My Old Home

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

On Calmy-Rey's Headscarf in Iran

This letter of mine is already published on the website both in English and Persian languages:

Ms. Micheline Calmy-Rey,
Foreign minister of Swiss,

Recently you came to Iran in order to be observer of signing a natural gas deal between my country and a Switzer company of your country. The economic events of this kind are not any longer surprising for us, nor are joyous. Rather, considering present conditions in which our state is under UN sanctions, such big deals, of details of which we do not become aware at all, appearing to be a bad news. The politicians of my country are trying to pretend that their radicalism would not have any negative feedback in the economy and security of the people, then, they might tend to be more generous than before in such big deals. Probably that is why you were in Iran, an unfortunate event and deplorable for all of us Iranian, but not certainly for you. Because you came here in order to serve your nation. Welcome! What, however, impelled me to write this letter to you, is the way you were wearing in the aforementioned session, the point which was objected by your compatriots too. Let me address you here, not as a mere Iranian, rather as a man taking himself to be an advocate of women's rights in Iran.

Replying to this criticism, you pointed out that you had to be observant of local customs of your host. Let me ask you whether when the politicians of Islamic Republic of Iran comes to an European country would show any respect, as an illustrative example, to the custom of "serving alcoholic drinks at table" of yours? As far as I know, the answer is absolutely no! Removing the alcoholic drinks from the dinner table of western countries has been always a precondition of their present requested by them politely, but obligatorily! In other words, they bring their customs to your countries, because they take their own customs as universal, not as local!

This is the case with us in Iran. The most part of what Islamic Republic Regime takes to be Islamic customs, just by a small minority of people are accepted indeed as Islamic ones. They, however, impose these customs upon all society. Having read this news mentioned above, I was wondering whether Miss Calmy-Rey knows that in the state of Mr. Ahmadinejad, as the first time in the history of Islamic Republic Regime, police has been officially allowed to arrest women in the street for several hours – and even beats them as in some few cases happened – just for not having enough Islamic veil. Do you know what regulations of Islamic veil are? Let me notify you, for instance, wearing boots so that they are showing is enough reason to arrest a woman; that is a rule! I am myself a witness of implementing that. I was wondering whether Miss Calmy-Rey knows that she has met a man who has tried to facilitate legally polygamy in his country through removing the precondition of the first wife's permission in next marriages.

As a man and as an Iranian I appreciate that you have made an issue of human rights in that meeting. That was not your official task; rather, it shows your philanthropy well. That is really admirable. Having become aware of your concerns about women rights, I wrote this letter addressing you in the hope of making you more steadfast than before in your philanthropic positions. Unfortunately, all what are happening in America and Europe are not wholly, as you might know, according to the declaration of human rights. In France, for example, some girls are prohibited from entering to their school because of having Islamic headscarf. Although not agreed with Islamic headscarf, I do strongly disagree with imposing any special way of wearing upon men and women; something which – I am sure – you understand and confirm. But, we lose sometimes our immovable purpose when something appearing to be the matter of economic or the matter of national/religious identity, arise. It is essential that France state and Swiss state as well as Islamic Republic state of Iran prefer the fundamental rights of the man to their own economical and political interests. You might confirm that with dedications of this kind we would have a better world.

With all due respects
Nima Ghasemi


Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Movie 300

These pictures belong to the movie 300 in which Leonidas; Spartan commander can overcome Xerxes and his millennial hosts. Unfortunately, I could not watch this movie yet, and then commenting on it is difficult for me.

In this movie, as described, Persian soldiers are characterized like monsters and barbarians. This, obviously, is offensive and inflammatory for all Iranian who consider their ancient past to be their historical majesty and seriously glory in. Subsequently, we sign a petition addressing the 300' producers in order to show our protest. "Sorry for this historical distortion", I wrote as my comment, "probably, a western sophisticated one should be aware of dangerous outcomes of such a mythologizing the history!" Any mythologizing, in fact, ignores some aspects of the reality and reflects it as misshaped, exaggerated and unreal. How we can believe these pictures while we believe, at the same time, that the first universal declaration of human rights is historically written by such monsters as them! By "historical distortion", I meant this.

Of course, I can certainly accept that a movie can take a mythical sphere. But I do not think we are permitted to advance in mythologizing to such an extent that we offend the other nations, particularly considering present political climate in which we, as it were, are about to a catastrophic war. Apparently, audiences in Berlin have asked such questions as which one was Bush, Leonidas or Xerxes?! This means they are also completely observant of the movie's political connotations under the circumstances.

As far as our political authorities are concerned, they are not, to my mind, honest in challenging over the nuclear problem. In fact, they are trying to change over more important problems, that one of them, for instance, is the problem of human rights to the problem for which all Iranian are ready to support. In the nuclear game, they are aggressive rather than defendant and this is one of the possible way by which they can be supported by all Iranians all over the world. In the other problems they are trying to forget and put away, the nation is aggressive and the regime is defendant. Another way by which the regime can ally the nation with itself is provoking nationalism among them. And this is exactly what producers of the movie 300 are helping to be done.

It seems for most of countries of the world what they call nuclear threat of Iran is much more important than human rights. The fact that human rights in its first cradle is now in danger, is not deniable. I wish the UN concentrate on the problem of human rights in Iran instead of nuclear program. After all, according to the NPT protocol, we are right logically to access nuclear technology. But, the council of human rights of UN has put aside Iran's folder unfortunately.


Monday, September 11, 2006

11th september

When it happened I was in the north of the Iran where I was studying at BS. I exactly remember the time in which we watched by television that terrorizing act. I felt sympathy for American people but, at first, I was wondering why Judaic employees could be off on that horrible day! I never understand it was true news or only was a lie.

I felt immediately it would be a starting point for important changes all over the world especially in political problems. Now I can see clearly it was right.

Ancient people were dividing whole of the time into several periods each of which had its own characteristics. They, in fact, had a strong sense regarding the time that Ernst Cassirer call it “sense of phases”. In the end of each period some new elements belonging to the next period will emerge and impose themselves upon existing circumstances. It will create powerful and immense challenges between old and new elements. In the most recent forms of archaic thought, Islam and Christianity, these challenges have been called “apocalyptic events”. I am not – in the correct sense of the word – a religious man. But I can perceive religious point of view. Then, I have always considered these five years in this viewpoint.

To my mind, the war between USA and Middle East States is not a war between Christianity and Islam. But, first and foremost, is a war between the youngest country and those countries containing the oldest cultures. It recalls the challenge between every young people and old one. Regarding this fact, the war between America and Iran should be the most important stage of this challenge. Inasmuch as since 1979 revolution, we have had a State which emphasize strongly on the archaic elements of our culture. This culture is not so much Islamic as Persian. Shiism – as Henry Corbin had pointed out – is the Persian spirit in the Islamic cloths; the Iranian volksgeist which is reflected in Arabic words and names, although is itself older than them! Then, if you pay attention carefully, you can hear nationalistic motifs in political statements of both American and Iranian politicians. I think, Islam for our volksgeist and Christianity for American volksgeist are mere useful instruments to provoke the other nations and to get drawn them into this challenge.

We must bear in mind every new period would emerge through synthesizing old and new components of the culture. They would create as thesis and anti- thesis a synthesis which will bring about cultural sphere of the future world. Thus, we must say, the future world, is neither merely western nor eastern, but a unified world. I guess we are going toward such circumstances.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Women and Ethics in Iran

Henry Bamford Parks, in his book "Gods and Men" (chapter of Axial Period) introduces the Iranian people as a moral and ethical nation historically. This characteristic, for instance, is reflected in ancient Iranian religion, Zoroastrianism, in the form of belief in challenging between good and evil powers all over the world. About our morality, there is so much to speak of. I do not wish to deal with the role of ethics in our every day life, and our thought, and even; our political behavior. I propose just to make a few points in this regard.

Recently, our outlandish president, Ahmadinejad, who has astonished not only others but also ourselves, has declared that women are allowed to enter the stadium in order to watch football! Certainly, it is very interesting for people from other countries to learn that Iranian women indeed have not been allowed to enter the stadiums yet! It is unfortunately true. In fact, there is no law against entering the stadium for women, but practically they have been hindered until now because of what is called immoral conditions in stadiums: women ought not to be in any immoral milieu/environment. Proponents of women's rights – which I esteem myself one of them – made an attempt, but it was of no avail. After enacting a law in parliament in order to limit women's freedom in dressing, Ahmadinejad wanted to redress its bad feedback in public opinion. Then, he charged respective authorities in order that women would be allowed to watch football at close range hereafter.

However, it cost him dear! Religious authorities – whom we call AYATOLLAH, which means the signs of God – protested to this order! They say that watching the naked legs of male players is sinful for women! Their protest stopped the president's order!

All of us, and especially our regime, claim that we are a moral nation. Our stadiums, however, are not safe ethically for our women and the naked legs of our men tempt our women! Is this not an obvious paradox? The more ridiculous thing is religious authorities' reaction. Instead of asking why, they deprive women of their undeniable right in using public services! They are responsible for the moral situation of the society. So, first, they must answer such questions as why we are such a bad people, such a sexual people in a way our women cannot take part in public gatherings! But, they make no attempt to ask these questions; instead they deprive women of their rights more and more!

By saying such things, we are in fact proving ourselves to be impure people. We are confessing that at least many of us are very bad persons in terms of moral criteria. I think a strong emphasis on ethical principles (or generally on formalities) often results in the complete reverse effect on some part of society. Just as you would find in England Lords – who are very demure and courteous persons – beside strapped people, in Iran you can see very pure people beside rotten people! Sometimes even these two paradoxical characters gather with each other in one person!

We must learn to be open with every thing such as ethics. But, religious authorities cannot train us about this. It is one of the interesting facts in our culture that sometimes we must rebel against the clergy for the sake of making progress in morality! For this reason in the past some branches of Sufism (Malamati) acted to contravene ethical principles publicly. They wanted to break formalities. It was a moral treatment by them.

The photo you are watching is from Azadi stadium where most of the important plays have been held. Azadi means freedom. But, half of people – who are female – are banned to enter it! Isn't that funny?


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Equilibrium in development

Nowrooz holiday passed.
I had a good holiday rather than previous years. We – I and my family – went to the north of the country, like so many other people. Masooleh is a small town in the north that we viewed it. It was so beautiful because of its green nature. I had taken some photos of there, but my nice camera fell into the ground and became flawed. I wish that I can upload those photos here. But now...

This photo you are seeing is from the scene in front of my home in Tehran. I took it by the mobile's camera. Our alley's name is "Behesht" that means paradise. (Paradise itself comes from "Pardis", other Old Persian word which means Behesht!) These pink blossoms are the most prominent indicative of spring in our alley. I can watch this beautiful tree when I am in my room from behind the window.

Tonight when I arrived at my English class, the teacher congratulated us, for we are able now to enrich uranium up to 3.5 percent! Of course, there was irony in his accent. There are several reasons for this irony. Previous night when an old friend sent a message to say congratulations to me, I told him:" Dear friend! I think being happy for this, requires – at least – to some extent political unawareness. Even, it is possible that regime loses its survival for this subject, how can it keep this technology for us? And at any rate, America will not allow us to have nuclear technology. Then why you are happy?"

Regardless of political situation, having nuclear technology is not so logical for us. Development must be balanced. We can not have regress in some parts and progress in other parts. I think, especially in this State, we are going back rapidly and seriously in some parts such as economical, cultural and political development. As a citizen, I do not want nuclear technology instead of losing those things. Announcing to reach to the nuclear knowledge, the State's improper behaviors are still in full force. It can be a conspiracy to misguide people so that they do not pursue their more fundamental problems.

That is why there is irony in our congratulating.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Now that I am writing these sentences, some minutes later Nowrooz will come.

Nowrooz is great celebration of Iranian culture and, doubtlessly, one of the most archaic celebrations all over the world. Our calendar is solar. For Iranians, since thousands years ago, the moment which everything in the nature begins to rebirth, has been very important and even – I can say – magic! In Persian language, "now" means new, fresh, and "rooz" means day.

The religious political regime established after 1979 revolution, often has divided ceremonies and rites into two groups: national ceremonies and religious ceremonies. Of course, this dividing is rooted in people's conception. In the past, some religious authorities like Ghazali (who lived about ten centuries ago), was considering Nowrooz ceremony as an unholy/pagan rite and was rejecting it. In fact, after collapsing Sasanian Empire in 642 AD, prevailing Islam among Iranian as a foreign religion emerged a duality in the surface of Iranian consciousness: at first sight, our religion was from Arab, and other parts of our culture were Persian. But, this duality, there is only in surface and not in depth. Because, Iranian along the time make some changes in the formal and common version of Islam and they create a new version called Shiism which has characteristics of Persian religions.

I do not want to elaborate on Persian elements in Shiism. (Perhaps I would deal with this subject in next posts.) But, awakening of this point that actual political structure in Iran, despite its Islamic tendency, is completely Persian (through Persian elements in Shiism), time after time has made me astonishing. This is a monumental reality which is concealed and usually there has been a trend to cushion it by religious and non- religious people both! Advocates of religion conceal it in order to demonstrate authenticity and originality of Shiism and secular people – especially those who are nationalist – conceal it in order to pretend ancient Iranian with their glorious and imposing political power, were behaving another way.

Whereas, ancient Iranian were completely religious people and all their ceremonies have had religious content, as other ancient people were like this.

According to Shahnameh – the book of our national stories – Keikhosrow who was the most spiritual personality in our national stories, has had a great mysterious revelation in Nowrooz. Then, these moments are so holy and spiritual. And Nowrooz must consider not only national, but also religious ceremony of Iranian people.

The photo you are seeing is the "haftseen" table in my home which is a rite in Nowrooz.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

My Old Home

Iran is my old home, and the old home of so many people living here.
Every old home is expected that would be collapsed in someday, whether its inhabitants would be survived or be buried under it.
Everything is indicative a big earthquake. The more we study newspapers, and the more we become award of economic, political, security situation of the country, the more we see fearful ghost of the bad days which are coming toward us.
The most disastrous thing is the war. The war which, as it were, is unavoidable for all of us.
According to Hegel, every country's destiny is made up by its volksgeist.
Ernst Cassirer says: "it is not by its history that the mythology of a nation is determined but, conversely, its history is determined by its mythology – or rather, the mythology of a people does not determine but is its fate, its destiny as decreed from the very beginning."
I am a typical Persian person in terms of my awareness of my country's culture. I know its mythology, its religion, its language and its literature. I like to find relations between what are about to happen, and what is our volksgeist.
Then, I intend to make this notepad as a chronology of the events with my comments. These comments, would be written by a Persian who likes his country with all its past, however, likes his country's future too. And the latter, give me courage to keep a critical approach about our past. And it is expected from a student of philosophy too.
I live in Tehran now because of my University and I will try to make my web log updated once a week regularly.