Category Archives: Iran

Quote of the week: Naj on Tehran

I have in the past mentioned the blog Neo-resistance, “…an Iranian woman. I am tired of hearing Iranian women are chained creatures who need sympathy or liberation. I am not a feminist; that is why my tales are those of resilience.”

I would have stood behind Ahmadinejad, if he had not become the face of fascism.

I would have been now cheering the glorious images of a massively attended election, over 42 million out of some 49 million eligible voters participating in the election.

I would have been posting images of happy men and women, rural and urban, rich and poor, lined up to vote.

I would have been standing tall in front of the world, and would have said "look, Iran is not the backward dictatorship that your media is projecting it to be."

I would have … ONLY if the "passionate outbursts after soccer game"-as stupidly uttered by that ugly man–were not faced with bullets and batons!

I would have … ONLY if the headquarters of the opposite parties to Ahmadinejad had NOT been raided, tear gassed, and closed

I would have … ONLY if the foreign journalists were not kicked out and the internal reporters were not intimidated

I would have … ONLY if I had not seen pictures of ununiformed, ugly, angry men holding knives to unarmed gigolos

I would have … ONLY if the result of 42 million votes were NOT released in less than 24 hours!!! If the election monitors were allowed to monitor the count!!! If there was at least a small gesture that "sure, we do re-count for the respect of our democratic process, instead of shedding blood!"

This is NOT religion versus democracy …

This is fascism versus humanity …

— 15 June 2009

Here is one of pictures she posted yesterday.


Click on the picture to see more.


Three blogs from Iraq or Iran

Once upon a time (2003-4 especially) Salam Pax was one of the most famous blogs in the world. It has also appeared in book form. Now it has revived after a long hiatus, appearing now with its archives intact on WordPress.


Always very human and very witty in the past, Salam Pax is back on form. See also I want Baghdad to feel like home again.

I have been out of Iraq for almost two years now. The Baghdad I left in 2007 was not the city I had grown up in and loved. She had become so different, so violent, so not herself that I didn’t feel I was abandoning her.

I remember the moment when it felt as if leaving wasn’t a choice, but a very clear necessity. I was sitting in my pyjamas on the ground in our front garden; my father, mother and aunt crouched beside me, also in their pyjamas. Two American soldiers pointed these absurdly large rifles at us and an unnecessarily aggressive Iraqi translator hissed: "We know you have explosives in this house. It’s better for you to tell us where they are than us going through the whole place and finding them." …

So, two years later, after all that, what on earth am I doing back here?

I wish I could say that it is a wider general trend of Iraqis returning. If you were following the news after the US "surge" and the widely publicised improvement in the security situation since that time, you might have the impression that Iraqis were returning in big numbers. The truth is many of those who did go back left shortly afterwards again, having found their homes occupied by other people, or their neighbourhoods still unsafe. But many of those kept returning, bringing more family members with them: one foot in Iraq and the other holding the door open just in case a quick retreat was needed. That’s where my family and I are now.

Since the war started, Baghdad has become for me the sort of place where you can never really judge how it is until you are there. Listening to the news from afar can be confusing and rarely gives you the full picture. When I moved to Beirut three months ago the picture got slightly less blurry. And now I want to see if the situation really has improved….

The other very famous Iraq blog Baghdad Burning – published as two books! – has not yet re-appeared. It is still worth reviewing the archives, however.

The third blog comes from Iran.


It is well worth visiting. 

And I have to acknowledge finding this one through Dangerous Creation, which itself has found more focus in recent times and has attracted a following from a number of new readers. My relations with that blog have been troubled, as many of you know, but it is only right to mention it in this context since without it I would not have seen Neo-resistance. If you have been to DC lately you’ll have formed your own opinion; I still look in on it and there are things to think about there, even if my blog is chalk to its cheese. This — Neo-Human, All Too Neo-Human – is pure coincidence, referring to The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq and written in 2007; but it is an odd coincidence.

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Posted by on February 19, 2009 in blogging, Iran, Iraq, other blogs



Hacking Christianity and another blog, and a related item

Hacking Christianity is the blog of US Uniting Methodist pastor Jeremy Smith, a rather progressive person it would appear. It certainly is the most amazing blog in terms of its use of the medium. I would even commend it to my atheist readers on that score; this guy is really Internet savvy. For myself, I find much of his content very congenial: “a bottom-up faith in a top-down world.”

On similar grounds it is nice to see some in the Catholic Church are looking at World Youth Day through Christian eyes.

A CATHOLIC priest has said the money being spent on World Youth Day is an embarrassment and a scandal.

Father Peter Confeggi, a parish priest at Mount Druitt, said there was also a “large amount of dissatisfaction” with the spirituality that will be taught during the event, with many fearing it would be a right-wing brand of Catholicism.

Others within the church who did not want to be named told The Sun-Herald of similar concerns about the six-day event, which will cost the church an estimated $150million and NSW taxpayers at least $86million.

“There is a great dissatisfaction with the Restorationist spirituality, which is also devoid of any commitment to social justice,” Father Confeggi said.

Father Confeggi said his parish was one of the most disadvantaged in Sydney. He said the church and state funds could be directed elsewhere, including to the 120,000 people sleeping homeless in Australia or education of the disadvantaged.

“To keep the church doors open here in Mount Druitt we scratch week after week after week,” he said.

“The bottom line is this is a gross embarrassment to the church that I serve.”

Father Confeggi said it was an “utter scandal” that a chalice, Communion plate and vessel to hold Communion hosts – adorned by Argyle diamonds and being made for a rumoured six-figure sum – would be given to the Pope.

I think he says it all really.

Another blog came my way through my WordPress stats on who has clicked out from my blog lately: Friday in Cairo is a newish blog by Will Ward who brings to his interest in the Near East considerable cultural knowledge, unlike many who have opinions on the subject. This entry particularly attracted my attention: Preparing the PR Battlefield. Read the rest of this entry »


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Reset – Dialogues on Civilizations | Essays: Benjamin Barber

benjaminBarber Can Islam Accommodate Democracy Or Democracy Accommodate Islam? by Benjamin Barber is one of the offerings this weekend from Arts & Letters Daily. Barber was known to me mostly for his 1995 book Jihad vs McWorld, of which you may form some idea from this 1992 Atlantic Monthly essay of the same name, which I read at the time. Subsequent events have made it more relevant.

The picture on the left and the quotation on the right below are from Barber’s site, linked at his name above.

The essay from A&L is a paper presented by the author at the Istanbul Seminars organized by Reset Dialogues on Civilizations in Istanbul from June 2nd to the 6th 2008.

There is a powerful rhetoric around today that claims Islam – not just fundamentalist or Wahhabist or Safalist Islam, but Islam itself is a religion hostile to democracy. Hostile not only to liberty, pluralism and the open society, but to modernity itself as it is defined by liberal values. The attitude evident in Samuel Huntington’s discredited notion of a “clash of civilizations” in which the West and the rest are locked in a struggle for survival, so foreign to discussions like our here in Istanbul, in fact remains ubiquitous in Western politics and media.

quote It is found not only in Bush’s zealous conduct of a disastrous war on the “axis of evil,” or Donald Rumsfeld’s assertion that Islamic fundamentalism is a “new form of fascism;” or in right wing paranoiac events like David Horowitz’s “Islamofascism Awareness Week,” but is reflected also in writings of liberals like Paul Berman who talk about how the West is “beset with terrorists from the Muslim totalitarian movements who have already killed an astounding number of people;” or in scholars like Bernard Lewis who announce in hushed tones of sympathy that “the world of Islam has become poor, weak and ignorant;” or in Muslim apostates like Ali Hirsi who combine a seemingly liberal appeal to feminist values with a total rejection of not just fundamentalism but Islam itself.

These arguments may in their polemical zealotry beyond rational rebuttal, but Professor Habermas would I think prefer that they be rationally confronted and refuted. That is certainly my view if we wish to get on with the difficult work of crafting democracy in societies that take religion seriously – nearly all societies. I want to offer six straightforward arguments, some historical, some sociological, and some philosophical – all reasonable and commonsensical in the broader sense of rational – that suggest why it is absurd to think that Islam cannot accommodate democracy or that democracy cannot accommodate Islam…

It would require a separate essay to suggest how deeply perverse the typical American understanding of democratization is when it comes to “helping” others achieve liberty.
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Posted by on July 5, 2008 in America, culture wars, current affairs, faith and philosophy, fundamentalism and extremism, globalisation/corporations, History, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Political, politics, religion, terrorism, USA


Calculated sabre rattling…

…which seems to have succeeded, but Hillary Clinton’s use of the term “obliterate” I thought quite unwise, for much the same reason Barack Obama gives.

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Posted by on April 23, 2008 in America, current affairs, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Political, politics, USA


Crazy world

Look, whatever else George Bush has been doing at this time in his dying presidency one thing seems horribly possible: passing on a really stupid war against Iran to whoever succeeds him. That and an economy approaching meltdown. So aside from making yet another effort in the Israel/Palestine thing, he seems to have been shoring up support for his Iran policy and begging for relief on oil prices.

Things in Iraq, though, are marginally better, or so we are told — so long as we don’t think too hard about how we have got there, and the general irrelevance of it all to what 9/11 represented.

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Posted by on January 16, 2008 in current affairs, Iran, Israel, politics, USA


Iran still a danger, nukes or no nukes: Bush

So begins the ABC News report.

US President George W Bush says Iran remains a threat to the world despite new intelligence saying the country may not be building nuclear weapons.

Yesterday a US intelligence report said Iran halted its program to develop nuclear weapons in 2003, but added that it had continued to enrich uranium. Dubbed the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), the report represents the considered judgement of all America’s intelligence agencies.

Mr Bush says the report is a warning signal and his view that a nuclear Iran will be a danger has not changed.

“I believed before the NIE that Iran is dangerous and I believe after the NIE that Iran is dangerous,” he said. “To me the NIE provides an opportunity for us to rally the international community to pressure the Iranian regime to suspend its program.”

The US President also warns that Iran could restart its covert weapons program.

The British Foreign secretary David Miliband says the international community needs to maintain diplomatic pressure on Iran.

“It confirms that there remains a significant enrichment problem,” he said. “Enrichment of uranium being a potential source of nuclear weapons. Secondly it shows diplomacy can work and it is the diplomatic track that United Kingdom efforts are focused.”

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Posted by on December 5, 2007 in current affairs, Iran, politics, USA