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September 25, 2003

Visa Problems
Kaveh Khodjasteh  [info|posts]

Visa.jpg I am studying in Canada. My citizenship is Iranian; I have to get a visa and a study permit to enter and study in Canada, like many other international students. I'll need a visa to return to Canada everytime I leave say for a conference or for a visit back home in Iran but I can usually get that visa. It will normally take no more than a month [I once had to wait for three months, but then they had lost my medical file].

If you are an international student studying in the United States, the procedure is very similar to the above, except that if you are from one of those trouble-making countries, including Iran.

Before Sept. 11th, the normal process for citizens of these "rogue" [a pre "axis of evil" term] countries included a one month background check and an a tough interview in which normally the visa applicants would have to prove that they had no intention of staying in the US beyond their intended study period. Iranian students who were planning to study in the US would thus be prepared for these interviews and would [with many difficulties still] have had a decent hope of getting their visas in time.

After Sept. 11th the procedure changed: The background check period increased dramatically and indefinitely. Many studenets were stranded and missed their research/course/teaching responsibilities and uncounted months of their time was wasted. The treatment of these students became that of common criminals and petty thieves instead of academics. In effect the new visa procedures have reduced the number of incoming graduate students (form all countries, actually) and reserach staff in American universities, up to a point that even some tutorial classes have been cancelled [Look at here and here, you can find more on their website on this issue]

I will not add my personal feelings and thoughts on this issue which has affected many of my friends but instead I invite everyone to have a look at this petition and add their words on this to be shared [Thanks to Pedram Mo'alemian][I just did some editing on this post].

Comments
Hossein at September 25, 2003 05:36 PM [permalink]:

Kaveh,

Thanks a lot for bringing up this issue. I actually wanted to write something about it, but I was so busy.
It's really frustrating now. Every morning I check my email hoping that there is some good news from my friends who are stuck back home. ("stuck" is maybe not a good word to use, but is it something else?)

I've heard that even some Reps and Senators have contacted US embassies on behalf of students and faculties who are waiting but they've been said that the source of the problem is in Washington.

Unfortunately we can't do anything about it. (signing the petition may help though.)

Arash Bateni at September 25, 2003 05:43 PM [permalink]:

I applied for US visa in April 03 to attend a conference in June. The visa was not ready in time and I missed the conference. That wasn't really a problem since a colleague presented the work and our manuscript published in the proceeding.

The funny point is that as a curiosity I called the US consulate two weeks ago to enquire about my visa. The lady said that it is not ready yet please call next week!!!

I wonder what kind of stupid process it is that takes 6 months for a visa?! These guys are really paranoid!

yahya at September 25, 2003 06:38 PM [permalink]:

Believe it or not, it is not clear for most of Americans that visitors/immigrants contribute greatly to the United States. They don't see it as something that benefit both sides, people who come here and Americans who are born here. As a result, visa has been treated as a privilege that is given to foreigners, and they should not be complaining.

Another factor is that there is no pressure mechanism on the State Dept or INS(now under Home Land Security Dept) to improve the visa system. Since people who suffer from the deficiencies do not have any political power to pressure the system to correct itself. Ok, there are universities and high tech companies who are not happy about the situation, but for them it is not as the first priority that needs to be answered. Also, in the current climate, it is very difficult to argue that in fact letting foreign scientist to come to this country still benefits this country.

It is even more frustrating when you see that people do not have any ability to distinguish between a 25-year-old eager Saudi mathematician who has been admitted to a graduate program with a 40-year-old umemployed Egyption who has 10 years missing on his resume and is coming to learn English.

Senior Grad at September 25, 2003 09:52 PM [permalink]:

yahya is right!! see what I found! ;-)

"As the world economy becomes more globalized, the United States has become increasingly dependent on the skills of the international students who gain advanced degrees in the hard sciences."

http://www-hoover.stanford.edu/publications/digest/022/skandera.html

yahya at September 25, 2003 10:18 PM [permalink]:

Dear SG,

What I meant in my comment was that the public think foreign immigrant are not useful not the people in academic institutions. However, there still exist inviduals in academic institutions that argue, using vague statistics, that foreign students don't benefit America:

"And to whose benefit? A study by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that all of the immigration over the past few decades increased the income accruing to natives by less than $10 billion a year. Of that $10 billion contribution, very little ? less than $1 billion ? can be attributed to foreign students, who account for less than 2 percent of all permanent immigrants.

The net gain to the country may be small ? but the higher-education industry can benefit substantially. Foreign students are an important part of the workforce in many universities. Wages and salaries in this sector are around $50 billion annually. If the huge influx of foreign-student workers lowered wages by only 5 percent, the payroll savings would be around $2 billion each year, transferring a significant amount of wealth from workers to management in that industry.

Taxpayers also lose. The tuition that colleges charge is not typically enough to cover the cost of an education. Gordon Winston, former provost of Williams College, estimates that the average per-student subsidy is $6,400 in private universities and $9,200 in public universities. The 275,000 foreign students enrolled in public institutions are subsidized to the tune of $2.5 billion a year. This subsidy is so large that the foreign-student program may actually generate a net loss for the U.S..."

Read it from the source:
Rethinking Foreign Students by G.J.Borjas

mammad at September 26, 2003 01:01 AM [permalink]:

thanks to yaha for the article.
something nice to note:
"Professor Borjas was born in Havana, Cuba in 1950, and migrated to the United States in October 1962"

Pinocchio at September 26, 2003 09:37 AM [permalink]:

I think it would be better if the pettion is sent to US National academy of science instead of that long list.

Dan Schmelzer at September 26, 2003 12:33 PM [permalink]:

I realize this impacts y'all directly, and that the actual administration of this policy leaves a lot to be desired (timeliness, etc.).

However, as somebody who lives in Washington, I am impacted directly too and am more happy with them erring on the side of caution. The September 11 hijackers came to the US abusing the visa system, and it seems like common sense to bring more scrutiny to bear in this area.

Kaveh Kh. at September 26, 2003 12:38 PM [permalink]:

Common sense yes. But there is a difference between indefinite policies and higher level of security as you have mentioned. Security is one thing [detailed and accurate backgroundchecks] and CAN be put into a framework instead of indefinite and elaborate beaurocracies that can always be fooled.

Dan Schmelzer at September 26, 2003 12:42 PM [permalink]:

I guess I don't see the difference in your distinction. Could you explain your distinction in concrete terms of how it applies to the visa system?

Kaveh Kh. at September 26, 2003 12:57 PM [permalink]:

Common Sense -> detailed and more accurate background checks, especially now with their unified system, this should be easier; It would be very good if they also put an "average time limit" on these processes and would be nice if they are accountable for it. That is what the RCMP(Royal Canadian Mounted Police, an FBI clone in Canada) does for background check routines.

However, if I were American, from a nation [still] victim of terrorism, I would also prefer erring on the side of caution. I think those atrocities have caused a lot of individualism in the American Society to vanish, and people have become more conscious of their role in the society and their society as an entity that they have to protect. In a moral context this sounds good, but I wish [not that it should be, just wish] people [and not statesmen] would come to realize that just as no individual can obtain security and welfare [in the modern era] on their own, no society can either.

saoshyant at September 26, 2003 02:31 PM [permalink]:

Dear Dan:

I respectfully beg to differ with your broad generalization that the hijackers of September 11th had abused the US Visa system.

First, a majority of hijackers were in the United States legally. Elements in the FBI had already warned against issuing visa for some of the hijackers and no one listened to them. You can basically to the US Congress's website and look at the testimonies for yourself.
So there was a way of preventing the attacks, but "Arrogance of the United States" was the major perventer of it.
Be ware that I am not blaming the victims for the crimes of the criminal, you can look at my views on this issue under: (http://freethoughts.org/archives/000123.html). I am asserting that the US officials failed to do their job properly and protect their citizens and I still believe they are still failing their citizens.

The United States of America is still incapable of conducting background checks properly, especially of those who are in the most sensitive places. One recent example is the convert American Muslim who is now found to be, who apparently a Syrian spy, and almost everybody in the intelligence and the Army knew he had spent five years in Syria. It is disgraceful for the US intelligence for failing to identify this person much earlier.

I appreciate paranoia and its causes, but Americans have failed to devise proper screening system in the first place, and honsetly that has much to do with the fact that they support extremely corrupt and inefficient Arab regimes, and/or Pakistan, whose intelligence and legal system authorities can be easily bought by Usamah sympathizers and in fact provide incorrect information.

The United States is in a catch 22 situation with respect to Arabs for sure.

But why Iranians are treated like that? As far as history shows, Iranians have never attacked American interests or Americans outside Iran. Well, I concede that the Hezbollah, that was backed by Iran's Islamic regime, attacked the Marines' Headquarters in Lebanon in the early 1980s but nothing to that effect has been committed against Americans or American interests by the Iranians or Iranian backed groups.

I find American INS's harrassement of Iranians in this regard absolutely baffling, if not completely unreasonable. The same goes for the general treatment of Iranians who want to reside in North America by both of the American and Canadian security services.

Nonetheless, perhas one can explain this attitude towards Iranians due to two factors: an exteremly incompetent and terrorist Islamic regime, and that, let's face it: Americans have always had difficulty distinguishing between Persians and Arabs and they cannot understand why Iranians are culturally less prone to commit september 11th type of atrocities against anybody else, than non-Arab fanatic mulism such as Pakistanis or Indonesian radicals as well as fanatic Arabs.

Grand Vizier at September 26, 2003 03:10 PM [permalink]:

I am sure many Muslim Iranians would raise objections with the usual [and overused and useless] examples from Quran against your last sentences. Nonetheless, it is good that you pointed to them.

saoshyant at September 26, 2003 03:21 PM [permalink]:

Grand Vizier

I sincerely accept your most gracious reminder; Your most noble cautionary intervention is noted.

I hereby retract the overgeneralization regarding the last three lines of my previous comment.

Senior Grad at September 26, 2003 04:58 PM [permalink]:

I am an Iranian and I know Iranians up-close and I somehow find it hard to think of some dude who is both Iranian *and* willing to blow himself up for the cause of Islam, the way 9/11 terrorists did or Palestinian suicide bombers do. Can you?

SG at September 26, 2003 05:01 PM [permalink]:

I meant: Can you guys imagine such a person? It just doesn't add up!

yahya at September 26, 2003 05:55 PM [permalink]:

SG and saoshyant,

20 years ago, there was not just one Iranian who was ready to blow himself up, but there were 500,000 of them. They would be given a hand grenade or sometimes nothing at all and would be asked to march to Iraqi frontlines during Iran-Iraq war in order to create fear and chaos in Iraqi frontline. Many of them would perish on mine fields before seeing a single Iraqi soldier. This was no problem for them because they were there to be a martyr. It was the sooner the better for them.

We don't see any of them today. Not because Iranians today have some intrinsic tendency not to become a suicide bomber, simply because the circumstances have changed and the culture has changed significantly. Threats to the nation have reduced as well.

However, I have to say that there are still people in Iran, quite in minority, who still dream about martyrdom seeking operations.
That is why I think a certain level background checking should be in place for Iranians, this would be safer for America and certainly much much safer for Iranian dissidents.

Also, I think when Iranians are trying to suggest changes in visa regulations should not base their arguments on their difference with Arabs or Pakistanis. If I were an American and would hear this type of arguments, I would say these people don't deserve to come here because they want to get their visas easier at the cost of others who happen to be very similar to them.

Senior Grad at September 26, 2003 06:21 PM [permalink]:

Good points you raised, yahya. I remember those times that you are talking about when volunteers would go (or sent?!) to the mine fields during a war with an enemy that was supported by the US! I think I also understand what you mean by advising us not to compare ourselves with others so that we may be given easier visas. One problem you overlook, however, is that even prior to 9/11 the visa regulation for Iranians was quite long and frustrating. Almost half of my friends who tried to come to the US for graduate school prior to 9/11 would return home empty-handed from Cyprus, Dubai, and Turkey. (Is Dubai a city or a country? I never figured it out!) So now thanks to what *others* did, it's only become harder for us to argue for simplifying the issuance of visa for Iranians.

The visa problem is not to be taken lightly. It affects the life of us all who are "stranded" in America because we're given ONE-ENTRY visas (and why not multiple? Could a non-terorist student turn to a terrorist after he leaves America for a short time?) in a most drastic way. For example, a student whose parents are old must be worrying day and night about whether s/he will be able to see them again or not. This, and other scenarios that we're now used to and have come to accept as the "natural" price that we must pay for living in America, affect our lives in more ways than we usually notice.

saoshyant at September 26, 2003 06:34 PM [permalink]:

Well, Dear Yahya,

You should be right in that but I just wondered Iranians could be less prone to do such thing, just because there are no reports of Iranian suicide bombers attacking American interests, nor have I heard of Iranian suicide bombers attacking Israeli interests (the Jewish Community Centre Bombing in Boenos Aires was just a bombing, not a suicide attack, point of information)

I still do not think broad generalization are correct, so I retracted my previous comment.

Now upon these exchanges, I have new questions. If becoming a suicide bomber is something as unpredictable that people would not even know they are suicide bombers until they are told, as we hear such stories from the Media, I am just wondering what kind of a screenging system can relatively immunize the US?

yahya at September 26, 2003 07:15 PM [permalink]:

One of my problems with the visa regulations is its politicalization. The delays have little to do with the security. Many of you know that it is still much harder for Iranians to come here that citizens of the countries from whom 911 hijackers originated. And this has to do with the politicalization of the process.

The State Dept considers visa as tool of diplomacy. When the relationship is not good with a certain country, it reduces the visa quota. This is done about Iran quite often. Many know that the difficulty of getting a U.S. visa changes by the season. Whenever there is some secret deal going on with Iranian government, it gets easier and whenever Iran-US relation is bad, getting visa becomes hard. This has to do with very faulty assumption that politicians have in the State Dept. They think if they punish the people then that would get transfered to the government of Iran. We know that this is not true at all. Iranian government doesn't care at all about what is happening to its citizens. In fact, if Iranians go back and forth between Iran and America, they can correct the wrong perceptions about the West or Democracy and this can help Iran to move toward a more democratic system and this would be far more dangerous for Iranian government.

yahya at September 26, 2003 07:27 PM [permalink]:

Next time when we visit Iran, we might be able to
get our visa in Iraq. It seems that US embassy has started working there. Apparently, Hoseein Khomeini got his visa there:

Hossein Khomeini Comes to America

From what I heard from people who visited Iraq from Iran recently, it takes $3 to go from Iran's border to Karbala, which is in middle-south of Iraq and motels cost $4 per night there. Considering the fact that Baghdad is closer to Iran's border the cost of travel might be even cheaper. This would make applying for visa much easier. There won't be a need to go to Dubai or Cyprus. And also you can get a free pilgrimage to
Shiite holy sites:)

saoshyant at September 26, 2003 07:28 PM [permalink]:

SG:

AbuDhabi is regarded as the capital of the UAE, nonetheless Dubai is the home to one of its seven emirates and it is today the biggest free trade, and almost trade of everything, in the Forever Persian Gulf.

Senior Grad at September 26, 2003 07:56 PM [permalink]:

I don't know about you guys, but I personally prefer going to Afghanistan for getting my visa. Not only I can speak my language there, I could pay a visit in my way to Imam Reza (the "local" Shiite holy site), Omar Khayyam and Ferdowsi of Tus. :-)

negar at September 26, 2003 08:22 PM [permalink]:

I'm also Iranian, and I happen to know an "Iranian" who did blow himself up for some radical cause:
"hoseyn e fahmide"

Mehrad at September 26, 2003 09:20 PM [permalink]:

I have a question from those of you who live in US/Canada and have to deal with this "Visa Problem": [It's only for my own further knowledge, cause I've never been there and never had that problem...]

Whats so special about living there? I mean, is it enough gain to make it worthy after all? (It should be, I guess!! Actually, all tickets to US seem to be one-way!)

mammad at September 26, 2003 09:40 PM [permalink]:

Poor Hossein Fahmideh who blew himself up to save his country under Saddam Hussein’s attack and people commemorate him this way. Poor Hossein fahmideh who became one the many victims of mullah’s government propaganda during war...

Babak S at September 26, 2003 09:43 PM [permalink]:

Mehrad: I guess your question would be more difficult to answer in the case of the USA, but as regards Canada, *my* answer is a big `yes!'

saoshyant at September 26, 2003 11:31 PM [permalink]:

I have a problem with the example of Husseine Fahmideh and I fail to find it a good example:

Husseineh Fahmideh blew himself for a radical cause: defending his country and this happened in the very early stage of the war. Other so-called martyrs did do that for other reasons or reasons of exagerated magnitude, such as liberating Jerusalem after 1982, but not against Americans or Israelis, AGAINST THEIR FELLOW MUSLIM ARAB IRAQI ENEMY.

Has any Iranian, or group of Iranians under the orders of the Islamic regime of Iran, known and/or accused of committing "suicide attacks" against Israel and/or the United States of America in general, and Israelis or Americans in particular?

I do not think so, I have not heard even of one case reported by the Media or accusation raised by Israelis and Americans.

I am now becoming more confident, I know of Arabs who have committed suicide attacks against Israel or America, but I do not know of any Iranian who is reported to have committed, or purused by the US and Israel for committing this type of crime.

AIS at September 27, 2003 04:55 AM [permalink]:

Suicide Bombing is an invention of Yasser Arafat and for a long time was a Palestinian heritage until their brothers in other Arabic lands also joined the camp.
As all of us know, the Mullahs are a key factor in supporting suicide bombers and other terrorists in Lebanon and among Palestinians (and probably elsewhere)-but what is usually ignored is the role Palestinians played in producing 'political Mullahs' in Iran in the first place as well as training other terrorist band and gangs before the revolution, such as Mujahedin-e Khalgh and Fadayian-e Khalgh.
So I agree with Saoshyant, suicide bombings are more or less an Arabic and Sunni Islamic phenomena and the beginning of it's Iranian/shiite fraction was also heavily influenced by them.

BTW, isn't going to Iraq made forbidden for Iranians again, after the infiltration of IRI elements to Iraq to cause unrest (and God knows what else)? Duabi and Turkey still seem the places to go for a visa.

Ali Mahani at September 27, 2003 06:49 AM [permalink]:

Let’s get one thing straight, lads.

We are told that Hossain Fahmideh, a 13-year-old boy from Karaj, tied a grenade to his waist and then dived under an Iraqi tank. I'm not gonna argue whether this funny story is true or not, but for all I know, grenades are for THROWING, and it's utter madness to accompany a grenade under the enemy's tank! If that blasted fool was using the grenade to hit the Iraqis, then all he had to do was to release the detonator and then fling it at them with might and main!!?? It seems that Fahmideh has deliberately committed suicide, which is regarded as an unpardonable sin in his religion. And by killing himself he actually lost the opportunity to destroy any further tanks, didn't he?

But he must be given some credit, though: he's pulled off the impossible feat of making Palestinian suicide bombers look wise and reasonable (fahmideh) in comparison with himself!

What an idiot!!

With all due respect for the real soldiers and volunteers who gave life and limb to liberate the soil of this country,

Ali Mahani
September 27

Senior Grad at September 27, 2003 10:51 AM [permalink]:

Fahmideh: an idiot?! I wouldn't go that far, Ali.

I don't know about the exact circumstances of Hossein Fahmideh's death, but I remember the way the story was told during the war and how he was glorified by the leader of the revolution (Didn't he once say "our leader is the 13 year old kid who..."?) and the media and all the war-related propaganda. This actually (and ironically) proves exactly what I had claimed. That Iranians are not suicide bomber material: There was only one such case reported and it was not against civilians. It was an *exception*. Why don't we remember the names of all those non-Iranian suicide bombers who blew themselves up for their fanatical cause? Simply because there are too many of them! Again, let me ask you this: what are the chances of having an Iranian lad (thanks for British slang, Ali!) committing suicide for a cause these days?

Frankly, the only Iranians I know that are capable of such deeds may be found from among MKO members, some of who recently set themselves ablaze for an utterly stupid reason. Now, *that* is plain insane.

Senior Grad at September 27, 2003 11:05 AM [permalink]:

Mehrad asked (and I paraphrase): Is it worth the hassle to leave Iran and go to North America for studying or staying?

If I had time I could write a little book about the pros and cons of living in America. (Others may even be able to write bigger books.) I'm surprised that Babak's answer to your question is an emphatic yes. I myself would be a lot more ambivalent, as I think most Iranians who live here are. When two or more Iranians meet in America, their topic of discussion gravitates towards whether Iran is "better" or America. We simply can't decide and I presume most of us go through the torture of making up our mind about this thorny issue. However, more often than not, the years pass and we stay, unable to make up our mind, and we take roots (family, new friends, children) and we succumb to what we've drifted into.

asdf at September 27, 2003 11:48 AM [permalink]:

This makes me laugh out loud.

An Iranian wishes to snap at the lack of freedom in the U.S. Surely there is another government which you could complain about. Surely someone from a region of government-sponsored intolerance and radical religious conservatism knows of another nation to take up a fight with.

Surely you don't have the nerve, out of all the places in the world, to complain that the U.S. has a lack of freedom.

AliS at September 27, 2003 11:55 AM [permalink]:

I read this posting very late so my notes may be a little bit late but anyway I am going to share them with you. I have recently come to the USA (to be exact I have been here only for 40 days). I have had some experiences that may relate to this topic. I guess the first thing I should say is the about the Visa process. Well I went to the consulate in Dubai had a less than a minute interview and they issued my Visa in less than 20 days!! I don’t know why but the same day they rejected many other students having admission from very good universities (I dare say best). So everything started fine. Since I have been here I have seen two completely different attitudes towards Iranians. In the airport (JFK) the officer in charge of the so called “Special Registration” nearly apologized me every time he was asking one of those special questions e.g. One of the things he asked me was my mother’s date of birth and I told him that I don’t know he just replied “say something just remember to say the same thing next time” and something he said frequently was this: “I don’t know why we are going through this waste of time so let us finish it fast”. I have 2 roommates here in NY and I’m not sure if anyone has experienced this combination of roommates before: one from the USA, the other from ISAREL, and me from IRAN. I have been sharing my experience in NY with them nearly every night. My American roommate just keeps apologizing for the attitude of the officials towards Iranians (He is NOT Democrat). Once we were discussing this issue of “Special Registration” my Israeli roommate justified it this way: Think that you come from a country that the USA does not have any relations with. You are a new guy here they have no records of you and they can not enquire for your past form your country. But if for example you are from France they can easily ask the French government for a background check on you. So it somewhat makes sense they try to identify you. I am not saying he was right but he has a sound logic behind this line of reasoning (We talked about 3 or 4 hours this was just an example). This is the one I refer to as “American People Attitude towards the Axis of Evil People (or at least Iranians)” which is totally different from the “Administration Attitude”. I think we should distinguish these two but any way as it seems Democracy is working in the USA I wonder either my samples of Normal People has been biased or something happens when you add all these good attitudes. I just wanted to share my short experience with you and since I have gone through all of them recently I thought maybe my experience would be kind of fresh.

Grand Vizier at September 27, 2003 12:21 PM [permalink]:

Who has mentionned lack of freedom? Read more, my dear Watson! ridiculo ipsa ridicula!

saoshyant at September 27, 2003 03:00 PM [permalink]:

Dear ASDF:

Pursuant to our Grand Vizier most gracious intervention, I must add that you, perhaps like many other people in the Western world, should immediately find who planned education in the area where you did your schooling.

It is most probable that you are a victim of Nixon's underfunded educational system or Reagan's cuts in the 1980s.

Reading comprehension is not just an ESL problem, there are a lot of people who have had 8 years of schooling in the Western world and cannot read.

I will be more than happy to help you out with that, and I am not being sarcastic whatsoever.

If your reading skills are good, I propose you start doing some meditation and/or Yoga instead. Watching Dr. Phil can most certainly be of help as well.

If you do either of the above, working on your reading skills and/or gaining some skills in practising patience, I assure you will figure out what we are talking about.

By the way! you do not need to be shy at all, YOU CAN ALWAYS LEAVE YOUR EMAIL FOR THE PURPOSES OF COMMUNICATION, First, because you can always come up with a webmail free of charge with a pseudonym, and Second, because English is a second language for most of us, as per reading.

As per patience, well Dalai Lama just met with President Bush recently, so I am confident help in that regard should be promptly in your vicinity.

You will gain a lot of nerve as a result either way and will also realize that we all value freedom and in general have no problem with Freedom in the US (and this one is indeed meant to be sarcastic, if you have any doubts)!

Babak S at September 27, 2003 03:48 PM [permalink]:

As I said, Senior Grad, it's *my* answer. The basic reason for it is that I can't imagine living in the Iran I left 3 years ago any longer, particularly under the circumstances I left. In fact, I had my doubts until I went back after 15 months. In that 15-month period I would feel I missed many corners and streets of my home city of Tehran, and also many other beautiful places, from thick green jungles of north to the gray mountains of Alborz and Zagros to the hemispherical domes of Yazd by the desert. I still do miss some of those I mentioned above, you see. But when I went back in the Christmas holidays of 2001, I found out it wasn't the actual places I was missing, but their *memory*. I missed, and still do, not the space but the space-time event that I had registered in my mind. I miss some of the people I know (and knew), especially my family. But most of my freinds are now abroad, scaterred about the globe--probably for a common reason as that of my departure. So, all in all, I have no *personal* reason to go back, now, when faced with the big dilemma of every day life in Iran (from the most basic freedoms, to the problems of economy).

But I do understand the frustration in deciding to stay abroad: fitting into a new culture and language, and filling in the sometimes huge crack of space-time that is generated by the experience of immigration->emigration, ... .

Siavash at September 27, 2003 05:10 PM [permalink]:

FYI,
If you've not read it before, a congressman introduced a bill to expell all iranians with student or visitor visa from the US.
http://www.iranianamericanpac.org/news/detail.php?str=yU2q5HqL4y7E6M7Y

Senior Grad at September 28, 2003 12:57 AM [permalink]:

I'm glad for you, Babak S, who have reached a stable condition so fast. If I were sure that I can live in a metropolitan city in North America as long as I would like to and pay a visit to my family back in Iran whenever I desired to, I too would surely rather stay here. But let me ask you this: Would you rather live the rest of your life in a god-forsaken small town in Saskatchewan or live in Tehran?! By asking this question, I'm just trying to suggest that one may not easily opt for one or the other alternative (i.e. living in Iran vs living abroad), because of the number of variables involved are too many.

In any case, I think you should cherish the fact that at least *for now* you've reached a level of contentment. I think I sort of understand the immigrant / emigré division, but your space-time justification is way above my head! All I know is one cannot possibly miss the *memory* of a thing, because in order to miss something you first need to remember it! I think "missing something" can very well refer to a non-re-livable event that we have experienced in the past, and yes, by going back to that space we only *hope* to re-live the experience: to be the little child who used to playing in the yard of that kindergarten again.

This, however, may not take place. We often miss something (or someone) that (or who) has forever changed. The pleasant event in space-time that is registered in our memory is no longer reachable outside our dreams and daydreams, nevertheless trying to bring those memories to life by re-visiting the places that they have been formed can be a bitter-sweet experience. Why do we mark the graves of our dead? Why do we value monuments from a time when we ourselves were not present? Isn't it the illusion of re-living an experience, the wonder how it must have felt to sit all by yourself by the reflecting pool in Isfahan's Chehel-Sotoon ages ago and reflect, that is the point of re-visiting the symbols of our origins?

All right, I was carried away a little bit and might have added some nonsense, for which I apologize, and wait for you guys to kindly correct my faults. :-)

Hossein at September 28, 2003 03:48 AM [permalink]:

I wonder how come this discussion didn't come up after my posts! Just kidding!

I feel the same as Babak about missing memories in places rather than places themselves. That’s what usually called “Nostalgia”.

BTW, the usage of the word “we” is quite interesting in Mr. Senior Grad’s last comment (I hope he’s not generalizing). I don’t know where Mr. Senior Grad lives (my wild guess is DC), but where I happen to reside is not a big nor a small city in New England which has very nice café shops with river views (beside other things of course). Although I still like to live in a city like New York or San Francisco (and I day-dream about it too actually) or even Washington, but I’m quite happy with it and I think it suits my life as a graduate student. About Tehran, I don’t day-dream and memories I have from there don’t make me either.

Although I agree with him on the fact that people are different and like different things. And surly the number of variables involved is too many.
At the end, just a suggestion: what about thinking stuff we say over first and not knowingly wait for other people to correct us?

a pessimist! at September 28, 2003 10:49 AM [permalink]:

Do you really think this petition will change Bush's views and result in changes in the procedures? Remember he did not change his mind when all over the world people were screaming against the recent war!
If I were to initialize a petition for this purpose, I would restrict it just to professors at US universities with a US citizenship, they can argue that their research is harmed by losing more and more Iranian students. Bush may listen to US citizens, who are defending their own interests.

Dan Schmelzer at September 28, 2003 07:08 PM [permalink]:

Kaveh: I think you see the dilemma. If there is a time limit to the visa procedures then that is by its nature not erring on the side of caution. You go on to argue about the personal costs of increased or wrong-headed security measures, which seems like a useful exercise. Unfortunately, it's easy to measure the economic downside to an attack the size of 9/11 in the range of several hundreds of billions of dollars as whole and thousands of dollars for your average household, while it's difficult if not impossible to measure the full downside of reduced individualism and working with others for security. It's difficult for both the experts and ordinary voters. But given the circumstances, myself and other voters are likely to give the administration a lot of leash to make policy and implementation on security. Currently, that leash is indicated by a 70% approval of the American populace of the measures Bush has taken with regard to terrorism.

Anyway, even if it's difficult to measure, I would be interested in hearing what you believe these costs are as you look at American society. From my perspective, many people idealize American society and run roughshod over the fact that bad groupthink has always been a feature of American political life. This is so, even if in comparison to the political lives of other countries it might be more infrequent. For instance, there was more bad groupthink during Gulf War I than during the troubles over the last couple of years.

Dan Schmelzer at September 28, 2003 07:39 PM [permalink]:

saoshyant: Even if only a portion of the hijackers were here because of visa abuse, the political fact is that this attack happened in large part because of visa abuse. This is clear when you remember that one of the hijackers obtained a visa renewal a half year after he did his deed.

But visas in particular and immigration in general are systems that were never meant, funded, nor designed to run well. This odd situation is due to the fact that the American public is hopelessly split on these issues and has been that way for decades (maybe it has been throughout history, I don't know). The political solution is that the federal government doesn't check up on these things, nobody tells the federal government about it, and the federal government studiously avoids telling the people any details. For instance, try to find me a paper that includes line item immigration figures. You will spend all day trying to find it and you will come up empty handed. The closest thing you will get is a paper by the Census Bureau every ten years that says "oh, by the way, we have 10 million more undocumented immigrants in the US than we thought."

So citing American arrogance for 9/11 is very much off the mark. Rather, you should cite the American reliance on an honor system that doesn't aim to observe strict legalities. But this farce can't be sustained any more.

With regard to the differences between Iranian and Arab propensity for suicide terrorism, that doesn't seem like a useful path to go down, as others have pointed out. To an American voter, it's tough to distinguish between levels of extreme craziness. It's also tough to distinguish between government policies and the attitude of the people, since we don't seem to have as much of a divergence state-side.

saoshyant at September 28, 2003 09:06 PM [permalink]:

Dan schmelzer:

1) Could you please cite the Census Bureau paper that you have cited. If there are 10,000,000 illegal aliens in the US today, then I suppose I really need to see it becaue the United States of America is an open society, democractic, and transparent (my following citation is an evidence to this belief), so if you have found that paper that you say there are 10,000,000 illegal aliens in the US.


1) I really wish that you responded my inquiry more directly. It really saddens me when I see someone who tries to represent average Joe/Jane of the United States of America (correct me if I am wrong, because perhaps you are just reflecting about yourself and you are not representing ohters) fails to answer my question directly (because I stereotypically tend to believe Americans are very forthright):

a) you have failed to directly respond to my question that the US intelligence agencies have failed to prevent the terrorist acts and the potentially could, which means they did not need an inter-agency to coordinate between them.

Why? Because according the Senate Intelligence Committee Report into the Attacks, INTRA-AGENCY flaws (I read it as arrogance and ignorance that arose out of a sense of over-self-confidence and false sense invincibility), convinced some senior ranking officers in the FBI to completely disregard the warnings of the sources available to them:

IN FACT THE US SENATE SELECT COMMITTE CITES 11 INSTANCES THAT COULD ALARM THE INTELLIGENCE OFFICIALS AND THEY VIRTUALLY SAT ON THEM MY FRIEND!

B) I assume (and I could be wrong) that English is your first language so please go to the following and read pages 200-215 of the report (errata edition in full):

http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/24jul20031400/www.gpoaccess.gov/serialset/creports/pdf/fullreport_errata.pdf

The general website is:

http://www.gpoaccess.gov/serialset/creports/911.html

The Senate Intelligence Committe web site's citation is:

http://intelligence.senate.gov/pubs108.htm


C)My friend I am not commi-liberal and I do not cite Z-Magazine or Counter-Punch or etc. I have cited the AVERAGE US VOTERS' DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVES' PUBLICATION:

Page 349 of the above report clearly indicates that the problems do not necessarily lie in lack of co-ordination but the fact that the agencies themselves had not put enough emphasis on prevention. Further I refer you to the first 33 pages of the report, which I also concludes that there were significant incident that the respective agencies failed to address, within their own jurisdictions.

In fact, Is not this interesting that an agency like FBI that happens to arrest Moussaui (the so called last hijacker) and investigate everything about him, but not to inquire further as to what was about to happen?

Where does this ignorance come from? Arrogance, illiteracy, incompetence, not being patriotic enough, or simply being selfish and/or lazy? Well, the US congress has issued its own damning attack on the intelligence community in this regard, why should I bother further?!


And what is the result, a new air of paranoia that even fails to do proper screening even today!

Hence:

D) What do you say about this Chinese American Muslim guy who spent five years in Syria and was working in Guantanamo Base as an interperter seems to have been spying during the whole time that he was there?

My friend it seems this farce is being sustained for too long now.

Mehrad at September 28, 2003 10:05 PM [permalink]:

Dear Dan,

Living only a few months in London, I've faced two "Terror Alert" both of them while waitng for an underground service.

Having experienced this little about terror (comparing to horrible situation of 9/11), I can feel your concerns as an American citizen to some extent.

But there is one point about the 70% approval that, I think, has been left unspoken in your comment: Is it not wise for this huge ratio of US population to trace the possible footprints of their own government in this tragedy? Then, devoting billions of dollars to security sector and yet investing(!) billions more to create more enemies might seem a bit unwise, specifically in the eyes of contented taxpayers!

Dan Schmelzer at September 28, 2003 11:38 PM [permalink]:

(1) Here's a WaPo reference, showing that the federal government loses track of millions of people--or chooses not to learn of them in the first place--with the full cooperation of individual citizens and groups of citizens.

http://earthops.org/immigration/underestimated-2001.html

Please note that I didn't care much about these contradictions either. As long as the books were reconciled every 10 or 20 years by a citizenship amnesty, things were going fine by me. It didn't matter to me whether people overstayed their tourist visa and came to settle in the US.

(2) I only (and can only) represent myself, not the average Joe. Rereading my posts, I don't think that I put myself up as representing the average Joe, but did reference poll numbers to show what he thinks. It is true that I put in my comments to represent an American-bred, different view than many of those already put forward, because I thought it might be useful. But I think that it's unfair for you to foist the defense of the average American Joe on me.

I'll try to address directly in a separte post the operational facts that you are establishing, but honestly I'm not inclined to come to a conclusion about them in a short time-frame. Suffice to say, before being presented with these facts, it was my understanding that the visa system had a lot to do with enabling the 9/11 attacks. If I'm wrong, then I guess this isn't so surprising, since this report only came out only recently, and in the meantime my thoughts and the general political dialogue have proceded apace.

Btw, I have much more confidence in the rigor of the security clearences given out for national security positions, since I have a lot of friends who went through the process. Because of this, among other reasons, I'm inclined to think about the case of the interpreter separately.

Dan Schmelzer at September 29, 2003 12:14 AM [permalink]:

Mehrdad: Perhaps I didn't make myself sufficiently clear. I went one step further and blamed Americans themselves (and myself) for the past lax security attitudes in the federal government. Would the American people have accepted a third-rate military like we accepted a third-rate visa and immigration system? Not at all, and that's why we don't have a third-rate military and we have a third-rate visa and immigration system.

As for creating more enemies with our tax dollars, personally I don't think we can do much about it while having an active foreign policy. It comes with the territory. But I guess this is getting slightly off the topic at hand.

Siavash at September 29, 2003 01:05 AM [permalink]:


Something that missing in these arguments:
1. Every country has the right to issue or deny a visa to citizens of other countries, and has the right to do it in its own way.

2. What bothers me most is the process of fingerprinting, taking mugshots and several hours of interrogation upon entering the country. It shows that the goverment does not trust its own system of screening and intelligence and its state department officials. This means several months of screening and background cheking before issuing visa is nothing but a show. Or may be the fingerprinting story is designed to humilate an individual because of his ethnic or religious background.
3. Issuing visa and fingerprinting, etc. upom arrival in this system means you are guilty (or a criminal) even if the opposite is proved.

Ali Mahani at September 29, 2003 01:56 AM [permalink]:

Senior Grad-

Well the point I am trying to make is that in Fahmideh's case, the government here may have simply made up a story or just blown it out of all proportion. I wonder who has actually related the incident? Were there any eyewitnesses? Not likely, because in that case they might have tried to teach him how to use grenades, rather than standing back and having a good laugh as the poor bastard hit the tank with grenades under his belly. Or was it the Iraqi military who reported Fahmideh's heroics??!!
Maybe it was Khomeini himself (or his ghost… you never know with these mullahs) who witnessed and recorded the scene?
Putting two and two together, something stinks about the whole story, don't you think so?

The answer to your question is a big fat NO, there aren't any Iranians who would blow themselves up for any cause. Twenty years ago, thousands of Baseejis were ready to walk the minefields and get blown up just to clear the way for a ground offensive-that was how Bostan and a few other cities were liberated. But a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since, and it would be naïve to expect anything like that from the youth of today. Call it fanaticism or what you like, but the Baseejis had an unshakeable belief that they were fighting for a noble cause. Today there is simply no belief of any sort among the people; the whole society is falling apart ….

So much so that even those soldiers, Baseejis and other champions of lost causes are probably regretting their act now: They supposedly gave their lives to preserve our dignity, independence, freedom, Islam, ..... which we simply don't have today. I’m not for one moment questioning their courage and lofty intentions, but looking at the final result…. Oh dear oh dear oh dear...

Ali Mahani

Senior Grad at October 3, 2003 10:10 PM [permalink]:

Sorry that I failed to response in a timely fashion, Ali Mahani. I was on a vacation from Free Thoughts. Whoever you are, you are a very smart kid, Ali. I cannot deny it. It's just too bad you have read too much Sadegh Hedayat. ;-)

I agree with you that the whole story of Hossein Fahmideh may have been just pure baloney, or the government may have made a mountain out of a mole hill, so to speak, to lubricate the wheels of its war propaganda machine (I'm just making up idioms as I go, so don't take these seriously). What I specifically didn't like about your comment was how you talk about the "poor bastard"! There have been many victims (victims of their own youth, idealism, ignorance, blind faith, you name it) during the Iran-Iraq war. I don't think you were ever with them under the Iraqi fire. You have not been ordered to go on the mine field, or be shot. At least you have seen in the movies. In any case, I don't think you have any right to judge them, let alone call them names. Don't you agree?

P.S. And you write quite well. Could it be that Hedayat's soul, the soul of that "idiot", has been reincarnated in you? Well, if that is the case you must be 50 or something. ;-)

AIS at October 4, 2003 02:58 AM [permalink]:

It can't be denied that the US immigration policies are still one of the most humane in the world, despite all the noise made about them. Just compare it with the Europeans' -look at the german refugee camps for example.
However dear Dan, the point is that the visa problems for iranian students did not (pre sept 11) and do not still address the security issues. In many cases they just have no basis. 10 students go to the same embassy the same day, 6 get a visa 4 don't. Why not? what was the difference? nothing real. It seems actually as though the counsoler has decided on giving visas only to a certain percentage of applicants and is just filling his daily ration.
There are many such tales if you ask Iranian students. Even today the main issue to address in an interview is your financial status and the main strategy is to bring whatever document of your or your relative's properties in Iran or your proof of the sickness of your mother and the like to show that you would be compelled to return after your study and the like...the only thing that doesn't matter seems to be the security issues.
Indeed one of the main factors for September 11 was the immigration and visa policies...in the time where an Iranian student, who usually hated fundamentalism to his/her bones had to go through a lot of trouble to get a visa, many of the highjackers and their likes travelled to and from the US , took flight lessons there ... as though it was their 'aunt's home' (as we say in Persian) just because they had money, or the countries they came from had (appparently) good relations with the US! and as far as I hear nothing much has changed in this regard yet.

Finally Ali Mahani, I agree that Fahmideh story sucks!
But what you said about heroism of the basijees troubles me. there is NO glory in fanaticism. What they were willingly dying for (and expected others to die for as well, something that must make you think about their moral values!) are the same ideals that have taken our freedoms, our youth and our lives in the past 25 years.
If you are looking for real heroes in that damn war, look at the army officers, pilots and soldiers that hated this regime, that were even mistreated by it and yet fought for what they held dear , for the people and their land.
They were the true heroes not those filthy bearded bastards!

Ali Mahani at October 5, 2003 02:00 AM [permalink]:

My dear Senior Grad

There seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding here. “Poor bastard” is an idiomatic expression with a meaning similar to that of “poor thing” or “poor fellow”; at any rate it’s a jocular phrase used for showing sympathy and doesn’t imply being born on the wrong side of the blanket.

And no, I don’t regard myself as Hedayat or Idiot reincarnated: I am a good few years younger than Hedayat and a good few years older than Fahmideh… unless you mean that famous Idiot by Dostoyevsky (Prince Myshkin) …LOL

--To AIS

Well I never meant to glorify the current regime or the principles it claims to stand for; but let’s give the devil its due: At one time Iran was invaded by Iraqi troops. Some people simply packed up and fled the country, others cited all sorts of excuses under the sun to avoid going to the frontline (this isn’t our war, I have a family to think about, I am busy right now…)….AND there were people who had the guts to take up arms and defend this land. It would be unkind to call them ‘filthy bearded bastards” as you did; not least because it wasn’t them who started the war or dragged it out for 8 years (some of them were so young they didn’t have any beard on their faces). So we should reserve that type of epithet for the dirty, scheming politicians who cooked up the whole war business.
I have tremendous respect for those pilots and army officers, but you see the war with Iraq was essentially a ground war and winning conflicts of this type is very much dependent on the grit and determination of individual soldiers (or what they call cannon-fodder). As Tolstoy points out in his famous novel War and Peace, the final result of any war has more to do with the will and morale of individual soldiers than any plans and strategies designed by generals and senior officers.

What I find most filthy and despicable is the all-too-familiar logic of politicians who use wars to establish or perpetuate their dominance over the masses, and in this sense, there isn’t any great difference between Khomeini, Saddam, Bush, Hitler, etc…

Ali Mahani

Senior Grad at October 5, 2003 10:04 AM [permalink]:

Ali Mahani,

If you're 33, as you claim to be, then you are almost Fahmideh's age! Just imagine. If he had survived the war, who knows, he might very well be among us writing comments for Free Thoughts.

Dan Schmelzer at October 5, 2003 03:37 PM [permalink]:

AIS: I think it's difficult to judge how effective the system with regard to security specifically for Iranian people. I will easily believe the worst, but we haven't had any 9/11-style attacks from Iranians, now have we? :-)

Of course, this goes both ways, in that it supports the argument that Iranians are not predisposed toward these attacks. But how can accuse The Great Satan of being paranoid. ;-)

In any event, there are many reasons other than security why a visa might be denied or approved. Your post doesn't seem to entertain that fact.

Dan Schmelzer at October 5, 2003 03:44 PM [permalink]:

To make clearer, your post seems to discount the possibility that the multiple-purposed nature of the visa system could be part of a good overall system for security.

AIS at October 5, 2003 06:04 PM [permalink]:

Ali Mahani:
It is easy to blame the politicians -in this case the mullahs - for everything, but they wouldn't have had the power to enforce their policies without fanatic idiots doing it for them.To tell you the truth I prefer some the prgmatic mullahs to their idealist followers anyway. and in case you forgot the real war ended after the Iraq asked for cease fire and Saudi Arabia ....
The rest of it was an ideological war for liberationg Iraq and Qods ...and the world!
As I said before, I see no glory in fanaticisms. And if you really need to know I have a much deeper respect for those who fled or brought up excuses than those fanatics who went to war for their paradise.
Besides if you think Iraq could have annexed parts of Iran to itself without the international community doing anything about it or just accepting it you're wrong. But s long as we had fanatics to do it for them and they could sell missiles, why bother? so please stop this 'mennat' business of how the bassij etc. saved us all...blah blah blah!

My God, now basijees are supposed to have fought for the love of Iran! What next, ten years from now, the Ansar-e-hezbollah claiming it was doing all it did for democracy and liberal causes, and just later some bad politicians took advantage of them and misguided them? how far should this farce go?!

and putting Bush with Hitler is so unfair-plese have some decency.
(And I was surprised you forgot Sharon, then it would have be just so typical)

Dan Schmezler:
The problems facing Iranians and iranian students was and is out of proportion compared to other nationalities, without ANY reasonable grounds and sound logic.

Ali Mahani at October 6, 2003 02:25 AM [permalink]:

Senior Grad

Yes in that sense Fahmideh and I are about the same age, but problem is, that fellow didn't live to the age of 33: he died when he was 13.

And what's your obssession with my age, for Christ's sake? What makes you think I am at least 50 years old?

Senior Grad at October 10, 2003 08:44 PM [permalink]:

Ali Mahani:

I just think you are more mature than your age.

:->

Dan Schmelzer at October 14, 2003 02:44 AM [permalink]:

AIS: As much as I would like to agree with you, newspaper accounts like the following lead me to believe that extra vigilence is warranted with regard to Iran.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A21493-2003Oct13.html

AIS at October 14, 2003 03:14 AM [permalink]:

The same visa problems existed before Al Qaida had a camp in Iran. Besides I told you of how people are given and refused visas from a group of people who get interviewd in a day, of twins to only one of whom visa was given,husbands and wives who get only one visa, people who are denied visa in one embassy and then get it in another. Believe me, it's a hell of a mess!

A side issue about the article: I am really frustrated with this difference that is still being made between Khatami people and the 'hardliners'. When are people gonna accept that they are all in this together?!
How come Khatami had power over security forces in the case of chain killings of intellectuals? that was a real competition for power, that's why.
Don't you people in the US see that IRI is playing with you by keeping these AlQaida members in front of your eyes but always a step back in the same way they played in 1979 and 1980 with the hostages? They know your state department want these people badly and they are playing hide and seek to secure their places in power. Just read your state department's statements about their dealings with Iranain officials. It's pathetic!

damira at December 19, 2003 10:22 AM [permalink]:

would you teach me your language

walid at January 7, 2004 01:53 PM [permalink]:

i need to ask the american embassy in abudhabi about my visa. i lost my passport while im trying to renew it.and i got a new passport but i dont have my visa printed on the new passport.so i need to know how can i get a new visa print because its essential for me ,im in houston texas.i need it to get a driver license and an identification card.im afraid if i go to abudhabi i wont be able to go back to houston.so plz if someoen can help me with this problem write me back at my email (libro22@hotmail.com)

Ms. Wessie at January 8, 2004 01:56 AM [permalink]:

"I wonder what kind of stupid process it is that takes 6 months for a visa?! These guys are really paranoid!"

Yes, well when 3000 INNOCENT people are killed in one fell swoop by Islamofacist militants, many of whom who were "students" I guess that is the source of the paranoia.

Why don't you all apply to study in Islamic countries if coming to the US is such a pain? Try Saudi Arabia, they just LOVE visitors and give visas very freely. ;-)

A Jewish survivor of the Holocausts once said: "If someone says they are going to kill you—believe them."

We believe that some Muslims want to kill us–regardless of whether they are Arabs or Persians or Malaysians or whatever sorts of Muslims. While all Muslims are not terrorists, ALL Islamic terrorists are Muslims. And let's be honest, Iran did, and still does sponsor Islamic terror just like Saudi Arabia.

Too bad that this little problem of Islamic origin inflicts hardship on "honest" students. Go complain to the Islamofascists NOT to the US! I'm sure that Osama and your ayatollahs would be happy to hear your petitions.

Often when one speaks to Muslims—higher degree students, scientists, even Ph.Ds they say something like this, "Well I am glad to be here, but Islam comes first. I hope I don't have to fight against America some day, but if I do I will because I want Islam to rule the world just like it says in the Qu'ran." That sort of attitude puts Americans off and makes us rather "paranoid,” given all the attacks we have suffered at the hands of Islam in recent years. We want to keep our secular democracy, thank you very much!

There are plenty of non-Islamic students, who want to come to the US —we'd rather have people whose religions don't insist: "death to the infidel!" and whose clerics don't incite murder of non-Muslims every Friday. We’d rather have people who respect and value our Western way of life and our freedoms and don’t want to use these against us.

It is not up to the US to change our attitude on Islamic terrorists. It is up to moderate Muslims to rein them in.

You have your work cut out for you—get to it instead of blaming the victims go catch your Islamofascist criminals—because, those people are putting the whole world, not just your educations, into jeopardy.

In the meantime, don't think you are the only ones who have to wait. Get into line like everyone else. Each and every time we Westerners have to wait in an interminable flight security line or have our bodies searched by some moose of a security agent or have all of our stuff unpacked and thrown on the floor and then have to run for a flight— We thank Islam.

Why should your lives be any easier than ours? ;-)

Wessie

Loose Can at January 8, 2004 10:03 AM [permalink]:

Just a note Wessie, to many Iranians, but not all, but many indeed, Islam does not come first. It doesn't even come.

How many Iranians have you met that told you that? As an Iranian I feel ashamed to be categorized based on my parents' religion and not based on what I am -at least what I think I am!

If you talk like this, don't be surprised if "small time devils" like Osama call for death to infidels; it is exactly "the open-mindedness" that differentiates between the true devotees to a democratic society and believers in an organized religion like some factions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

Anyway I hope that you would never regret the current US policies, policies that I hope, at least might stop terrorist attacks on the US soil... I really hope, but I keep my reasons to myself for that.

Wessie at January 8, 2004 01:13 PM [permalink]:

Loose Can:

I find the above post very confusing. Could you re-phrase it so that it is comprehensible?

You appear to be saying two things at once. You seem to believe that one cannot be religious and democratic at the same time, while I believe that Christianity and most other religions EXCEPT Islam are completely compatible with democracy and pluralism.

BTW—I do regret many of the policies of the current administration. I believe they will do little but encourage more Islamic terrorism.

Wessie

Loose Can at January 8, 2004 03:27 PM [permalink]:

"some factions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity": "Factions" Ms. Wessie not all of them. Even now there are "Christians" that when they see a Jew on the public transit, they would inform him that "servants are not allowed on the bus" and that was witnessed in Switzerland only 2 years ago.

I can easily put all "Abrahamic" religions in one basket. In fact Islam is so close to the "Telmud"ic Judaism that even Muslims get astonished by the similarities. And that tips a lot about the origin of Islam...

Please look at my wording: I was talking about the "organized religion"s not personal or moral religions or "ways of life".

How much do you know about Islam anyway? Have you looked at any modern scholarly text on Islam? I am not talking the ones written by leftist ideologues, the ones written by conservative scholars, and there are many of those... and then I have to add [contradicting myself of course] that you will come back to the original conclusion that Islam in its contemporary form, is the least compatible of all religions with democracy and pluralism! Nonetheless I get a feeling that your statement is not very well grounded; that's all, I agree with you in that!

Wessie at January 9, 2004 04:07 PM [permalink]:
“How much do you know about Islam anyway? Have you looked at any modern scholarly text on Islam? I am not talking the ones written by leftist ideologues, the ones written by conservative scholars, and there are many of those... and then I have to add [contradicting myself of course] that you will come back to the original conclusion that Islam in its contemporary form, is the least compatible of all religions with democracy and pluralism! Nonetheless I get a feeling that your statement is not very well grounded; that's all, I agree with you in that!” I know a great deal about Islam and Christianity—despite not being a Christian or a Muslim. I would venture to guess that I know more about Islam than you do about Christianity and I may know more about Islam as well. I have read about Islam all of my adult life as a student of comparative religions and have found Islam sorely lacking as a moral precept because of its misanthropy and misogyny. There is no such thing as “Islam in its contemporary form!” Islamic scholars consider the Qu’ran the immutable world of allah— not interpretable and non-changeable. Those who “interpret” are considered apostates. So as not to be repetitive, have posted a great deal regarding this subject here: http://freethoughts.org/archives/000343.html I can give you literally hundreds of scholarly references on Islam and its history written by both Islamic and Western scholars that show Islam to be a “religion” of subjugation and of war—a “religion” of misanthropy and misogyny. Amazing that Muslims immediately conclude that Westerners don’t know much about Islam when our opinions and conclusions don’t suit those of Muslims. Since 9/11 books about Islam have jumped off the shelves in the West. Even those who had no clue before are reading the Qu’ran, the hadith and many other scholarly books. The conclusion people are drawing is that Islam is not compatible with modern democracy, pluralism or the secular rule of law. That is why it is doubtful that the war in Iraq will bring democracy to that part of the world. Muslims don’t really want democracy it seems. They only want all the “goodies” that freedom provides without having to pay the price. That price is personal responsibility—something sorely lacking in the Islamic world of blame the “infidel” and the Jew for whatever self-inflicted misfortune plagues Muslims. “I can easily put all "Abrahamic" religions in one basket. In fact Islam is so close to the "Telmud"ic Judaism that even Muslims get astonished by the similarities. And that tips a lot about the origin of Islam...” Loose Can, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. No other religion has in its “holy” book hundreds of hateful passages like this: • "Prophet, make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home." (9:73) • "Slay the idolaters wherever you find them. ... lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way ..." (9:5) • "Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God’s religion shall reign supreme" (8:39) • Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surly God is high, suprem ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Kaveh Kh. at January 9, 2004 04:32 PM [permalink]:

Wessie, as the author of the post I just received your comment in email and was astonished at the degree of hostility you show against Muslims in your last paragraph. I understand that many Americans [and in fact people from around the world and even in Iran] are upset with Muslims, but I think helping fellow human beings regardless of their religion and despite diplomatic hostility is an act of courage not stupidity.

By the way there is no one living in tents from the previous Earthquake in Iran, well... I am from the region and have never heard such a thing. However, instead of encouraging hostilities in the region by extending their military arm, the Iranian government COULD have done something about Earthquake prevention.

Please do not generalize without impunity and I hope that this comment is not misinterpreted.

Eswin Oakman at January 9, 2004 05:33 PM [permalink]:

Kaveh et al:

Wessie's claims are based upon a lack of understanding as to how many muslims have already started viewing the Koran in terms other than the ones shaped by reactionary and extremist zeal.

Today, those who believe that the Koran cannot be read ahistorically are many. The unfortunate fact is that they cannot express themselves in ways that the radicals who are in power can.

In his account, Wessie appears to be unware that amongst many Muslims the word of the Koran cannot be read narrowly. In fact, from the followers of Soroush in Iran, to the followers of Hassan Hanafi in Egypt, and the followers of the modernist democratic movement of Islam in Indonesia, a reformist wave has been very active in challenging the traditional readings of the Koran.

If some visible and violent few have used a Wahabi and traditionalist reading of the Koran to commit inhuman atrocities, one should be reminded that they are not welcome in the lands where they are preaching such hate. One should not forget that the "Judeo-Christian" tradition was capable of creating cults as violent to women and children as that of the Davidians, that was crushed by the FBI, or Timothy McVeigh.

Modernist readings of the Koran can now be found the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt's famous ruling on the Veil, that finds covering the face and head not "a must".

Ayatollah Saanei, ironically a former revolutionary mullah, today preaches that men and women are equal in Islam to the point that women can assume the position of highest religious authorities. Regardless of all the talk and the claims concerning the incentives and honesty of such verdicts, one thing is clear: Islam and Muslims cannot be treated in highly aggregate terms and overgeneralizations do not correspond to a majority of the Muslims' true feelings.

One thing that Wessie has failed to address in his polemic is that "subjecting others to humiliation" is rejected by all secular and religious visions of humanity. The Canadian government and Sweden, specifically Anna Lindh the late Foreign Minister of Sweden, in different foreign policy statements warned about the dramatic effects of "humiliation", the US chose not to scale down the rhetoric nor the active humiliation of the potentially undesirable others.

On a final note, Wessie should be reminded that the Americans are so blinded by the people's birth place and so blindly following and discriminating against those born in Muslim countries that:

The American Immigration officials, a few years ago, put the Visa application of Shaul Mofaz, who was just fired by Ehud Barak as the Israeli Defence Force's Chief of Staff, on hold for three weeks just because he was born in Iran. If Wessie does not believe me I would be able to disclose to him my source.

It is easy for the brain-washed and those moved by emotion to over-generalize and stereotype.

Wessie at January 9, 2004 08:38 PM [permalink]:
”Wessie, as the author of the post I just received your comment in email and was astonished at the degree of hostility you show against Muslims in your last paragraph. I understand that many Americans [and in fact people from around the world and even in Iran] are upset with Muslims, but I think helping fellow human beings regardless of their religion and despite diplomatic hostility is an act of courage not stupidity.” Kaveh, what hostility? That is your perception and not my reality. I believe in being my “brothers’ keeper” and certainly we should have helped the poor people of Bam— and we did. America always helps—always! But, the bottom line is that there is evidence that the state of Iran is using our goodwill—once again—to cover for terror activities. That, IMHO, makes us stupid to again be taken in. Certainly the mullahs believe Americans in general and GW in particular to be stupid. However, make no mistake of the depth of feeling that Americans have against Islamic terrorism. And the longer we see Muslims not doing anything about it, the more hostility there will be. ”By the way there is no one living in tents from the previous Earthquake in Iran, well... I am from the region and have never heard such a thing. However, instead of encouraging hostilities in the region by extending their military arm, the Iranian government COULD have done something about Earthquake prevention. Perhaps you need to look at this: Iran Daily (English-language web site) ”If anyone told you that the quake victims of the past 10 or 20 years were still living in tents, you might not believe it. We are very good at lamenting and crying, but when it comes to planning, preventing and fortifying... we more or less do nothing but wait for the disaster to happen and then see what we can do. We know how to spend billions of dollars on bread and petrol subsidies so no-one raises their voice. But we are not prepared to spend the same amount on a national plan for making buildings quake-proof.” It was also on the US news. I heard it. ”Wessie's claims are based upon a lack of understanding as . . . Do you realize how insulting this statement is Oakman? You presume too much—again! Not all Americans are living in the backwoods. We have the most educated, most sophisticated and most successful society in the history of the world. Even poor people in the U.S. live better and in more comfort and longer than kings of old. There must be a few of us who have earned our advanced degrees and aren’t blithering yahoos. Additionally, not all Americans are U.S. born. Many of us have spent years abroad and know a little something of the world besides Mayberry. Certainly I am aware of the small movement for Islamic Reformation. However, that does not negate the fact that most Muslims around the world support Islamic terror with their silence and their zakat donations. Only Muslims support Islamic terror to the tune of billions of dollars. Just imagine if they had used those funds to better the plight of Muslims. “If some visible and violent few have used a Wahabi and traditionalist reading of the Koran to commit inhuman atrocities, one should be reminded that they are not welcome in the lands where they are preaching such hate.” That is an unmitigated LIE, Oakman! The Saudis and other Islamic nations have for decades bred, nurtured, supported and funded Islamic terror. The Saudis in particular have exported their brand of puritanical, violent Islam all o ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
An Iranian Student (AIS) at January 10, 2004 05:00 AM [permalink]:

Wessie,
do you seriously believe that body search in airports is of the same order of magnitude as being condemned to live in a prison like from every side just for having been born there?
What would you do if you happened to be born an Iranian yourself instead of an American, or the other nationality you had before becoming American? I'm really curious, can you put yourself in our shoes for a moment and see what it feels like? Can you? Did you happen to choose your birth place out of your cunning vision somehow? pardon the sarcasm, but some of what you are saying here just automaticaly brings it on.

Eswin Oakman at January 10, 2004 11:04 AM [permalink]:
Iranian Student (AIS): The question is not just that Wessie is a biased and brain-washed American or Iranian, or both or from where else, or Jewish or Christian or Muslim. It is also that he is not interested in responding to the challenges in debate like any other radical/extremist person. He would not like to respond to the challenge concerning Moffaz as I put. He says the Scandinavians are not going to be a threat because, by way of implication and explicit mentioning, they are white Nordic and Lutheran Protestant. Then: Is he suggesting that one of the bravest officers of the IDF who participated in the Entebbe operation had to be treated like that just because he was born in Iran? He also does not want to say why other Protestants in the US are so violent and/or aggressive in their approach towards women, children or minorities? He does not want to address my challenge concerning Timothy McVeigh's style of terrorism, and his friends who are still around and attack abortion clinics or harass the Jewish people in the States by trying to convert them to Christianity (there are many little cults out there, many of them who are after the Jewish people). He does not want to address how much fundamentalist Christian (who make a considerable portion of the population) in the States have been involved in violence against women and children, and I am not talking just about Davidians, but the practices in various states, and not just UTAH. The relevance of point is that there is a relationship between radicalism and violence regardless of the religion and over-generalization and stereotyping is unfair and humiliating. The so-called Evangelical Judeo-Christian violence does not loom large in his view because they have not committed large scale atrocities like the one that happened in NY. With reference to the potential of the Scandinavians for terrorism, unfortunately I am aware of a few of them who have become Muslim and they live in Iran and work in theology institutes in Qum. One of them is in fact a former Scandinavian-American who teaches at the main Madresseheyeh Feyzeeyeh in Qum. Is not this possible that there are more of them? And that there are more of them who are violent and Muslim and are of white Christian background? Or should one choose Wessie’s method and trivialize discontinuities and the visible few violent in order to achieve the exaggeration of the facts and exaggerating the reactionary approach taken henceforth. Wessie also does not pay attention to the fact that many Western European peoples nowadays find themselves sympathetic to Muslims and the humiliation they are undergoing. In fact, in a recent poll Europeans stated that they consider Israel (the most important ally of the Judeo-Christian oriented American government) "the threat to the world peace". In fact, now I know many European families who do not mind giving sanctuary to Muslims who are persecuted by the United States. Concerning Islamic lands: In Egypt, even according to many Israelis sources, Judiciary is one of the most independent institutions. That is why Mubarak created the security tribunals. But again last year, the Supreme Court of Egypt ordered the release of 12 human rights activists despite their previous conviction by the security court and after almost two years of Jail. What would Wessie say to that? In Morocco and Jordan a new concept of Islamism has emerged since 1990s and is very popular that rejects violence. In Egypt between ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Wessie at January 10, 2004 04:15 PM [permalink]:


“do you seriously believe that body search in airports is of the same order of magnitude as being condemned to live in a prison like from every side just for having been born there?”

Iranian Student: I believe that every people get the government they deserve.

As to your mean-spirited remark about the “choosing” my birth place. . . You have no idea what sort of trial I might have gone through to ultimately end up in the U.S. Don’t assume that your suffering is the only suffering there has ever been! The suffering in the land from which I came was also self-inflicted, just as the suffering in Islamic lands is self-inflicted by Muslims. Successful democracies take responsibility for their failings.

I believe it is the personal responsibility of Muslims to free themselves. It is not the responsibility of the US government to spend blood and treasure to give democracy to Muslims who will clearly not be able to handle it, given the tenets of Islam. Now, having said that, I also believe that IF democracy can take hold it will do so in Iran more so than any other Islamic nation. Iranians are well educated and have had enough (or so it seems) of the mullahtocracy. Additionally 70% of Iranians are very young and therein lies Iran’s best hope. However, in the rest of the Islamic world, particularly in the Arab states, the issue is not the same. While there are many young people, there are all too many who are illiterate—indolent, illiterate young men with no hope for the future—that is a formula for murderous jihad.

As to the body searches at airports and all the inconveniences we now suffer the world over as a result of 9/11, I hold Muslims responsible for that. Whom do you hold responsible?

Wessie

Wessie at January 10, 2004 04:34 PM [permalink]:

“The question is not just that Wessie is a biased and brain-washed American or Iranian, or both or from where else, or Jewish or Christian or Muslim. . . . radical/extremist person . . . Wessie does not have enough knowledge in this area and/or is brain-washed and completely biased in his judgements.”

Oakman, I have told you before I am a woman!. I have already answered the points that you again regurgitate—above. If you cannot comprehend these then you might want to see a neurologist about those non-firing synapses. ;-)

Your arrogant and disrespectful demeanor, as well as your ad hominem attacks and name calling are typical of many Middle Easterner males who are clueless about democracy and the responsibilities that come with living in one. Your refusal to admit that it is Islam and not the West that is responsible for the misery in Muslim lands is also rather telling. With respect to “brain-washing” take a hint Oakman—yours could use some serious laundering based on the ludicrous assumptions you are putting into my post.

BTW—Oakman, why are you in the West? Why don’t you live under peaceful, tolerant Islamic sharia? Oh, I just remembered, you have a double whammy—aren’t you the guy who is half German, half Iranian? Neither fish nor fowl. ;-)

As to the support from Europe of Muslims—ever hear of “Fortress Europe”? Ask the Germans what they think Islam some time. Check with the individual state (Landesregierung) governments and their move to outlaw hijab. The French, the Italians and the Danes are not too keen on Islamic extremists either. Virtually every European government is moving against radical Islamists with new laws and 48-hour deportation; because, Europe wants to stay secular and democratic while the radicals want to Islamicize it. Even the Vatican has come out with some choice words about “tolerant” Islam:

Christians in Islamic Countries

“La Civiltà Cattolica” . . .“in all of its history, Islam has shown a warlike and conquering face”; that “for almost a thousand years, Europe lived under its constant threat”; and that what remains of the Christian population in Islamic countries is still subjected to “perpetual discrimination,” with episodes of bloody persecution. . .”

http://213.92.16.98/ESW_articolo/0,2393,41931,00.html

It is interesting to see the differences in perception of Islam on these sites. Apostates have a very dim view of Islam, perhaps even dimmer than mine. And the apologists—well—you can see Oakman making his points. ;-)

Ms. Wessie

AIS at January 11, 2004 03:10 PM [permalink]:
Wessie, I am not here to argue. I am really curious, see this for me is a real conscience problem. I can not convince myself that a country like the US and its free citizens, living in a society that has experienced centuries of enlightenment and has absorbed the new and deep insights of continuous scientific and social revolutions SHOULD really behave fundamnetally different from countries and cultures that are still in their dark ages. Don't take me wrong, i don't support for a moment claims like the imperialist west and America are the true cause of evil in the world with their greed to take over and feed upon others and similar left shit, but I DO believe that people who have the good fortune of living, either by birth or choice, in a free and democratic and prosperous society in a world of madness,ignorance and poverty in most of it do have a RESPONSIBILTY. To me this is the essence of justice, more rights, more responsibility. I can't accept an attitude of every man (or nation) for himself from an American. This is so absurd, I mean it is impossible in the world today to have such claims as yours. It has become too small and we are too dependant on each other. America has also interfered in other places for its interest, there is no point in denying that and not always for the better, but I understand that as part of the imperfections of the world we live in and compare it with every other nation and see that Ameica in general has done more good than bad anywhere it goes, but it really won't do to resort to every man for himself rhetoric whenever you can. nice try! I must insist on this reponsibility. Don't take me wrong, I realize that the hard work, personal sacrifices and resourcefulness of the American people in her history played and plays a major part in her present prosperity. My problem is however that an American that is born into this society is lucky! (S)he didn't choose that deliberately, and neither has someone who is born in Iran or Africa or Saudi Arabia. The first person enjoys a good education, prosperity and is raised in a culture that makes out of him a hardworking and free citizen, the other in one of old dogmas and paranoia. Now doesn't the first have a reponsibilty due to his original good fortune towards the second, as HUMAN BEINGS, borders apart? "I believe that every people get the government they deserve." I can't express how out of place this remark is in such a discussion. That is a passive observation on trends in history, not the basis of moral action, FOR PETE'S SAKE! I am amazed on the internal inconsistancy of your points. You rightly support and are proud of the achievments of the Western culture on human rights and democracy. Well the basis of that achievement is INDIVIDUALISM, that no person should be held responsible or be punished for what the group he belongs to does. That is the BASIS of all that west stands for. Really how can you then go about and say such a thing?! How can you claim to be proud of the West and then treat muslims or anybody else in such a collective manner? My position on ISLAM should be clear to you by now, but muslims are human beings, complex and each of them an individual that desreves being treated as such. If you can't differenciate between the two then I am speechless. Many of us here recognize the STUPIDITY , the immense stupidity that gave rise to that horrible revolution back in 1979, but by God, many of us and many many others weren't even born then! Y ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
AIS at January 11, 2004 03:17 PM [permalink]:

You see I am still naive enough to beleive in Saadi:

Children of Adam are parts of the same body
For in their creation, they are of the same essence

If one part is harmed by the hands of fate
The other parts can't rest in peace

If you are indifferent to the plight of others
You do not desreve to be called a human

(He was a much adored poet during the enlightenment period in europe by the way.)

AIS at January 11, 2004 03:19 PM [permalink]:

Oops again!
on the comment above please replace 'Should behave fundamentaly the same' in the third sentence.
(damn it)

AIS at January 11, 2004 03:23 PM [permalink]:

Wessie,

"As to the body searches at airports and all the inconveniences we now suffer the world over as a result of 9/11, I hold Muslims responsible for that. Whom do you hold responsible?"

I hold ISLAM responsible for that.

AIS at January 11, 2004 03:56 PM [permalink]:

A very well written article:
http://mensnewsdaily.com/archive/s/shirazi/04/shirazi010804.htm

(I got the link from the blog Pejmanesque)

Oh, and Wessie unlike you I totally support the present administrations policies after 9/11 as both effective and humane.

AIS at January 11, 2004 04:03 PM [permalink]:

To get back to the subject of this thread:

Recent outpourings of Khatami's wisdom:
"We have signed the additional protocol and if the Americans have good will now they should take back their words and also accept our legal right to have peaceful nuclear technology under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency."

THIS IS WHAT WE GET WHEN WE VOTE FOR THESE ANIMALS!

Wessie at January 11, 2004 04:21 PM [permalink]:

"Oh, and Wessie unlike you I totally support the present administrations policies after 9/11 as both effective and humane."

I only support some, AIS. I have a problem with the "Enemy Combatants" (as well as American citizens) being held without trial. That is now going to the Supreme Court.

However, our attacking al Qaeda in Afghanistan as well as taking out Saddam is OK with me. I do wish that Bush had been more diplomatic and enlisted more allies, because this is costing the U.S. a fortune. The WHOLE rest of the world should pay for security!

I do think this will change as we go along. Our trillion dollar deficit will soon endanger the world's economies—which is just exactly what ObL wanted.

As for the Islamic bomb. =:o

I have no doubt whatsoever that the Islamofascists will use it some time in the near future. Why oil rich Iran "needs" nuclear anything for "peaceful purposes" is beyond all civilized peoples' comprehension. It is bad enough that radical-Islamic Pakistan has such weapons. Iran's mullahs have made it clear that their mission is to wipe Israel off the map. Even some Israelis believe there will be a nuclear confrontation some time soon.

It's just a matter of time folks. Any day now the sky will light up. . . Just hope you are closer than not far enough away from the mushroom.

At the very least there will be a dirty bomb or two. Those are easy to get and easy to deploy. While the "fall out" would not necessarily be that big a deal, it certainly would cause mass panic. That's what they are aiming for—anarchy.

Wessie


Wessie at January 11, 2004 05:02 PM [permalink]:

For all of you long-suffering visa seekers, here is a bit of dark humor while you are waiting:


Scenes From A Sad Airport
Welcome to America. Please give us the finger. Smile for the camera. Now get the hell out

http://www.sfgate.com/columnists/morford/

Señor Græd at January 15, 2004 01:27 PM [permalink]:

I don't know whether it is related, but I thought it was pretty funny:

"An American Airlines pilot was arrested at Sao Paulo International Airport after making an obscene gesture while being photographed by Brazilian immigration officers."

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=3543875&thesection=news&thesubsection=world

Señor Græd at January 15, 2004 01:42 PM [permalink]:

Quick follow-up:

Funny thing is, if such a thing had happened in Iran the pilot probably wouldn't be bothered at all. the reason is simple: many Iranians don't know the meaning of Western gestures.

Look this up: http://nonverbal.ucsc.edu/gest.html

Wessie at January 15, 2004 02:28 PM [permalink]:

"I don't know whether it is related, but I thought it was pretty funny"

Well, Majesty, the Brazilians are pretty pissed that we now have enacted such stringent security measures to "dare" to finger-print and photograph people. LOL Therefore, they are going to "get" anyone they can.

They should simply employ the same methods and assist in the apprehension of international terrorists. The people who are not criminals or terrorists have nothing to fear from fingerprints or photos. Of course, the problem in Brazil is that almost everyone has to do a bit of "shady" business because of the corrupt system. Perhaps that is the reason they are all so wound up about being finger printed and photographed? ;-)

As to "obscene" gestures in other cultures. Yesterday I was in a restaurant and when the waitress came up to ask, "How is lunch?" I made the high sigh, (thumb and forefinger connected) because my mouth was full—fully aware that the circle gesture is considered obscene in some cultures.

It would be a good thing if people studied up on this before going abroad. Now flipping the bird, as the pilot did, is well known in most all cultures. Perhaps he should have shown the soles of his shoes instead. ;-)

Wessie


Señor Græd at January 15, 2004 03:52 PM [permalink]:

Good!

At least we're now clear that you don't have any animosity against *Iranians* or other brands of fundamentalist *Muslims* alone! You think even thong-wearing utterly decadent "Brazilians are pissed" at America. Which is most probably true.

Based on those comments of yours that I have read, you seem to me to have an everybody's-against-the-and-inferior-to-West/America kind of mentality. Other people just don't get democracy and are doomed. "Happy me who have made it to the center of civilization!"

Get over it, already. People are people. You were simply "lucky" to have been born in the West and have happened to have had the means to immigrate to the U.S. You cannot possibly claim any credit in making America the way it is. Just take a moment and ask yourself where you could have ended up, had you been born in a third world country. You could've been living in a wealthy Arab sheykh's harem, and that only *if* you were one of the luckier ones. Just imagine!

You have embraced the American civilization as your god (or, not to be sexist, goddess) and think of yourself and your secular faith as superior to everybody who is not part of your religion. This is, ironically, against the very idea of America. Think about it!

I gotta go now, but let me provide some ;-)'s here so you can plant them whenever in my text that you see fit: ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ...

Elnaz at January 15, 2004 05:00 PM [permalink]:

Dear Ms. Wessie,
Just one point. You mentioned that Islamists have killed thousands of innocent people.you're right but you claimed that other religions haven't.
but forgive me if I ask you what in your opinion were the Serbs doing in Bosnia?

My point is that people no matter what their religion and/or race or country of origin is can be extremist. believe me!

Wessie at January 16, 2004 12:22 AM [permalink]:

". . .You think even thong-wearing utterly decadent "Brazilians are pissed" at America. Which is most probably true.
. . .

Of course it's true, Majesty. They have said so. Can you blame them with the current administration's policies?

". . . you seem to me to have an everybody's-against-the-and-inferior-to-West/America kind of mentality. Other people just don't get democracy and are doomed. "Happy me who have made it to the center of civilization!"

Actually, Majesty, I used to care that they "got democracy" for many, many years—until I finally saw that they are never going to help themselves. They are just going to continue Islamic terror.

Now, I could care less what they do or how they live or whether their women are oppressed—as long as they stay on their side of the fence! ;-) It does not bother me one whit that Muslims or whoever do not embrace democracy. As long as they don't want to export their brand of despotism and failed societies to the rest of the world. :-D

This site is a good example. They piss and moan about the "not so free" West. That they can't do exactly as they please. They ask how to "make a democratic paradise on earth" yet, are not willing to understand what it takes. [shrug] Whatever! As the kids say. ;-)

As to being "lucky" enough to have been born in freedom. You too are "lucky" but don't appear to appreciate it. The others seem to want to bring their misery to us instead of making their own lives better. There are plenty of examples such as Hong Kong and Japan that are doing rather well with few resources but lots of democratic institutions. Why don' t you go read George Ayittey?

Thanks for the emoticons. :-D Always useful. ;-)

"You mentioned that Islamists have killed thousands of innocent people.you're right but you claimed that other religions haven't. but forgive me if I ask you what in your opinion were the Serbs doing in Bosnia?"

Sorry, Elnaz, I never said such a thing! I have castigated all religions including Christianity for their barbarity in past ages. However, I believe in the modern world Islam has the market cornered on religious terrorism as evidenced by reports every single day of some wacko jihadi murdering innocents. Yesterday it was a 22 year old mother of two:

Palestinians Hail Female Bomber As Hero

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/ap/20040115/ap_on_re_mi_ea/israel_palestinians

As to Bosnia, you might want to remember that the US came to assist Muslims. had we not, the Serbs would surely have wiped them out. Yet, they attacked us on 9/11 in the name of Islam— regardless. Thus, you now have visa problems and probably will have for at least the next 4 years—unless of course Islamic states reform before then. We won't hold our breaths. ;-)

Wessie

Warning to Wessie at January 16, 2004 03:11 AM [permalink]:

Wessie,

You have clearly passed the line. Be warned that if you continue to make racist comments and spew hate, you will loose the chance to ever make yourself heard here. You may shrugg your shoulders as you wish, but to use one of your favourite catch phrases: "your rights end where my nose starts." So use it properly, or lose it!

Wessie at January 16, 2004 04:00 AM [permalink]:

"You have clearly passed the line. Be warned that if you continue to make racist comments and spew hate, you will loose the chance to ever make yourself heard here. You may shrugg your shoulders as you wish, but to use one of your favourite catch phrases: "your rights end where my nose starts." So use it properly, or lose it!"

I'm a bit mystified here.

If I criticize any other religion, Christianity in particular, as I have many times and I criticize the US administration as I have many times—that is OK. But, if I point out that Muslims have failed states (a truth) and that they perpetrate terror against innocents (a truth) then that is "hate" and "racist"?

I have not named ANY race! I have said that Muslims breed, support, fund and export Islamic terror world wide. That is a fact and I support those facts with links to the evidence as above.

Tell me where I not telling the truth here oh, anonymous one?

Additionally, Muslims all over the world, many public figures with Ph.D.s say terrible things about the West and the US. That our president is "stupid" or "retarded" or an "idiot." That Condoleezza Rice is a "jungle creature." "Death to the Great Satan" (an Iranian specialty) and on and on.

So, why is all that OK, but the truth about Islamic terrorism with links and quotes from the Qu'ran is not?

You will never get democracy if you keep shutting up the truth tellers.

Wessie

yahya at January 16, 2004 10:21 AM [permalink]:

I don't understand "warning to wessie" comment. FToI has a comment policy and its editors should enforce it. Anybody else who has complaints has to contact the editorial board.

Wessie at January 16, 2004 10:52 AM [permalink]:

"The restoration of religion to the sphere of the personal, its depoliticization, is the nettle that all Muslim societies must grasp in order to become modern. The only aspect of modernity interesting to the terrorists is technology, which they see as a weapon that can be turned on its makers. If terrorism is to be defeated, the world of Islam must take on board the secularist-humanist principles on which the modern is based, and without which Muslim countries' freedom will remain a distant dream."


Continually denying as to whether Islamic terrorism or the lack of visas is about Islam will get everyone no where. Just as more jihadi attacks against innocents will get you even fewer visas.

In my opinion, any Muslim who supports Islamic terror with his silence and zakat donations is culpable for the crimes of Islamic terrorists.

You might want to review the articles below while you are complaining about how difficult it is to get visas because, "the West is "racist" and "bigoted" against Muslims. No, we are not! But, we do want to keep our populaces secure.

You all might try reading the Qu'ran and the hadith that have hundreds of passages instructing Muslims toward terror against the "unbelievers." It is up to Muslims to admit their culpability for Islamic terror and move against it as forcefully as they deny this is about Islam.

Wessie


Yes, This Is About Islam

By SALMAN RUSHDIE

The trouble with this necessary disclaimer is that it isn't true. If this isn't about Islam, why the worldwide Muslim demonstrations in support of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda? Why did those 10,000 men armed with swords and axes mass on the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier, answering some mullah's call to jihad? Why are the war's first British casualties three Muslim men who died fighting on the Taliban side?. . .

. . .An Iraqi writer quotes an earlier Iraqi satirist: "The disease that is in us, is from us." A British Muslim writes, "Islam has become its own enemy." A Lebanese friend, returning from Beirut, tells me that in the aftermath of the attacks on Sept. 11, public criticism of Islamism has become much more outspoken. Many commentators have spoken of the need for a Reformation in the Muslim world. . . ."

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/02/opinion/02RUSH.html?ex=1074402000&en=5ce0a50b8e783ce2&ei=5070


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Regarding a clash of civilizations, Samuel Huntingdon's seminal piece on that might be worth reading for you all. It has since been made into a book.

The Clash of Civilizations

"Summary: World politics is entering a new phase, in which the great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of international conflict will be cultural. Civilizations-the highest cultural groupings of people-are differentiated from each other by religion, history, language and tradition. These divisions are deep and increasing in importance. From Yugoslavia to the Middle East to Central Asia, the fault lines of civilizations are the battle lines of the future. In this emerging era of cultural conflict the United States must forge alliances with similar cultures and spread its values wherever possible. With alien civilizations the West must be accommodating if possible, but confrontational if necessary. In the final analysis, however, all civilizations will have to learn to tolerate each other."

http://www.foreignaffairs.org/19930601FAESSAY5188-faarticles/samuel-p-huntington/the-clash-of-civilizations.html

Grand Vizier at January 16, 2004 11:06 AM [permalink]:

Hey Wessie,

I liked your comment about Muslims admitting to what is done in the name of their religion and the violent nature of many passages in their scripture. Interestingly I saw "Unbearable Lightness of Being" Last Night and there is a scene [of course taken from the book] in which Tomasz compares the apologetic nature of the Soviets after the Stalin era and their claims that they didn't know about those atrocities to the story of Oedipus Rex and the fact that after he [Oedipus] commits all those crimes, unknowingly, when he finds out, and also finds out what has happened to his people, under the pressure of guilt, carves his own eyes out.

The eyes that failed to see...

Muslims, if there is to be any hope for them, shall see or someone else might come and carve their eyes out for them.

Wessie at January 17, 2004 05:14 AM [permalink]:

One of my favorite movies. Odd, I have thought of that movie the last few days. Interesting that you mention the analogy Grand Vizier. :-)

If I recall correctly it was columnist Thomas Friedman who recently stated that the Soviet Union met its demise because the US and the Soviets agreed on what was shameful. Clearly some Muslims don't agree on the shamefulness of suicide jihad. They are "humiliated" that the US has deposed Saddam Hussein, but are not shamed by his atrocities. Muslims are "humiliated" that their women are not permitted to wear the veil in France, but are not shamed by the fact that half of the Muslim population—women—don't have any more rights than a coddled pet. I always find this sort of reasoning, well—shameful.

"Let us put aside the literary phrase `We are brothers but others are dividing us,' ""We in Iraq and elsewhere are not brothers — there are problems we inherited from our own history and social makeup, which were not helped by oppressive modern regimes. . . . Let's be frank: the Shiites today scare the Sunnis; the Sunnis and the Shiites together scare the Kurds; and the Kurds scare the other minorities. . . . All the ethnic groups of Iraq have the responsibility of putting nation-building above their selfish and conflicting calculations." Arab columnist Hazem Saghieh in Al Hayat.

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"We are a respectful family who love our nation, flag and the Koran," the grieving father, Sefik Elaltuntas, told the Zaman newspaper. "But we cannot understand why this child had done the thing he had done . . . First, let us meet with the chief rabbi of our Jewish brothers. Let me hug him. Let me kiss his hands and flowing robe. Let me apologize in the name of my son and offer my condolences for the deaths. . . . We will be damned if we do not reconcile with them."

Father of one of the Turkish suicide bombers who hit the synagogues.
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Here is the bottom line:

"The Islamic world should take stringent measures against terrorism without any `buts' or `howevers.' " Cemil Cicek, the Turkish government spokesman

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The civilized world is willing to help, but in the end it will be up to Muslims to kill the monster they have created. We can only pray they do it in time—before the Islamic terrorists get WMDs. Because if the unthinkable happens, then none of us will have to worry about who gets a visa.

Wessie

Babak S at January 17, 2004 06:11 AM [permalink]:

I good come back to wise comments, Wessie! Hopefully you'll stay there. I second your opinion in your conclusion.

Señor Græd at January 18, 2004 08:25 PM [permalink]:

There seems to have been quite a bit of "wrestling" with Ms. Wessie going on during the past few days. Too bad I missed all the controversy. One of the columns under a Hamed's writing was actually closed by the time I came back, so I couldn't leave this comment there! I guess I'll read all the debate later some time. Hmmm. Or maybe not.

I don't think Wessie's comments were outright offensive (the ones I read), but she clearly failed to show any sympathy whatsoever towards fellow human beings, Iranians and Muslims in particular. I would describe her simply as a "pain in the neck". You can't confront her with logic, because she has a one-track mind, and in spite of her apparent knowledge and her purportedly scholarly background, she obviously lacks an open mind and an ability to see things from different perspectives.

AmericanWoman at January 18, 2004 10:00 PM [permalink]:

Well, Senor, I have to agree with you on this. Whether or not we are Moslem (and some of us are not), whether or not we are critical of certain aspects of life in our place and times (almost all of us are), whether or not we are marginalized as women, or profiled as single-young-men-not-traveling-in-business-class, we can aspire to be gentlemen in the interest of scholarly discourse. Is it Aristotle who said "the unexamined life is not worth living?"

Wessie at January 19, 2004 09:04 AM [permalink]:

Comment moved to WessLog.

CW at January 19, 2004 09:42 AM [permalink]:


Excellent!

Let everyone have his say—away from us.

Marginalizing the truth tellers, just like the Islamic world has marginalized itself and is isolated from civilization.

The Islamic world continues to have problems listening to the truth about itself. [shrug] No problem for the free world. Muslims and their supporters will deny until they change things—or destroy us all.

Cassandra

Grand Vizier at January 19, 2004 10:19 AM [permalink]:

Wessie, Cassie, and other potential truthsayers,

Will you be responsible, if any of the authors of this website, once returning to Iran, or just for a short visit, finds him/herself under threat of prison/torture because of what YOU said on their comment sections? People write their stuff here, under their real names, with responsibility with respect to their future. Holding interenet journalists responsible for other people's comments in Iran has happened before and there is no reason why it won't happen again. Why do you think these guys have a disclaimer and so and so... Are they afraid of FBI? Hell, No. They are afraid of Shariatmadaris. That is why no violent or aggressive methods is preached here.

Mind you, if you are born of Muslim parents, denouncing Islam or any of the main Islamic teaching is automatically punishable by death and according to some there's no need for a judge for that... Of course you are saved, because you're not born a Muslim.

Ever thought of that, or you are just too busy proving to Muslims that they suck?

TELL ME WITHOUT DODGING THE QUESTION, if you were a journalist in Stalin's era[which was by far better than what is currently going on Iran, sometimes, but not always], would you ever publish an angry letter against the establishment and the communist ideology in your newspaper? Or if you wanted to have others read it anyway, would try to make it appear somewhere else, for which no one could be held responsible.

Eswin Oakman at January 19, 2004 12:13 PM [permalink]:

CW:

I think you don't realzie that Wessie's comments are still accessible, they are just in the virtual parallel universe of truth telling that will set all people's souls free REACHABLE THROUGH A HYPERLINK!

You can always double-click to reach there and enjoy the virtual reality of "WE ARE RIGHT EITHER WAY! AND REGARDLESS...!

Cassandra at January 19, 2004 12:30 PM [permalink]:

Moved to WessLog!

Kaveh Kh. at January 19, 2004 12:41 PM [permalink]:

After receiving more than 100 comments I got finally tired of reading these comments posted as emails.

I apologize to you all, and will close the comment section.

Please email me, if you have any concern, or unsaid words,

Thanks.