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July 18, 2004

Human rights are fundamental values
Mehdi Yahyanejad  [info|posts]

Did I tell you that I disliked Ebadi's speech in Boston?
I thought that the speech script was poorly written, with incorrect historical references (Hitler with good intentions?), misplaced emphasis on things (X-camp instead of Evin), and lacking the right expertise (trying to prove the compatibility of Islam and Democracy instead of talking about her own work). But dislike of her talk doesn't mean that I dislike who she is or what she does.
As a reaffirmation of this sentiment, I found the following beautiful letter from her in the Human Development Report of this year:

Human rights embody the fundamental values of human civilizations By Shirin Ebadi

People are different, and so are their cultures.
People live in different ways, and civilizations also differ.
People speak in a variety of languages.
People are guided by different religions.
People are born different colours, and many traditions influence their lives with varying colours and shades.
People dress differently and adapt to their environment in different ways.
People express themselves differently. Music, literature and art reflect different styles as well.
But despite these differences, all people have one single common attribute: they are all human beings—nothing more, nothing less.
And however different they may be, all cultures embrace certain common principles:
No culture tolerates the exploitation of human beings.
No religion allows the killing of the innocent.
No civilization accepts violence or terror.
Torture is abhorrent to the human conscience.
Brutality and cruelty are appalling in every tradition.

In short, these common principles, which are shared by all civilizations, reflect our fundamental human rights. These rights are treasured and cherished by everyone, everywhere.

So cultural relativity should never be used as a pretext to violate human rights, since these rights embody the most fundamental values of human civilizations. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is needed universally, applicable to both East and West. It is compatible with every faith and religion. Failing to respect our human rights only undermines our humanity.

Let us not destroy this fundamental truth; if we do, the weak will have nowhere to turn.


sara at July 18, 2004 07:42 PM [permalink]:

Salaam be Mehdi, va baghiyye,
Mehdi, I'm really sorry if I have to say it this way, but I am in total disagreement with this line of thinking. The reason why is:
So What!
What's the point of her lining up all these sentimental sentences?
Is she really telling us that she doesn't know anything about how power works, and what politics is!!
That, I think she knows better than anyone else --in her spidery playing it safe and conservative in all of her speeches!
Isn't it?
So! What is this?
The only thing I can think of, is that it's not her, talking!
I'm sorry, but based upon the above, I can't see why I shouldn't think so!
I mean, realisticly speaking!

Nasser at July 18, 2004 09:35 PM [permalink]:


One of the main reason that a person is granted Nobel peace is giving him or her kind of shelter that authorities can no longer be able to sue him or her or imprison him or her, for he/she is internationally well known now. Ms Ebadi has not been able to fulfil her obligation in this regard, and seize the opportunity to criticise the policies of Iranian regime. Instead, she has chosen to criticise policies of France or US. We all know that these kinds of ambiguous and theoretical declarations are not very useful. The above statement is just a mere brief and recitation of Universal Declaration of Human rights. You and I can also say exactly same stuffs. Although she is not a very well known lawyer, but at least she must start to criticise Iranian and Islamic laws and regulations from the point of view of Human Rights. She just keeps saying that US has no right to intervene in Iran, something that you can hear from Khameneyi’s speeches as well. Mehdi, what do you think?

Ali Mahani at July 19, 2004 12:18 AM [permalink]:

Well said, Sara!

SO WHAT? That's the basic point, and that's exactly what I said in a comment I posted to the forum entitled "Shirin's Day".

Now we see Ebadi sinking to the level of those peaceful, run-of-the mill activists: making insipid, boring speeches with the help of thread-bare clichés:
"People are different, and so are their cultures."
"People speak in a variety of languages."

Really? Hard work for you there! When exactly did you pull off these mighty feats of human intelligence?

AmericanWoman at July 19, 2004 12:27 AM [permalink]:

What did she actually win the Nobel Peace Prize for? Wasn't it actions taken on behalf of women and the poor? Sorry for my ignorance.

Wellesley Girl at July 19, 2004 12:39 AM [permalink]:

Sorry u guys, I didn't get the purpose of this post!? Could you remind me of your thesis here?

An Iranian Student (AIS) at July 19, 2004 02:33 AM [permalink]:

"No religion allows the killing of the innocent"

Heh...really?! but who are these famous "innocent"s in the first place? Those nicey little religions consider themsleves the judges of that, don't they?

The Irony of it all! Was there ever ANYTHING more responsible for the killing of innocents in man's history one way or the other than "religions"- especially the one she sees as her primal destiny in life to advocate?

(Why do I suspect this Zahra Kazemi case will go down the drains as well? hmmm...let's see....)

Eswin at July 19, 2004 11:52 AM [permalink]:

I second AIS' comments.

I am sorry. However, I always had mixed views about Ebadi's approach. She, in my view, did not deserve the prize as much as someone like Mehr Angiz Kar did.

I would also rephrase one of her clauses as follows:

People are often misguided by different religions!

Jangeh Haftad-do Mellat Hameh Raa Ozr Beneh

Chon Nadeedand Hagheeghaght Rahe Afsaaneh zadand,

But what is "haghighat"? What is truth?

Is truth the same truth that was used to slaughter the Shoobiyeh?!

To skin Sohrevardi alive?

For 200 years, Arabs did nothing but to pursue a culture of exploitation in Iran until they were expelled for good.

Even today, they are using their suicidal culture to revive their "forever”-dead empire.

"So cultural relativity should never be used as a pretext to violate human rights",

So Islam is not fundamentally in contradiction with Secular Liberal Human Rights?

If so, and if Islam as a concept is so benign, why has it always been used to abuse????? To impose one's language, as the language of god and angels, to other peoples?

Why Egypt is Arabic speaking today?

I am sorry, the Islam that the Prophet started had such a strong Arabist origin that no one bothered to elect Salman Farsi as the Caliph!

Ebadi is simply Naive and her Naiveté and others who think like her will confirm tyranny in Iran, and tighten the shackles of exploitation.

Shame! Shame! Shame!

Aghajari-found guilty at July 19, 2004 03:18 PM [permalink]:

AIS pinpointed a very important thing. The word "innocent" makes the following sentence really stinky. "No religion allows the killing of the innocent". It's so badly important, i felt obligated to repeat it.

Mirror at July 19, 2004 03:40 PM [permalink]:

One slice of Ebadi's actions is bigger and more valuable to me than all your thoughts combined.

I wonder what you philosphers do when it comes to action? This is a typical Iranian problem: we only know how to talk and we don't even do it well. If we did, we would have ,at least, contributed to the philosophers' club!

Eswin at July 19, 2004 03:49 PM [permalink]:


How do you know that some of us have never done anything substantive for Iran,, and in Iran, before?

How do you know if our close relatives are not similarly in trouble?

Join the philosophers club, as I invite you, you may one day enjoy the chance of being locked in a cell, or kicked out of your mother's land after being called anything but "an Iranian" by people who even don't want to be "Iranian" themselves.

And who knows, maybe you have had such a chance, or has provided for such chances, or is living such a chance as an inmate or a jailer...

This the virtual world after all!

sara at July 19, 2004 04:31 PM [permalink]:

In response to Mirror,

In fact I would not blame but rather appreciate her activities undertaken in Iran. But I can't have any admiratioon for her wishy-washy-sounding talks.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at July 19, 2004 11:43 PM [permalink]:


I am really curious to know your stance vis a vis J. W Bush , his administration and the US in general. Thanks.

(this might sound a bit off topic at first but I think not: I just want to know how far your preference of 'actions' against 'words' go, that's all.)

An Iranian Student (AIS) at July 20, 2004 12:37 AM [permalink]:

And I'd be most grateful if you add your opinion about Reza Shah and his 'actions' as well while you're at it, to give also a domestic point of reference.

(Our current action-heroine herself doesn't seem to share your fascination with these people's actions, whatever your satnce may be, BTW)

Mohammad at July 20, 2004 12:15 PM [permalink]:


Here is my two bits for the debate:

I read the Human Development Report, Mrs Ebadi's composition (this is not really a letter), and the index.
What I found odd was the names of authors and principal consultants of the report. I actually happen to know several people on the list either by reading their works, or by working with/for them!
It is hard to believe, but almost all of them are to the extreme left of the political spectrum. I happan to know the only Iranian on the list and she is not shy to say that she is a unreformed Marxist.
What I found odd again is the fact that ethnic identity and ethnocentric nationalism is fast becoming the holy grail of the new left.
This repaort, in spite of a mountain of evidence against ethnic federalism and in favor of liberal federalism, prescribes the former without even mentioning the latter.
They also mention a bunch of meaningless annecdotal evidence without any careful data analysis. As scientists we all know that annecdote does not provide good policy tools. I am also surprized by the one-sided support of regionalism against nation-states. Also, the report totally disregards the main idea behind modern economics, that is cost of information! Read it carefully and see what I mean for yourselves.

Mohammad at July 20, 2004 12:22 PM [permalink]:

As for Mrs Ebadi, she is becoming increasingly boring and limp! I mean, at least respect your position as a Nobel prize laureate! No one is going to touch her, and yet she sees the needle and forgets about the spear! This kind of wishy-washy cultural relativist BS might be good for over-the-coffee discussions of a bunch of freshmen, but they are definitely not acceptable from a noted activist.

Sit Thomas Lipton at July 20, 2004 12:24 PM [permalink]:

Most of you love moaning don't you? What do you mean by "So What"?

I support Mirror's comment. She is the woman of action. Instead of asking herself "So what?", she has stood up, done something and received the Nobel Prize for it. Ebadi is simply repeating her core values. She might have come to this conclusion that emphasising on these sentences and values could enlighten some people or work for her in a different way.

How on earth can you expect her to stand up against the Iranian regime and criticise them in every possible chance? Did "you" grant her the Nobel Prize? Is that why you expect her to do what "you" think is right? Did she get the prize for criticising the regime?

I agree that someone with a Nobel prize in hand and a worldwide recognition has a lot more power to enforce change, but how do you know what her idea of reform is? We all know that she got the prize mostly for her EFFORTS for democracy and human rights, and her ACTIVITY and "struggle" for the rights of women and children in Iran. Maybe she is not interested in criticising Khamenei or Jannati the way you are. Maybe she thinks repeating her values or criticising the French foreign policy is the key to her activities. What do think would happen if she starts criticising the government? The government could easily lock her outside the country and not let her back in. Will this be any helpful for the rights of women and children for which she's committed to fight? Would this help Zahra Kazemi's case?

Instead of daft statements such as "so what", why don't you send her a letter or an e-mail with your suggestions, complaints or your "so what" argument?

Babak S at July 20, 2004 02:36 PM [permalink]:

It seems that any topic related to Shirin Ebadi hopelessly devides people into antagonist groups. I can't help but feel pity over this. I understand one may have objections to some of the things Ebadi says, or her approach or her choice of topics for a public speech, etc; I do myself! But the fact remains that she is a legal activist, and a good one indeed. In any realistic critique of her work one should take this into account and give her due credit. Calling her names with no alternative clear plan of action does not lead anywhere.

occasional visitor at July 21, 2004 02:16 PM [permalink]:

I am sorry to say this, but you seem to be completely oblivious about analytical thinking.
We are discussing Ms. Ebadi's activism, a highly concret issue. I don't know what is the merit of making terse and incomprehensible allusions to
G.W.Bush and Reza Shah(!)

I for one would have prefered to see sentences with more legal than sentimental content. But in a country like Iran, where there is no commen ground for the limits of freedom of speech, you need a lot more weariness and subtlety in expressing your views.

You seems to harbor highly antagonistic views toward religon. Regarding your ramanticized comment on the role of religions in historical mass murders, I just wanted to mantion that sentimetal Nazis manage to establish the record 50 years ago. Open your eyes and read more history!

Eswin at July 21, 2004 03:14 PM [permalink]:

And what has this subtlety has earned Iran?
(Excuse me AIS, it is you who is being addressed, but I just could not..).

Antagonism is the result of the disappointment of people, learned or otherwise, in seeing that the Islamic Republic does not even want to allow a plurality of views that subscribe to its highly contradictory and full of "unless it contradicts the principles of Islam" reservations.

This is a substantive discussion.

And of course, you are right, any human ideology that turns into a totalist religion, such as Nazism or Communism, acts like one.

Your comment gives me an opportunity to remind you that Dr. Habdolhossein Zarinkoob tells us in Two Centuries of Silence that Persians were massacred in Marv just because they chose to do the Salaat (namaz) in Persian instead of Arabic!

Organized religion powered by the force the State was indeed the Torch Light for criminals like Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler. They realized not until they give a missionary facade that resonates with the masses like a messianic uniting force, they would not be able to turn brother/sister against brother/sister and children against parents and vice versa.

Those who know the history of Europe know that Charlemagne (Karl de Gross)'s army slaughtered 5000 to 8000 Saxon war captives to ensure that no force stands the spread of Christianity as ordained by the Bishop of Rome (the so-called Pope).

It has been brought to my attention that the Mufti of Tehran too calls himself the Leader of the Muslims of the World.

I asked you and all "the appeasers", what has the reformed, what have the subtle speakers/lawyers/constitutionalists have achieved but confirming and reconfirming a regime whose legitimacy is based upon the Absolute Guardianship of the Faqih?

The Constitution says the leader is equal with other people before the law. Then, why did he constantly allow himself to intervene and stop progressive legislation and give the Card Blanche to the Council of Guardian to virtually eradicate all the reformist candidates?

I am sorry but I do not see if Ebadi has used much of her activism in declaring that the regime has a totally authoritarian approach towards the rule of "its" own "Laws".

She has become yet another puppet in the hands of the rulers for their new show of the justice and legitimacy in Iran.

As I have said before the reformists failed to see that their counterparts do not believe in the rules of the game, they do not believe in any rules.

Indeed, if it is "realistic" to believe she is the last resort, it is not less "realistic" to see that she characteristically represents a futile persistence in a "belief" that attempted to realize itself for seven years, and spent the whole time to ensure its demise in the hands of constantly adjusting "authoritarian" radical and conservative clergies.

There is no course of action or alternative available for Iranians because we do not have the type leaders who would choose Gulags or house arrest (like Zao Zhiang). We simply live in a situation that reminds one of the trials of the members of Freedom Movement of Iran in the early 1960s. We have to wait, who knows, another 10 or 15 years to see a new movement rises from the ashes of this one. At the same time, we have the right and we do speak against "appeasement".

occasional visitor at July 21, 2004 07:24 PM [permalink]:

I need to clarify something at the begining:
I am not in favor of the current regime in
Iran, neither do I believe that it is an Islamic one. An islamic state has to maintain the freedom of speech as long as it stays within the general frameworks of Islam. Many incidents (Aqajari's trial is a good example) show that this regime cannot tolerate even this minumum level.

I agree with you that states can be transformed to Leviathans when fed with religon. I don't remember who said that any tool can turn into a weapon if you hold it right. My disagreements with you
(and probably AIS) start where you use this historical date to criticize religon per se. Except for a bunch of historical facts (though not very accurate, e.g. Sohrevardi was assasinated but not "skined alive") you have not provided any solid arguments to show that religon is inherently evil.
Anyhow, it is not a forum for discussing the value of religons, so I stop here.

It seem to me that you watch the world only through the windows of politics. Something like children's rights does not catch your eye because it does not have immediate political usage. I am curious to know your assessment of the Ms. Kaar's political achievemennts. Not that I am trying to belittle her accomplishments, but I just want to get you to think more critically about these your position.

Ms. Ebadi was awarded the Noble Peace Prize for what she had done when she was not in the spotlight. I remember that everyone had heard about her involvement in "Navaarsaazaan" case,
but I am not sure how many people know, even now, that she is the author of a handful of books on children's rights and women rights.

You profess to be "realistic" and interested in "truth" and "Europe history."
So you should know about the French dual
revolutions and must have some idea about what French paid to come from the First Republic to where they are now. "Human rights" is quite a powerful phrase in our times simply because human beings like you and I have spent lives to give meaning to it. It has evolved from something that today should properly be called "the rights of white men" to something completely different that is cherished by all humankind.

Eswin, I am not sure how much you really worry about these matters. I think if you really beleive that "human rights" is something
valuable and important for Iranian people, you should get preapared to fight for it. I am sure that Ebadi and many other activists in Iran are not in the same page with the leaders of this government, but they are still trying to get something done. We can make endless arguments on reconcilability of Isalam and democracy, without any visible outcome.
If we choose to fight, we will probably see the fruits of our labor. If we don't, I truely think that we should at least have the decency to shut up.

So if you want to criticize Ms. Ebdai, you are fine. But how much are you ready to pay?

I advise you to read more about the rights of ownership for women.

Eswin at July 21, 2004 09:07 PM [permalink]:

Dear O.V.:

I really appreciate that under the present circumstances any achievement may seem to go a long way.

I believe in human rights, but I am not idealistic about them. Aspiring for human rights and their realization, I indeed support and promote.

I have already paid my dues for activism a nearly a decade ago until I was forced out of my mother's land for purely political reasons. So I have had my encounter with the lack of human rights in Iran just before the Reform's sun was about to rise.

Hence, I have paid the price, a right that many take for granted.

Man az beegaanehgaan hargez nanaalam keh baa man har cheh kard aan ashnaa kard.

I do view many issues through the lens of politics and I insist politics and power politics in a very accurate sense has become the defining denominator of many economic and social relations in Iran.

Iranians today, perhaps, do realize that during the past 25 years they have become very diplomatic and indeed hypocritic in treating each other, but do not want to talk about it.

If you would like any other most available source, you can look at Karvaan Tassavof by Zarrinkoob.

I have seen how many families are no longer as supportive of each other and social relations are increasingly collapsing.

Gofta zeh keh naalim keh az maast keh bar maast.

I could have gone and seen Ms. Ebadi when she came to Canada, but I refused.

Children are constantly being abused in Iran and I do not see her achievements to have really been given much of a practical attention.

Two close friends of mine in Iran are lawyers and I am sorry that I cannot tell you their names, but one of them worked closely with Dr. Faramarz Goodarzi in the Department of Forensic Medicine in Tehran for quite some time. I have not heard that violence against children has necessarily very improved.

Indeed, how can it improve when the Judges can use the Shari'a to make their rulings and implement such rulings based upon "you and your father are the property of your father (Mohammad's) saying. In one of such rulings, a man who had killed his daughter was simply kept in jail for a year and then let go. And this is just one case that we know of. Of course you can say the situation is worse in other countries, I appreciate that but please let us focus on what is going on in Iran.

We do not have a proper institute of criminology in Iran so I really do not know how you can celebrate the achievements of Ms. Ebadi on an empirical basis.

No one talks about how drugs and prostitution are driving poor families towards violence against their children in the major urban centres in Iran. The social catastrophe just renders one speechless.

You still have not addressed my concern that we should not do anything that would legitimize this regime. You cited Aghajari so I take you agree implicitly.

I assure you of one thing, I have already made it my mission that Iranians should be proud and aware of their Iranik heritage, and this is a big thorn in the side of the so-called Islamic Republic of Iran in its own right.

And as to Sohrevardi, I think you are mistaken and the following Britannica source online, you can look up, to see that he was executed under a fatwa issued by the Ulama that convinced Malik Zahir to put him to death. So it was indeed an execution:

Eswin at July 21, 2004 10:28 PM [permalink]:

Sorry this sentence belonged to the PS section but I srewed it up when I was doing cut&paste:

PS: After the Britannica link:
If you would like any other most available source, you can look at Karvaan Tassavof by Zarrinkoob.

eswin at July 21, 2004 10:35 PM [permalink]:

The respective hadith that I have cited is constantly used in Iranian courts by the way.

Its original form is something like:

Anta va maalika' li'abika' which is: You and your property belong to your father.

There is consenus over its authenticiy amongst the Shiite and Sunni sources and it has been used to justify both infanticide by the father. It is upon Judge's discretion to impose "tazir" punishments. Moreover, if an adult child of a father is murdered by his or her father the same rule applies.

Finally, if a mother kills one child, she has to be punished by death, if the owners of the blood, "valieh" "dam", wish so. Owners of the blood, as you may guess, are the husband or the husband's father, or in the absence of the two the uncle of the child or the uncle of the father of the child.

What language of human rights other than absolutely liberal and secular can restore justice and equality to such a context.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at July 22, 2004 02:46 AM [permalink]:

Thanks Eswin for sharing your thoughts on this.

Occasional visitor,

Here is a forum for people to share their thoughts. I at least can't see how any 'action' is possible through postingin this website. Indeed that is what the title of this website says. So when someone jumps in the middle of a tread and says how " One slice of Ebadi's actions is bigger and more valuable to me than all your thoughts combined." he/she has already started an irrelevant off topic 'discussion'.
I merely exercized an instance of my hypocracy-check, since as far as actions go the two examples I brought forth outweigh the likes of this lady by light years. OK?
I don't know hwo effective writing a couple of books on children rights is in the situation in iRan (my guess: and that is really not the issue here. THE ISSUE is how she has behaved eversince and frankly what she says has been PATHETIC in every possible respect. Eswin's example on the Islamic laws for children is very illuminating. Now when this supposed activists insist on Islamic democracy, what should one infere? WHen a couple of days after being awarded a Nobel prize she gratifies the world by saying how Hijab makes women more powerful, I for one will react the way I did/do.
I have never expected her to attack Islam... given the present condition-though that is what a Nobel-worthy activist must also have been doing- but she can just let this subject fall and concentrate on human rights without any qualifications and do not budge an inch from that position without any specific mention of any religion. When instead she mumbles about Islam or Nuclear activity of the mullahs, she better SHUT THE HELL UP! period.

As for religion and Islam, I have already expressed my points before and have no intention of repeating them to you.
Suffice it to say that the Nazis yiu mentioned were the direct inheritors of more than a millenia of Christian dogmatism. It would be a good exercise for you to check how many of the Nazi leaders actually grew up in religious families, mostly catholic ones.
Also the 20 century with bombs and gas chambers gives a lot of power to psychos like that. Better compare it with the number of people massacred by religions such as Chrsitianity and your beloved Islam for millenia with nothing but swords and axes and then talk about which caused more death and pain to mankind.

occasional visitor at July 22, 2004 03:38 PM [permalink]:
Eswin, I am sure you know very well that the improvement of women or children conditions in a society can neither be proved nor disproved by mentioning one or two instances of first-hand experiences. I have recently done some reading about the structure of families and gender relations in Canada. I assume you are a canadian citizen, so you probably know that even in Canada with such a long histry of feminist and human rights movement, domestic violence and child abuse is still an issue and that's why the feminist movement had not fizzled out yet. Also I just remind you that Ebadi is a simple lawyer. She does not have much legal power and consequently not much political power. I've read people saying that since she has won the Noble prize, now she has enourmous power. I am really curious to see some evidence for that claim. I want to know where that mysterious power come from and how that can be exercized. Also, I am still interested to know about your evaluation of seculars such as Mehrangiz Kaar, because any assessment of people's accomplishments should be comparative to be meaninful. I think I said rather explicitly in the last posting that I do not support the existing political structure in Iran, but also I don't beleive that any revolutionary act could make any fundamanetal improvement in a short time. You simply cannot educate people who have a background of 2500 years of dictatorship in a couple of years and I think even some of our elites tend to downplay this elementary fact. You have probably read Fromm's "escape from freedom" where he describes how and why Germans gave up their rights to the Nazis that lead to the most disasterous genocide of the history. I think many of the Iranians tend to escape from their freedom by asking too much from their representatives (and quite ironically their non-representatives such as Ms.Ebadi!). I for one would not have entered into this conversation if it were a criticim of Khatami's impotence in using his legal power, but criticizing an individual lawyer without any legal resposibility is a bit outragous. P.S. Sohrevardi is one of my famous figures. I know about his attempts to combine the Iranian pre-Islamic heritage with the Islamic ideas in his hekmat-ol-eshraq (which may be the reason you are interested in him!). I know his assasination was based on a fatwa, but I have never read anywhere that he was skin to death. If you know any reliable sourse, I would be more than happy to hear about that. AIS, You don't have to use all of your rhetorical tools in one posting. Instead bring some ideas that you can sell. The fact the Nazi leaders came from religous families proves nothing! Do you really think that anyone would buy a lousy psudo-argument like: "Better compare it with the number of people massacred by religions such as Chrsitianity and your beloved Islam for millenia with nothing but swords and axes and then talk about which caused more death and pain to mankind." ? It is vacuous, meaningless, and scientifically speaking a "noise". Please read this other statement of yours again: "...she can just let this subject fall and concentrate on human rights without any qualifications and do not budge an inch from that position without any specific mention of any religion. When instead she mumbles about Islam or Nuclear activity of the mullahs, she better SHUT THE HELL UP! period." Does the writer of these lines seem to belive in "freedom of speech" in any sense of the word ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Mirror at July 22, 2004 04:39 PM [permalink]:

If you want to have a forum about Mosaddegh, it sounds stupid to me to dig into his speeches. You should first dig into his actions during the oil independence period because he is defined that way. I am sure you can find a lot of defects in his speech if you want to.But It doesn't make him any less-valuable.

If you want to have a forum abut Nietzsche, it has to be about his thoughts of course. Well if we exhausted our posts with his thoughts we can start talking about his girfriends or boyfriends for that matter.

If you want to have a forum about Shirin Ebadi this forum has to be about her actions and her legal cases in the first place. She is defined and got her prize for her actions nasalamati! Posts about her speeches should come after we exhuasted posts about her actions. Well, it's always easier to talk about a talk! So let's choose the more Iranian/easy/tanbali way.

So, here it's not a "freethought" forum to free-think nonsense. But to free-think sense (= capacity for effective application of the powers of the mind as a basis for action or response ).

Eswin at July 22, 2004 05:05 PM [permalink]:


I stand corrected on that Sohrevardi might not have been skinned to death, but there are sources, like the ones that I mentioned that say he was executed. You can look at the works of Henry Corbin.

As per Ebadi's actions and comparison with Kaar's, I believe Ebadi tried to find justifications within the Constitution of the Islamic Republic, while Kaar retained a liberal stance. These two are very different. Ebadi has actively given legitimacy to the regime in ways that Kaar has never done.

As to the Nobel Committee, they do not necessarily decide about these issues on actions or activism in a definitive sense.

Our difference over this issue is simply ideological. Without Islam, Iranians remain Iranians and have many value systems before and without Islam. In fact, as you said, Sohravardi and Iranian Sufis have ensured that the dead body of Islamic teachings is given some spirit by the Iranian traditions pre-Islam. Whether they were aware and proud of that identity is a different debate.

Still, I insist that Iranians have been a very identity aware people otherwise Shahnaameh would not be in place that would say that the first "person" that was created was Keyumars and not Adam! In addition, by person I think you understand what I mean.

The case that I mentioned is not just one! Everyday, children are abducted from their mothers in family disputes by their fathers, because of the Hadith that I told you and if you want me to go ahead and get you more cases, sorry I am not in Iran but if I could confirm your real identity, I would be more than happy to hook you up with some lawyers who are working on these cases in Iran "and they are numerous".

Your comparison with Canada is "substantively", "categorically", and "statistically" false. Children and women are protected in Canada, especially since the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was adopted, than they are in Iran and due to the fact that my second field of study is Canadian Politics, I can tell you "for a fact" that much of the violence against the children in Canada is either amongst aboriginal peoples, which in my view is partly Canadian's fault, as well as "multicultural communities" (I think you can guess who).

Of course, if you would like to compare the whole history of Canada, which starts from 1867 with Iran under Qajars, Pahlavis, the IR, the Canadian state, OK! Be my guest! First, I said let us just focus on Iran because you can point to Pakistan or almost most of India and Africa, please do not deviate.

Your comparison was simply out of place, if not ridiculous.

We can simply, as they say in the West “to agree to disagree”.

Mirror at July 22, 2004 08:34 PM [permalink]:

Eswin, would you tell us what your solution is for our current missery in Iran? Is it another revoloution? or is it a reform plan? Do you see Ebadi's actions in the reform map?

In my view, going to jail as a hot-blooded activist doesn't solve Iran's problems. Revolution neither.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at July 22, 2004 11:50 PM [permalink]:

Occasional Visitor,

Religion is an important factor in Iran, that's why i concentrate on it so much. No people won't be leaving their religion all of a sudden, but that doesn't mean one should not say the truth about the inhumanity at the cor eof Islam for example, just because it won't have immidiate total effect. Your arguments are really more like jokes.
It is also possible that the majority of the educated section of the society that is responsible for culture building for the future to clear its position visa vis Islam, as the same did happen with Chrsitiany in teh West. Not all the people left it all of a sudden. Indeed up to this day the majority of people one way or the other consider themselves Chrsitians, yet Christianity is out of the most influential intellectual sphere of the West as a direct power, although its indirect CULTURAL side is of course always present.

As for 'freedom of speech', you can continue in sophistry as you like and so can she. What I said was MY opinion, I didn't and wouldn't IMPOSE it on anybody, but I can EXPRESS MY view as openly as I like as well. She obviously has the right to speak as she likes and continue to make an utter fool of herself.
Your misreading of my comments only shows your lack of counter arguments and it's really pathetic if you don't mind my saying so.

occasional visitor at July 23, 2004 11:57 AM [permalink]:
Eswin, I can obviously see the difference between Kaar and Ebadi's approaches. Kaar is a self-identified secular and I have no problem with that. I am just interested to see "visible", "tangible", and concrete things she has done. I hope I have clearly expressed myself. So please tell us some if you know. I did not mean to compare the women's situation in Iran and Canada. My point was that even in a socially developed country (say Canada), you can easily find instances of violence against women and children. We need to look at the statistics. Your point about the prevalence of violence among the aborigibals is true and is probably because or their economical conditions. But even among the whites, 1 out of 10 of Canadian women have been severely assalulted by their husbands which is still quite high. I don't want to get to the history of women's right. Empirical date show that 150 years ago, women had much more rights in the Islamic societies compared to the western culture. The right of ownership for women is not that old in the west (it is less than two centuries years old) whereas it was granted by Islam 1400 years ago. To have a better idea of the misogynistic western culture, I refer you the works of famous thinkers like Nietche or Freud to see how they viewed women only a century ago. Another example: Not many women have to work outside in Iran, but the women of the so-called sandwich generation in the west, have to work, take care of their children and the elderly in their family. It can also be supported by lots of statistics but I don't want to get into that here. My point is that there are numerous factors in the game and any comparison should take all of those into account.[Simply put: it is NOT that simple!] You seem to be very interested in the pre-Islamic Iranian culture. I want you to elaborate more on that to assure us that this is not just an empty nostalgia for the good old days as they say! Let's assume for a moment that you are in a position to initiate a cultural movement in Iran. Tell us about the institions you want to start based on our Iranian heritage, materials you want the kids study in school (I hope it is not just Shahnameh as the Westers do not only study Homer!) Also I don't understand your reason for this fear and denial for part of our culture. What is it that creates this intense dislike for your Islamic heritage? Western's present cultures are amalgamations of Hellenistic, Roman, and Islamic cultures that were enriched by lots of Enlightenment ingredients. Have you ever met any Kasravi-typre western advocating the language cleansing by elimination of all of the words with Greek or Latin origin? This is simply rediculous and not practical. Cultures are organic entities and their mutal influences are inevitable. Protecting a culture from the outsiders is sumplistic and useless. I hope you would elaboarte your ideas in more concrete terms. P.S. You wrote "Sohravardi and Iranian Sufis have ensured that the dead body of Islamic teachings is given some spirit by the Iranian traditions pre-Islam" and attributed that to me! I never said such a joke and I hope you just take it back since I don't want to get into Sohrevardi's intentions for writing "hikmat-uk-ishraq" (which is in fact in Arabic!) because it is quite off-topic. AIS: I am sorry. There is not much in your postings that deserves a response. This is going to be my last comment on your ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Ali Mahani at July 24, 2004 08:06 AM [permalink]:

Sit Thomas Lipton: (Or is it “Sir” Thomas Lipton??)

“Most of you love moaning don't you? What do you mean by "So What"?”

Absolutely irrelevant. What has it all got to do with “moaning”, pal? Most people on this forum expressed genuine delight when Ebadi got the prize, largely because they saw it as a snub to the hardline establishment. The “so what” part refers to 1) the dull, patronising phrases she let out in Boston and 2) the real, tangible consequences of her campaign, which have not been so impressive up until now.

“She is the woman of action….she has stood up, done something and received the Nobel…”

Perhaps you’ll be good enough to point out what exactly she’s DONE for children and prisoners of conscience here in Iran, and what real difference she’s made.

Point is, as a Nobel laureate, she’s sort of untouchable at the moment. So instead of churning out those platitudes, she could use her current position to actually criticise (yes, criticise) the regime, take up the defence of a high-profile political prisoner, challenge the unbridled power of the “Leader”, … Of course that could mean prison and exile and persecution, but it’s a price you pay as a true defender of human rights.

Look at Nelson Mandela: 27 years in a South African prison. Anwar Sadat: assassinated for making peace with Israel… These were the real men of “action”- the sort of people who would take the bull by the horns- and they helped change the course of history (for the better, I hope). Not for them the bland, conservative speeches- carefully avoiding sensitive issues or anything that might get them into trouble. Look at Shirin’s recent speech: about 1300 words of utter nonsense, trying desperately- among other things- to reconcile Isalm and democracy- now, isn’t that a joke? Khamenei and associates are not gonna lose much sleep with this type of campaigning.

Does anyone think this kind of talk will get us anywhere in terms of freedom and democracy?

Not deep down. Not in the cold light of day. Not even after many pints and watching the 2003 Nobel Awards ceremony for the umpteenth time. Repression and human rights abuses are rife as ever, more and more people are languishing in the dark, damp cells of Evin and breathing space for art, literature and free thought is shrinking faster and faster.

“Why don't you send her a letter or an e-mail with your suggestions, complaints or your "so what" argument?”

Well for one thing we haven’t got her e-mail, Sir Thomas dear. Besides, we aren’t too sure she’ll bother to answer our letter or even read it: right now she’s way too important for the likes of us. She’s heard enough “suggestions” as to what she should do – from dissidents, fellow professionals, admirers…-both domestic and overseas. Maybe even from Iran’s current leaders: well, who knows? Let’s hope she’ll act upon some of the more radical of these suggestions…

Any more brilliant ideas?

An Iranian Student (AIS) at July 24, 2004 01:50 PM [permalink]:

Ali Mahani,

You said it exactly as it is. Wish I could have been so elequent in my responses. Exactly as it is, very good job.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at July 24, 2004 01:54 PM [permalink]:

damn my typing. I meant 'eloquent' of course.

Ali Mahani at July 24, 2004 11:55 PM [permalink]:


Yeah thanks mate. Where's that Lipton chap, by the way?

JFTDMaster at July 25, 2004 01:32 AM [permalink]:

to occasional visitor, comments on specific phrases that caught my attention:

"Ms. Ebadi was awarded the Noble Peace Prize for what she had done when she was not in the spotlight."
- Others have done the same thing, why was she selected in particular? Perhaps for a) being a leftist b) for not demanding a replacement of the Khomeneist dictatorship, but only calling for reform c) supporting the United Nations.

Everyone knows that the Nobel Peace prize is nothing but a political statement on what is popular among european leftist "intellectuals". Europeans do not want to demand changes from Iran, they in fact make a living off the Khomeneist OIL monopolies (like they did with Saddam), they do not want to do anything considered "hard", and maybe that is why Ebadi got the Nobel prize. How's that for a theory?

"I am sure that Ebadi and many other activists in Iran are not in the same page with the leaders of this government, but they are still trying to get something done. "
- Perhaps the point is that the dictatorship has been year after year taking away people's rights, despite such attempts at reforms, despite sacrifices and protests. Perhaps her assertion that the Khomeneist regime is reformable is what people have an issue with.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at July 25, 2004 05:01 AM [permalink]:

Ali Mahani,

your welcome and I don't know anything about this Tea bag knight!


indeed you are correct. The Nobel Commitee didn't even hide the fact that the main reason for the prize as because she was muslim and they wanted to give it to a muslim and they hoped to revive the by then dead 'reform' movement in Iran. Her 'actions' what ever they are, I'm still waiting for someone to give a detail of them and their effectiveness, were never really an issue and they didn't even bother by covering that up.
ANd after Arafta and Carter being awarded such a prize, nothing else would surprise me in that category!

occasional visitor at July 25, 2004 12:04 PM [permalink]:

Just to reaffirm my previously stated position,
I am all for a democratic political system in Iran and the sooner it emerges, the better.
I am neither appeasing (Eswin's illusion) not fishing for compliments as I don't need any. I simply write what I beleive in.

You wrote:
"they do not want to do anything considered "hard"." I will be glad if you clarify what you mean by "hard". Is it the type of thing that Abdi, Eshkevari, Nouri, Aqaajari and lots of others have done? What came out of those futile "hard" works except that all of them became virtually apolitical and ineffective?
Or maybe you dream of a revolution a la France and all that stuff?

I am sorry, but the main trouble with this types of analyses is that they are based on the assumption that " A is a stupid person" or B does not have the guts to say what she believes in. If you are serious about politics, the point to start is to see what keep Ebadi-type
figures to criticize the government straight out. It does not take much intelligence to see that a serious activist must have sustainable plans. This is the very reason for the failure of so many movements after Mashruteh.

This is just an speculation, but I think that we Iranians, are often overhasty in our responses and our demands. We are not educated to value long-term goals. This is pretty startling when you compare it with the situation in U.S. for instance. Yet another weakness is our political utopianism. Honestly, I don't see the relevance of the what I want to call "paralysing nostalgie for the Pre-Islamic Persia" at this point of history as you can see in some of the previous postings. The problem is that they do not even try to make their view of pre-Islamic era attractice enough to at least justify to some extent what they are advocating for.

Islam has been part of our culture for more than a millenium and there is no way to move it out or get away with it. If you are
a humanist or a secular, you'd better know that Islam is a main term of the equation in the current politics. (Sorry for repeating this truism several times, but some people are just blind to it) That's why you should try to reconcile Islam and democracy or find an interpretation of Islam which is consistent with main principles of Human rights. This is neither an stupid task nor asimple one. (Quite a few big names have thoughts on that)

I think it is absurd to compare Ebadi with Mandela or Sadat. Such cross-cultural compariosn are too superficial and eventually useless. I
prefer to see some comparison betweem Ebadi and
a secular activist like Kaar. I should add that Kaar had similar (and perhaps more) opportunities as Ebadi such as lecturing at Ivey league universities just to name one. I have phrased this question at least two other times on this list and I repeate in again:
What has Ms. Kaar done to improve the conditions for Iranian people? To what extent were they effective?

I urged some of the critis of Ebadi to make a
You wrote:
"they do not want to do anything considered "hard". I am really

JFTDMaster at July 25, 2004 08:57 PM [permalink]:

"If you are serious about politics, the point to start is to see what keep Ebadi-type
figures to criticize the government straight out."
- I'm not saying that empty and ethereal discussions will bring change to the Khomeneists, but I don't think Ebadi will either. Ultimately, to defend or promote what people believe in, they use force (or the threat of). And I don't think Khomeneists will surrender any of their power unless they were threatened with more of a loss of power (for example total destruction of the regime). They are not a democracy, they do not depend on the people of Iran, in fact their priviliged and powerful position depends on oil monopolies, repression of people and lack of "rights". In short, the only thing that can bring "change" is either an internal revolution (or a serious threat of an internal revolution), or external force (or threat of).

"We are not educated to value long-term goals. This is pretty startling when you compare it with the situation in U.S. for instance."
- Are you implying that in the U.S., there is a successful application of long-term goals and policies? That is generally not the case, the Congress which makes most of the decision is a constantly fluctuating group of power, with various and varying interests. The only time this is not so is when a president successfully imposes a doctrine (Munroe doctrine, Bush doctrine, etc). U.S. also has election cycles, which kind of limits long-term planning, unlike colonialist Britain, which successfully managed for centuries to leverage their position to improve their power. anyway, this is too much off topic.

"Islam has been part of our culture for more than a millenium and there is no way to move it out or get away with it."
- There is a difference between being a "part of the culture", which can be a healthy thing for a society, and being a dominating and violent fanatical force. America's model of being a religious society while being tolerant to other religions and giving them legal rights is a successfull model, just like the Persian Empire was successful due to its tolerance.

"I will be glad if you clarify what you mean by "hard". "
- It just seems like in some ways "Europeans" (or at least their leaders) are being corrupt, bureaucratic, state-dependent, as well as incapable of standing up and taking care of themselves. They believe in pacifism, and yet in they believe in an expanding economic empire to enforce peace. Its a different mentality, "soft power" vs "hard power", as well as soft mentality vs hard. They do not wish to pressure Iran by threatening real sanctions and a use of military force, because it would cost them money and nerves and possibly lives: its too hard. The society is becoming narcissistic and infantile, and its not just Europe, its large parts of Canada and the US. Inability to tolerate casualties, inability to appreciate at least some value inherent in tradition and discipline, are all part of the same "soft" mentality. I guess that is more or less what I was thinking.

Ali Mahani at July 26, 2004 01:04 AM [permalink]:

Occasional Visitor:

“it is absurd to compare Ebadi with Mandela or Sadat. Such cross-cultural compariosn are too superficial and eventually useless".

I'm not comparing anyone with anyone, I cited the case of Sadat and Mandela just as examples of what real “Action” could mean.

Peace activists across the globe are supposed to be striving in the same direction: making the world a better place to live in. Now that could take the form of signing a peace agreement, fighting apartheid, or defending political prisoners. Only some people have the guts to go all the way, while others prefer to keep their heads down and avoid personal trouble.

After all, the message on this forum is that human rights are universal, fundamental values- nothing to do with different cultures.

So in case you still don’t see the relevance, I suggest reading Ebadi’s historical and enlightening speech in Boston :)).

Ali Mahani at July 26, 2004 01:06 AM [permalink]:

Sorry, I meant the letter at the top of this page.