Monday, March 22, 2010

A Fairly Objective Assessment

When I was young I used to see everything either black or white, I was an idealist like many young people of my age. Iran was on the brink of an Islamic Revolution and young people like me were deeply committed to a justice seeking democratic movement based on Islamic values. Thirty one years later, I see things in a different light , as do many of my generation. We still cherish those authentic values, yet we have realized how difficult and complex it is to implement them. We also understand that today, alongside multiple internal factors, the looming external threats to the existence of the Islamic Republic,  exemplified by the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan , are major factors preventing the full democratization of Iran. In a sense, foreign threats and intimidation have created a pretext for implementing harsh security measures and suppression of any opposition or criticism in the internal scene.   Now, once again  as the Western rhetoric against Iran gained momentum, pressures escalated against the Green Movement and it was labeled as a foreign plot to destabilize the country. I just read an article by George Haeseler whom I do not know, but I think his assessment of the situation is fairly objective. I will    link the article for your information.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Greetings for Nowruz





Wednesday, March 17, 2010

International Day of Nowruz

Nowruz has been finally designated as an International Day by the United Nations General Assembly and this event has been registered in the name of Iran. Nowruz is a celebration for all since it is based on the change in earth's axis which defines the end of winter and the begining of spring. It is the revival of life, the renewal of hope and light.
Nowruz is celebrated by many countries in the region and some of the rituals are very similar . Most Central Asian Republics have joyful ceremonies and rituals.  The rituals are very meaningful and inspiring . Taking the energy and warmth from the fire on Charshanbe Suri to spreading a tablecloth for seven blessings from God, green sprouts, apples, cooked wheat sprouts,..... Nowruz is a source of hope for Iranians after a very difficult year. It is an indication that life will proceed and the truth will prevail, we only need to persevere.



21 March 2010

The General Assembly’s decision this year to recognize the International Day of Nowruz is evidence of a growing global awareness of the holiday’s significance not only in the regions where it is celebrated but around the world.

For millennia, when the sun crosses the equator and the northern hemisphere enters Spring, peoples in the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East and other regions have carried out their own special traditions in celebration of Nowruz. These rituals, from repainting homes to visiting friends to preparing symbolic meals, are infused with a spirit of renewal and can inspire not only those conducting them but all people.

As we commemorate this first International Day of Nowruz, I hope countries and people around the world will draw on this festival’s history and customs to promote harmony with the natural world and foster global peace and goodwill .

Friday, March 12, 2010

Palestine and Reformists

I was invited to deliver a speech for the Secretariat of the Conference for Support for Palestine last week. The Secretariat has a Student Committee that holds meetings every month. This Secretariat is supported by the Iranian Majlis and is headed by Mr. Mohatashemipour, the former Minister of Interior and Ambassador to Syria who was injured two decades ago in a letter bomb blast believed to be planted by Israeli agents in Damascus. Mohtashamipour headed the the sensitive committee of " protecting votes" in the election campaign of Mir Hossein Mousavi in the recent Presidential elections. His committee brought up serious questions concerning the election and vote counting processes last year.
Now,  he only heads the Secretariat  and pro-government supporters in the Parliament have threatened to remove him from this office.
I spoke last week about the historical support that Iranian people have provided for Palestine even before the Revolution. I also recalled how the Muslim Students Following the Line of Imam had  convened the first International Conference of Freedom Seeking Movements in the World in 1979.Different Palestianian groups had attended our conference then. I noted that support for the oppressed, for freedom seeking peoples and for Muslims throughout the world has been part of the integral objectives of the Islamic Revolution. Now, different political groups and tendencies in Iran all support the Palestinian cause and the Intifadha and this is a point of unity for them. I then pointed to certain challenges, that Reformists see in this regard. The national government run Radio and Television has taken a very one-sided and biased approach on this matter and this has adversely influenced public opinion. I also pointed that silence or lack of official support for other Muslim minorities in countries like Chechenya , China and Kashmir has created an atmosphere of mistrust. As an Islamic country, we need to keep a rational and just position on this matter and certain radical positions taken by high level officials, such as the denial of the holocaust has not been helpful in this regard. I criticized the policies of the current government noting that in many economic , diplomatic and social areas they have not met expectations thus weakening our national and international roles.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Environmental Awards

The Center for Peace and Environment had it's annual awards ceremony in the name of the late Dr.Taghi Ebtekar, my father who passed away 9 years ago. The Center for Peace and Environment  ( has now convened this Award for five rounds, acknowledging each time, the efforts and achievements of scientists and scholars in the field of environmental research. At least six months ahead, the Center announces its conditions and invites qualified scholars to take part through ads in major newspapers. Once candidates send their credentials and the deadline is over, the Board of Referees begins the nomination process. In addition to the main prize, journalists in the field of the environment are also acknowledged for the difficult work they perform. This year two scientists,one specializing in biodiversity and the other in air pollution were selected. Three journalists and a newspaper Etellat were chosen for their role in reporting on environmental challenges and issues that the country faces.
Seyyed Mohammad Khatami , the former President of the Islamic Republic of Iran was our guest of honor. After presenting the prizes, he spoke on the importance of peace as the prerequisite for development and human advancement. "If we perceive human nature as inherently aggressive and in pursuit of war then peace becomes an entity that must be enforced and will face instability. On the other hand if we view human nature inherently peace seeking, then peace becomes a natural entity that can be safeguarded to promote stability ."  Khatami continued "We need to realize that Peace is the essential requirement of humanity both at national and international levels. At national levels intolerance and violence are on the rise and at the international levels war, occupation and aggression at the hands of powerful governments are widespread." We need to condemn the violent attitudes that intend to promote tensions and conflicts,  particularly when this attitude is presented under the guise of religion and sacred objectives, Khatami stressed.  Finally, he stressed, peace with nature and the environment is an integral aspect of peace and the global conditions we face in today's world are the result of an ongoing war against the ecosystem.
After the speech most of the guests wanted to take photographs with Khatami. It seems that after all the pressures, smearing campaigns and threats against him , his popularity has mysteriously risen!