers and children with no families are the imminent result of this culture. On the other hand  modesty, protecting the dignity of human beings and the rights of the future generations and the emotional  and moral integrity of the young generation are the concerns that religions follow world wide. These concerns are justified when we see the soaring rates of social and cultural challenges both in industrialized and developing nations prone to western culture and propaganda for the hollow "western lifestyle".

The second point is that the Western media and the neocon  propaganda machine is taking advantage of this matter as well as other obvious weaknesses of the Iranian government to turn their public against Iran and prepare them for an imminent attack or aggression.  This is an unjustified approach that had prevailed in the early years after the Islamic Revolution and today, unfortunately, an incompetent government in Iran is creating pretexts for this unlawful synchronization of public opinion against Iran.
We have to campaign for a revision of the current marital law in which it has been proposed that stoning be deleted. We also have to campaign to restore the authentic image of Islam,which is in many cases,very different from what has been portrayed in Islamic countries.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sanctions will not bring stability

During the past month we have been hearing alot about the new round of sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran initiated by a UN Security Council Resolution and followed by US and EU legislative bills to impose more specific and targeted sanctions. As for the Americans, this has been the general trend after the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and in most areas where the American government had imposed sanctions deals have been made through intermediaries. This had only increased the prices and the risks involved, otherwise you could order whatever you needed in Iran and obtain it ultimately via an intermediary corporate sector in a neighboring country. The new round of sanctions might sound harsher than before and might create more difficult circumstances for the private sector  striving to work in very difficult economic circumstances in Iran. 

I have spoken about sanctions here before and I have mentioned that even though I oppose the current policies of the Ahmadinejad era and believe that their national and international policies deserve serious criticism, but I also firmly believe that sanctions will not help to reduce tensions and to bring more stability and security in the region. The Canadian Prime Minister  Stephen Harper , in response to a question on the effects these sanctions will have on the Iranian people responded today by saying" Instead, these targeted measures are meant to send a strong signal to Iran that the international community expects Iran to meet its international nuclear obligations. They send a message to all states -particularly those with nuclear aspirations -that international standards cannot be flouted without consequences." 

Yet on the contrary as long as countries like Israel continue with their non compliance to the IAEA resolutions and have not reported their nuclear activities, this remains as a double standard policy that  the international community faces now for decades.
The incompetence of international multilateral agreements in dealing with Israel in many respects has sent a very strong signal that international standards can be flouted by certain states, whenever they wish, under the tacit support of certain superpowers.

Read more: Nor will these sanctions make the Middle East more secure. In fact there seems to be a deliberate emphasis on increasing tensions and channelizing public opinion to think that Iran may be actually on the road to, not only building a nuclear bomb, for many countries have done so without actually employing it ( with the exception of the US ).  But,  there is a persistent propaganda effort to implicate that Iran will employ the imaginary bomb, one imaginary day in the infinite future. The deployment of naval ships to the Persian Gulf  and the new spy satellite Israel has launched do not imply a sense of security for a region, already torn apart  by at least four wars during the past three decades.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ceremonies and Rifts

The local media,last week. were obsessed by the stream of accounts,analysis and condemnation flowing after the humiliating actions of a small group of hooligans, apparently preplanned ,to prevent Seyed Hassan Khomeini ( the grandson of Imam) from delivering his speech on the occasion of  the twenty first anniversary of the demise of Imam.  These hooligans freely jeered and sneered at Seyed Hassan under the guise of supporting the Supreme Leader in front of millions of viewers, national and international dignitaries present .

Extremist supporters of Ahmadinejad have been very angry at Seyed Hassan for his independent stance on recent events and for his taking part in the marriage ceremony of the son of Dr. Mohsen Mirdamadi, a reformist leader who has been detained and convicted his progressive thoughts and for leading the Islamic Participation Front.  A photo from that ceremony later emerged in which Seyed Hassan and his brother sat around a table with Mir Hossein Mousavi , Mehdi Karroubi , Seyed Mohammad Khatami , Seyed Mohammad Mousavi Khoeiniha and Seyed Mohammad Mousavi Bojnordi and other reformist diginitaries including many political prisoners who were out on bail.

Since the tragic events of last Friday many religious leaders and political personalities from various political tendencies have condemned those actions and asked judicial authorities to take action. No one has supported this decadent behavior, but some sympathizers of Ahmadinejad  have attempted to justify this action.
This is another sign, in the long string of events in recent years, that indicates a serious rift and distancing  with the original line and thought of Imam Khomeini, now led by a minority that wills to cling to power by any means possible.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Standards of Imam Khomeini

Monday's assault of the Israel Defense Forces on the flotilla of humanitarian aid which was heading to the besieged Gaza Strip from Turkey left at least 16 dead and many others wounded. This terrible event which Israel still attempts to downplay and to somehow justify has shocked the world. This tragedy  could instigate a positive development, only  if it leads to a lifting of the blockade which is suffocating the people of Gaza and if it leads to the awakening of the international community. 

Along with members of the Tehran City Council and the Mayor of Tehran we payed a visit to the Shrine of Imam Khomeini on the twenty first anniversary of his demise. The grandson of Imam, Hojj. Hassan Khomeini was also present.  There is a general feeling among many from our generation, who remember the charismatic and balanced personality of Imam and recall the roadmap that he drew for the Revolution, that some of what he hoped the Islamic Republic would embody has not actualized.  Great strides had  been taken for Iran following the Revolution, but  while enough had not been done, many now admit that the events of  last year  have compromised the moral and spiritual integrity of the Islamic Revolution. There has been a surge of warnings among Reformist leaders and politicians and in the few Reformist newspapers concerning a gradual deviation from the objectives of the Revolution and the ethical standards of Imam.

During the past 5 years some pro Ahmadinejad officials have questioned Imam's belief in democracy and have given the impression that he did not believe in the right of the people to determine their destiny.  Certain clerical figures , Hojj Mesbah Yazdi the most renown among them, have openly propagated a distorted image of Imam's thoughts and actions. They infer that Imam did not believe in the intrinsic right of people to decide for their future.  They insist that the rule of God is in contradiction with the rule of the people. Other decisions in open contradiction with the policies emphasized and decreed by Imam have also surfaced, military forces involved in politics, use of religious beliefs for legitimzing certain  actions, seeing women as second class citizens,  and many other issues. Even the family of Imam and many of the close friends of Imam have been targeted and isolated for criticizing current trends. They have targeted Imam's grandsons for visiting Green political prisoners released on bail. 
The question which lingers in our minds is how much does this country now meet the sublime spiritual , political and economic standards Imam Khomeini set for the Islamic Republic three decades ago? Are we moving towards or away from his dream? 

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Can Friends Criticize the Islamic Republic?

In 1999, as the Vice President of Iran, I attended the official farewell ceremonies for Nelson Mandela who had decided to step down from the Presidency of South Africa. Among other programs in the agenda prepared for my visit, was a speech in a Mosque in Johannesburg . In that speech I referred to the reasons why the reformists had been elected. I mentioned that the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 brought along with it a wave of awakening among Muslim nations as well as a set of new standards for freedom fighters and activists as well as independent thinkers and scholars.  I noted that what happened in Iran became a manifestation of the  power of  religion in mobilizing and revitalizing the masses ,it became  a beacon of hope for downtrodden peoples in Palestine and other parts of the world hoping to restore their rights and gain freedom from oppression and occupation. As the Islamic Republic took shape and resisted pressures and fought sanctions and war, I said that the image of an Islamic democracy came to light and the great strides taken  by the Iranian people emerged amidst  thick clouds of  mis-perceptions and fallacies in the Western media. In the mean time, challenges and rifts among the original founders and supporters of the Revolution also emerged within Iran.
 During these years supporters and sympathizers of the Revolution in the world, grew in numbers and created many social and cultural institutions as part of the civil society they presided in. In this dimension, I noted, they have also closely followed the internal developments and trends  of the Islamic Republic. I then spoke about the internal challenges we face and the  philosophical , ethical and political reasons why we need an ongoing process of reform. I indicated how Imam Khomeini believed that the Revolution would be threatened not only by  foreign elements but also by backwardness, and deviation from the spiritual and ethical values. Therefore, we needed constant oversight by independent bodies  such as the Parliament, civil society, political and religious parties and media to  sort out the problems and prevent illegal action.
In the ensuing question and answer session a few among the audience criticized this approach and indicated that I should not have pointed to the internal challenges of the Islamic Republic. I responded that on the contrary, for those who believe and sympathize with Iran, it is crucial that they understand the pathology and the weaknesses.  I also mentioned that we should all learn from the mistakes, as we have been inspired  from the successes. However, I realized that for some like those in Iran, there is so much stigma attached to this issue that they cannot see things in a realistic and objective manner; that they are always  on the defensive.
After the controversial Presidential elections and tragic events last year, this approach has gained momentum in some analysis and writings of the external supporters of the Revolution . They put forward the argument that the Green Movement was instigated by Western forces and that there is no popular following for them . They also down play the tragic events and suppression of the voices of dissent that ensued.  I doubt that Muslim intellectuals living out of Iran would not have had access to uncensored news and footage about what has happened and is still continuing in Iran .

I also doubt that an objective critical analysis of these events would be to the detriment of the objectives of the Revolution. Denying that any challenge exists or blaming problems all on foreign interference will not serve to strengthen the Islamic democracy in Iran. Today more than ever, the Islamic Revolution would benefit from the objective criticisms of its supporters . As the Prophet SA has said : Your dearest brothers are those who gift you (inform you of ) your problems and shortcomings.

The question that remains is can we tolerate criticism ?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Iran, Nuclear Capability

The world has been witnessing much rhetoric and many diplomatic efforts among world leaders to demonstrate their commitment to the nuclear nonproliferation. This string of diplomatic flurry began with an American conference in which Obama and Medvedev signed a new agreement to disarm their thousands of nuclear warheads. While exposing once again the sheer dimensions of the nuclear arsenal of these two powers , the meeting also underscored the double standards governing world equations today.
Iran,a country that has not attacked any country for the past seven centuries,  is now under heavy pressure for more than eight years , only for the remote possibility that its well inspected peaceful nuclear program might one day, deviate into producing one single nuclear warhead. Israel, which constantly threatens and attacks its neighboring occupied territories  for that matter, has skillfully escaped international scrutiny on its alleged piles of hundreds of nuclear warheads, up to now.
Apart from the basically sound and rational argument  to promote peaceful nuclear energy in Iran, a position which is common to all political groups, Reformists believe that the current government has not properly managed our diplomatic potentials to avert resolutions on sanctions and unnecessary pressures from the international community on this matter.  Reformists  had taken the same basic position during President Khatami but their approach and delivery method was different .
Taking part with a high level delegation in New York is one matter, but putting things in the proper context and allowing  for allies and foes to align themselves, not with overheated rhetoric, but with some of the very just and rationale positions Iran has take before, is another. We should press for our rights at the international level emphasizing more on our logical stance and the unfair policies that powerful states impose on the global community.
Still suffering from a credibility crisis in domestic policies, Ahmadinejad has not come forward with the convincing and successful diplomacy that the Islamic Republic of  Iran deserves in these difficult times. However, there is some hope that pressure from Iran and other Islamic nations may lead to some changes,  in the unfair approach on Israel and Iran. The Associated Press reported yesterday that,  Israel's secretive nuclear activities may undergo unprecedented scrutiny next month, with a key meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency tentatively set to focus on the topic for the first time.

A copy of the restricted provisional agenda of the IAEA's June 7 board meeting lists "Israeli nuclear capabilities" as the eighth item — the first time that that the agency's decision-making body is being asked to deal with the issue in its 52 years of existence.Inclusion of the item appeared to be the result of a push by the 18-nation Arab group of IAEA member nations, which last year successfully lobbied another agency meeting — its annual conference — to pass a resolution directly criticizing Israel and its atomic program.
Now that Iran and Syria have become regular items in the Agency's agenda, it is about time that the Agency also attends to the affairs of this illegitimate child, Israel who is also very bullish and tries to be  one of a kind everywhere.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Oil Spill (Past and Present)- Gulf of Mexico, Persian Gulf

Blogspot was somewhat "filtered" or "blocked"  for a few days in Iran and that prevented me from posting a new item this week. The problem got into the news and they fixed it a few days ago. Although access to the internet in cities throughout Iran has increased significantly but recently internet connections have been slow and in many instances cut off during certain sensitive periods. This unreliable internet status has damaged both business and scientific exchanges, which in addition to extensive filtering of political news and analysis sites leaves communications in Iran in a difficult predicament.  Many observers have studied and analyzed the problems that internet users are facing in Iran, they have come to the conclusion that both technical and political issues are involved and that we need  reliable, efficient and secure internet connections to ensure social and economic progress. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic has quaranteed basic freedoms including access to information.  However, interpretations on the Constitution vary and in practice things have been very different.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has created a wave of concern for environmentalists throughout the world. The event awakened my memories of the oil spill created during the Iraqi  aggression against Iran and the Iraqi aggression against Kuwait. Thousands of barrels of oil spilled into the Persian Gulf which is a semi-closed body of water with significant biodiversity. More than 12 million inhabitants live on the borders of the Persian Gulf, mostly in Iran, but also in Arab States. Tehran University had held the first International Conference on the Effects of Oil Spill in the Persian Gulf under the leadership of my late father Dr. Taghi Ebtekar , in 1984. Many international scholars had attended and presented their assessment of the situation.  During my tenure as the Vice President and Head of the Department of Environment, we endeavored to strengthen the international mechanisms including the ROPME organization programs to protect the sea. We also conducted two research cruises in the Persian Gulf  to survey the water quality and the biota. In addition, Iran presented an environmental damage claim to the UN Compensation Committee against Saddam Hussein for the destruction of the marine environment and we conducted 8 marine research  projects in the area as supportive evidence for the Claim. The results indicated the scale of the widespread damage that oil had inflicted upon the coral reef, seagrass populations, costal areas and other biodiversity. Tar balls with the specificity of oil from Iraqi  wells and soot from the burning of the wells was still observable in costal areas.  Tens of millions of dollars of damage were estimated as part of the environmental costs inflicted. We adopted several clean up projects in 2005 prior to  the elections when the Government changed.
Considering the state of relations between the two countries I doubt that Americans would ask for any advice or learn from our experiences in this regard ,but I do hope that they could take swift and serious action to address the matter and control the damage to the global ecosystem.