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August 02, 2005

Is Ganji Being Played With?
Guest Author: Shahram Kholdi

ganjigame.jpg In one of his latest posts on his weblog and on Iran Scan, Hoder suggests that Ganji has practically become a tool in the hands of the Islamic Republic's hardliner ruling elite. He says they will use him as much as they can to promote their interests. For instance, Hoder cites how Ganji's "timely" release, just before the first round of the presidential election, was in fact a calculated move by the hardliners to let Ganji spread his call for an election boycott through a press conference.

I tried to remain silent about such a short-sighted and unfair analysis. Such simplistic observations on Iranian politics reinforce misconceptions amongst our Western audience about the dynamics of the Iranian politics. I find his undertaking as unfair, superficial, and narrow-minded, and here I offer a response.

Hoder argues that this well-calculated move reinforced public apathy and
eventually led to the victory of hardliners' favourite candidate, Ahmadinejad.
However, the term "reinforcing public apathy" and/or an analysis such as "Ganji's release worked as a catalyst to perpetuate an atmosphere of disenchantment with electoral politics" are definitely absent from Hoder's core argument. In the interest of fairness, I made an effort to read his argument as such. Unfortunately, Hoder's underlying argument staunchly remains the same: the hardliners have been using Ganji to their advantage before and after the election and he remains the sole loser of this game, dead or alive.

First, Hoder cannot prove in any way that Ganji's call for an election boycott was "a cause", if not "a major cause" of the hardliners' victory in the election. Hoder does not establish as to how many of almost thirty million people, who either did not vote or voted for Rafsanjani in the second round, were inspired by Ganji's election boycott call. A second objection that I raise is methodological. Hoder draws a very aggregate picture of the hardliner camp and depicts them as solidly undivided and invariably united. I do not think he or anybody at this point can corroborate their assumptions on the dynamics of decision-making in the Hardliners' camp. I will elaborate further upon this second observation first, and then I will elaborate upon the first objection.

We cannot be sure if Ganji's release was a well-calculated and well-implemented plot at all. Contradictory statements about the terms of Ganji's release, as stated by Ganji and others after his release, show that we do not even know how much agreement existed amongst the political and judicial leaders in the hardliner camp as to the timing of Ganji's release.

This observation reminds us of another core problem with Hoder's argument: How can Hoder conceive the hardliners as a cohesive and united actor in the first place? The hardliners cannot be conceived in highly aggregate terms themselves as they too appear to be divided into different camps. The hardliners favour different courses of action depending on the degree of their orthodoxy. These differences, albeit in degree rather than in kind, when compared with the reformists cannot be trivialized. The fact that the hardliners, before and during the course of this campaign remained divided over their favourite candidate does not necessarily indicate that they were trying to deviate from who their "truly favourite" candidate was. It also indicates that Khamenei, as their chief mentor, was either not able or not willing to bring unity to his political confederates until after the first round. Such a disunity could also mean that the Hardliners disputed the chances of different candidates of their own camp to the point that their different factions chose different courses of action. The militant faction that supported Ahmadinejad, and that was favoured by Ahmadinejad's political and family affiliates in the Guardian Council, won the day. Both possibilities can be true at the same time without contradicting each other.

Hoder's argument, at worst, implies a conspiracy-oriented theory. It shows the hardliners as one united actor that successfully hides its true candidate, Ahmadinejad, to the very end. When one dissects the hardliners camp according to the number of their presidential candidates into various factions, Hoder's core claim on the timely release of Ganji as indicative of one "united" and "undivided" Hardliner camp's calculated strategy, simply falls apart.

Does Hoder also imply that presenting several different candidates by the hardliners is not an indication of their lack of organization, but their well-planned endeavour to ensure Ahmadinejad's victory? By such a double implication, he clearly indicates that he subscribes to a massive right-wing conspiracy long before the presidential election campaign itself. Does Hoder have some insider knowledge that we do not have? Such a confident analysis also implies that Hoder retains some valuable inside knowledge of the hardliner camp that others do not. If he does not retain such insider knowledge, however, his argument is informed by a typically Iranian conspiracy-minded theory attitude.

Several possibilities are more likely. Hardliners' lack of proper planning and disorganization could have caused the so-called timely release of Ganji. As to the introduction of several presidential candidates by the hardliners, the same lack of strategic planning could have caused the introduction of multiple candidates. The second possibility could be that the hardliners' profound disagreement over who should be the next president caused multiple candidates to be introduced. As public apathy was observed in the municipal and parliamentary elections, it is possible that various hardliner faction wanted their favourite leader to be put in the office of the President. Victory could have been taken for granted, and the only question left to be settled was "which" hardliner candidate, as opposed to "whether" any hardliner candidate, would become the President of the Islamic Republic.

How do we know how many of twenty million eligible voters who did not turn up at the polls were influenced by Ganji? Anecdotal reports from major urban centres outside Tehran have constantly alerted observers that even in major urban centres many people were not aware of Ganji's plight and/or his call for boycotting the election. Many people were not aware until couple of weeks ago when his condition deteriorated. Such an information deficit on Ganji's conditions, even in the form of rumours, should be even greater in smaller towns across the country.

Hoder's false causal relationship, that Ganji's call for boycott as used by the hardliners caused the boycott and led to their victory, fundamentally questions the merits of his conclusion, that the hardliners used him to win. Hardliners' complete control over all the major press and media outlets in Iran was enough to ensure their victory in the presidential election.

We cannot verify to what extent the twenty million voters who did not participate in the election were influenced by Ganji, and/or other boycotters inside or outside the country, such as California-based media outlets. Identifying the boycotters as the cause of apathy and refusal of twenty million eligible voters to vote is indeed missing the forest for the trees. Why cannot we just accept that the twenty million Iranians who refused to vote did so, perhaps, because they were frustrated and disappointed by the Reformists' lack of political will in confronting the hardliners? Had they not done that in the previous municipal and parliamentary elections?

In the end, Hoder's argument, intentionally or unintentionally implicates Ganji in an unfair and overstated manner, as a cause of the hardliners' victory in the election. Dynamically, it also falsely identifies the hardliners' camp as aggregately united and cohesive. Furthermore, by this type of argument Hoder appears to attempt to reinforce the role of boycotters of all stripes, from Iranian expatriate organizations to Nouri and Ganji types of reformists, as central in causing the reformists/moderate conservatives' defeat in the mind of Western public opinion. On all counts Hoder is wrong, and the Western public opinion, by virtue of the present article, is hopefully provided with a rather long "au contraire."

Shahram Kholdi is, in his own words, "a history animal and an animal of history." He keeps a regularly updated weblog, S'Can Iranic. You can read more about him here.
An Iranian Student (AIS) at August 3, 2005 06:03 AM [permalink]:

A very well reasoned post, and a rational one in contrast to the jibberish to which it is meant as partly a response.
But seriously, Mr. Kholdi, I wonder if a joke like Hossein Derakshan would need any time to be wasted to be refuted. IMO, he and his like are simpley not worth it. You knwo what "silence" is according to ou r proverbs, I'm sure. ;)

(Then again, maybe Westerners as you say are still under the illusion that Hoder and his usual nonsense should be taken seriously. I actually find it hard to convcieve howthey could be so blind, but I have seen many surprising stuff before. If this is the case, you've got a point here.)

Shahram Kholdi at August 3, 2005 08:42 AM [permalink]:


Not until a recent trip to the US for research did I become aware how much Iranian webloggers, and particularly Hoder are paid attention to, read, or discussed by Western Journalists and academia.

Hoder receives a good deal of attention amongst many US/UK journalist/academic circles with a focus on Iran, and sometimes he is cited accordingly. What you call jibberish is not regarded as such by a good number of these people. Hoder's comments are often taken as authoritative. It is often thought that Hoder writes such commentary with an insider knowledge of the politics of the Islamic Republic.

If Hoder had not published his comments on Iran Scan about Ganji so unfairly, I would not have bothered to respond. But when I realized that he is trying to reach a more global audience, I thought someone has to repond for the sake of the record. I am thankful that FToI editorial agreed that it is published.

hajir at August 3, 2005 06:33 PM [permalink]:

Why is my comment removed? Is speaking against Khamenei against the 'free' thoughts on iran's editors' policy? I feel sorry for you guys, you are not any better than your elders in Iran.

FToI Editorial Board at August 3, 2005 06:42 PM [permalink]:

Dear hajir,

No comments have been removed from this thread. Please make sure that your comment was properly posted. We have a spam-detector in place that may perform less than desired some times, though this has happened only once. If the problem persists please email us at free at freethoughts dot org, and we'll do our best to address your difficulty.

hanieh at August 3, 2005 08:56 PM [permalink]:

My main problem with Hoder's argument is that he poses Ganji as a player of the game, and at the same time the ball being thrown around between other players, of the same game. I hope I can explain this contradiction.

Hoder mentions that both the neo-cons and Khamenei are using Ganji for their own cause. For the sake of argument, let's assume this is true. Then we have a manipulative game in which Ganji is the ball being thrown around. Furthermore, neither his deteriorating health condition, nor his courage to stand for justice are characteristics of a player of a manipulative political game. Rather, his health and his courage are being abused by the real players (assuming there is even a game!). So to say that Ganji "has started a game in which.... the biggest loser would be himself" not only seems logically unsound to me, but also unfair to the cause Ganji is literally dying for.

Rancher at August 3, 2005 08:57 PM [permalink]:

Shahram Kholdi

All of the comments blast this idiot. And I for one done consider him an authority any more than Juan Cole or Michael Moore. Probably only the LLL do. Oh, wait, that is who most journalists and academia are.

Shahram Kholdi at August 4, 2005 12:09 AM [permalink]:

Dear AIS et al:

I would like to cite the following two links from the Guardian both authored by Hoder (aka Hossein Derakhshan. These articles show that my concern about the necessity of a response, every now and again, to certain unruly analyses that are made by our Iranian world-renowned weblog activists:

Both from the Guardian Newspaper on Wednesday 3 August 2005:

No Che

No Mao

yaser k at August 4, 2005 11:45 AM [permalink]:

I tend to agree more with hoder. I have no doubt that if Gangi was supporting Moeen, he would have never been released a week before the election. It was clear that anyone from boycott camp who decided to vote at the last minure, eventually voted for Moeen. Therefore, keeping those to boycott was the wise thing for conservative to do and they tried their best. I don't suggest any number or saying that ? milions didn't vote because of Ganji's call and that's actually not the fair question. But you can't simply say that Ganii had no effect. Ofcourse there are many other facors and no one says that reformists's lost is totally because of Ganji.

Shahram, you seem to looking for mathemical proof for whatever Hoder has said. Ofcourse there is not such a thing.

Babak S at August 4, 2005 01:07 PM [permalink]:

I was very upset to see Hoder's writings on Ganji. Not because he is so stubbornly against Ganji's approach or even that his analysis is flawed, but because an old disease of thought is spreading along with his analysis, the desease of conspiracy theory. One of the major breakthroughs in the reformists' thinking in the early 90's was that they parted with the commonplace Islamic Republic conspiracy theory attitude. That was also one of the reasons they were successful in gaining back the power partially (and known now only formally) in 1997. Hoder has gone way back in the conspiracy theory thinking by his series of writings on Ganji's hunger strike.

Of course, such conspiracy theories are invariably disappointing in their aim and their results. Hoder aims his bitterness at Ganji (he has written quite extensively in Persian about him) while glorifying the real evil in the house with such attributes as "clever", "honest", "benevolent", etc. The result of his analysis is even more disappointing: instead of concentrating efforts to get Ganji out, which could be a real victory given the high profile of his case, Hoder's "journalism" is having the opposite effect.

Come to thing of it, would I be justified to think that Hoder is responsible for Ganji's impending death then? (The correct answer is "no"!)


There is a lot wrong about the theory that Ganji was (partly even) given the short leave before the election because the conservatives wanted to give his call for boycott a louder voice. Can you answer these question, for instance: Would he be released without going on his first hunger strike? Why was he rearrested then? What would happen if he wasn't given the leave before the election and he remained on hunger strike?

In my understanding, the conservatives were really forced to give him the leave then because of the delicate environment before any elections in Iran. They were fearing an electoral crisis that would undermine their organized rigging. For instance, if Moeen had dropped out of the race because of Ganji, unlikely as it sounds now with the benefit of the hindsight, their current claim about the democratic nature of the election would be much harder to defend and accept than it is now.

Shahram Kholdi at August 4, 2005 04:28 PM [permalink]:

Yasser Jaan,

First of all, we who read your weblog know that you are against what Ganji is doing and your objection is certainly coming from your disappointment with the defeat of Mr. Moin. You guys have been looking for, and I should say desperately so, someone or something to lay the blame of the reformists' defeat on, and I do not know why you cannot get over it.

Stop this campaign of attempting to discredit those who are literally dying for Iran, please!

I am grateful that Babak has posed such serious and intelligent questions, and I had them on my list, but lack of good writing skills in English prevented me from developing a more cohesive and exhaustive piece.

Besides, now we here people say that in no country a hundred percent of the people participate in elections. OK, would you agree if at least half of those who did not participate in the election would have participated, Dr. Moin would not have necessarily made it to the second round because of a possible split vote between Karoubi and Rafsanjani?

Why should the complexity of the factors that determined the eventual outcome of the election, and allowed for a massive rigging in the election, make you guys think that the reformist movement bankruptcy and failure in reorganization and rejuvenating itself way before the election was a major cause of the democratic deficit that partly led to the election of Ahmadinejad?

To be continued...

yaser k at August 4, 2005 04:56 PM [permalink]:

Answer to your questions: You may be right that Ganji may not be realeased solely because he was boycutt supporter. But I think the this motivated conservative to release him. They arrested him again because they didn't expect him to critisize khamenei that much publicly. What would happen if he remained on hunger strike? In a week to election, I would say nothing. They could have banned any visit and no one would realize anything. Don't forget he was on hunger strike a week before second round. What heppened then?

Shahram, as I much as I shouldn't blame everything on Akbar Ganji, you can't blame everything on reformists. At the end, both of us are the losers. I have said it many times and I repeat that the coming of Ahmadinejad is partly because of the buycott camp, partly because of the reformists.

Last point, not every opinion which says that your enemey has a well-thought plan for what it does is necessarily conspiracy theory!

Babak S at August 4, 2005 06:16 PM [permalink]:


Why did a good chunk of the reformist activists themsleves opt for a boycott? Why did the student bodies call for a boycott? Is that to blame on their spontaneity or the poor performance of the reformist camp, both in Tehran city council (where they fell in for faction fights) and the sixth Majlis. The fact of the matter is that the head of the reform camp was so lagging behind that their own activists, who were the major connector to the people, became hoepless. Hoder himself took back his vote to Khatami in a dramatic post on his Persian blog. Moeen advocates, well exemplified by Hoder himself, failed to show what would prevent them from doing the same after voting for Moeen. The fact of the matter is that the boycotting side of the reformists (who would have voted for Moeen) was also created by Khatami's government.

Your closing line raises an important question about how and when to deal with real conspiracies. The solution is already there. Real conspiracies like any other phenomena are revealed by a logical analysis of evidence based on a sound theory. In fact, even in science the word "conspire" is used more often than not in descibing certain suprising phenomena. Hoder's approach, however, is pure speculation based on a conspiracy theory. A fair reading of his several posts in Persian shows the truth of this statement.

hajir at August 5, 2005 08:17 AM [permalink]:

I don't see why Ganji had to be released to send the message of boycott to iranian people! It's not like he couldn't talk from prison. I think the connection between his release and him boycotting the election is not logical.

I strongly agree with Babak that his release was a pre-election show, something of the type of showing good movies during the election season to fool people and bring them to voting stations. In fact they arrested him afterwards because he boycott the election!

yaser k at August 5, 2005 12:14 PM [permalink]:

Would they release Ganji if he was supporting Moeen? My answer is "definitely no".

An Iranian Student (AIS) at August 5, 2005 02:13 PM [permalink]:

Dear Shahram (if i amy call you so),

I see your point. Thanks a lot for preparing an English response to Hoder's diatribes.
One thing that we should relate to his stances is the fact that he visited Iran and returned completely unharmed, he wasn't even detained. And all of this despite soem of the harshedt things written in his blog before against the hardliners. I wonder how this is possible? He has connection naturally, especially regarding his father who is close to the regime, and his current articles and posts could very well be serving a purpose.
Anyway, i think everyone , especially those who know him personally, must react accordingly and change their attitude towards him until he publishes meaningful stuff. he is useful I think , so must be guided with rewards and no-rewards, you know like cookies and electric shocks used for laboratory rats etc. He could be useful if we can manage to treat him tactfully.

Babak and Hajir,
I totaly agree with you guys.

As whther he would have been re;eased if he called for a vote in favor of Moeen , yes I'm sure he would have been. the system's main MAIN goa before the elections was to increase participation. yaser, if Moeen was such a risk and threat, why was he reappointed by Khamenei fater being barred?!

yaser k at August 5, 2005 02:40 PM [permalink]:

Saying that hoder is one of them because he wasn't arrested in Iran is conspiracy theory:-)

Babak S at August 5, 2005 05:38 PM [permalink]:


As I said we must present a sound theory when going to uncover a seemingly hidden agenda behind a move. Although you did not explicitly give your theory for your claim that Ganji would not have been released, had he supported Moeen (and so had he not supported a boycott), I can see it to be resting on the following two statements:

1. Hardliners were trying to lower the particiaption and so would use the call for boycott to this end.

2. They were very affraid Moeen would win the race.

In my opinion, a theory based on these two statements is inadequate, and even false.

First, hardliners' strategy seems to me to have remained the same in the past few elections. Ganji had called for a boycott long before these elections in his first installment of the Manifesto of Republicanism. So why did we not see him get released before the previous elections, especially the 7th Majlis? He was far less vocal in his criticism of Khamenei then and so it would have been a far less risky move.

Second, as AIS pinted out, if they were so afraid of Moeen why did they let him run in the first place? The worse that could have happened was something like what happened in the 7th Majlis elections, when a group of disqualified candidates and MPs staged a sit-in. The society was completely indifferent, and despite their riggings the participation was at a record low.

These and similar questions are answered by a more realistic, in my opinion, theory: the hardliners' strategy as coordianted by Khamenei's circle was to stage a successful election (show) with a good turnout as smoothly as possible. This would, as Khamenei explicitly spelled out, divert the mounting international pressure in the critical times they find themselves in. Releasing Ganji was in the same direction especially because he had started a protest move that could badly hurt the before-election happy and relaxed illusion. They rearrested him because his words were deemed more harmful than his stageshow release. They allowed Moeen to run to attract more people to the polls.

Of course, they were all along pursuing their own group interests too and the dynamics were a lot more complex than I (or anyone) can explain or account for in a two-line theory. But I think this is enough to show that your claim as to why Ganji was released is not based on a sound theory.

Babak S at August 5, 2005 05:45 PM [permalink]:


Like I said, and Yaser is correctly highlighting, Hoder's rather trouble-free trip to Iran before the election cannot by itself be grounds for thinking he is acting as an agent of the system. What's your theory?

Hoder's writing is very contradictory and usually intellectually poor. I for one think of him as a good populizer of internet journalism with good suggestions and a lot of energy, but a rather bad journalist himself.

Shahram Kholdi at August 5, 2005 05:50 PM [permalink]:
Yaser jaan, First, I am blaming the reformists for every wrong move that they made, and they do not want to accept them as their mistakes. This is so especially when they failed to broaden their message so that it becomes in line with the legitimate, albeit "republicanist", concerns of people like Nouri and Ganji (who are definitely much closer to the reformists than Californian boycotters!). Second, your reaction is very interesting. Do you realize the more one wants to analyse the way you guys are trying to depict the whole issue, the more vicious and meaningless it becomes? Let me offer you a different picture. The way some of you guys, including Hoder, and I would say some "Ganji-blamers", understand this situation is like this: Proposition a-1: We do not "necessarily" believe that our rivals conspired against us, but, Proposition a-2: However: We are certain that they plotted an extremely well-organized plan, that they were united (it does not matter that we were not, and we do not care that we were not), and that they had already used the same game in the municipal and parliamentary elections (and we do not care that we did not learn from either one and that we remained the same equivocal, divided coaltion about we preached upon most, i.e. reform, and stood for least, i.e. reform). Conclusion A: Our rivals defeated us because they planned so well. They had done it before, as they did this time. The format of their plan was more deliberate this time (we are not responsible for the fact that we did not have any cohesive, if any, plans at all.) Proposition b-1: Our rivals received a great deal of assistance from those who did not join us and encouraged others not to join us. Those who did not join us undermined us most, and it does not matter we never planned as to how we have to deal with this problem that we had wittnessed in the municipal and parliamentary elections as well. Proposition b-2: Our rivals planned to use b-1 situation to their advantage and those who refused to join us, by virtue of sticking to their principles became the toys of our rivals' game. We are not responsible for the fact that there are certain people whose principles reject playing "increasinly" unfair games. However, We are confident that those who were in favour of boycotting the whole game were mainly responsible (it does not matter that they always were in favour boycotting this game as was exhibited in the municipal and parliamentary elections games before this). Why? because even by not participating in the unfair game, they still became the instrument of our rivals' victory. This is another evidence that our rivals planned well. Conclusion B: Whether those who did not join us wanted or not they were the toys of our rival's game against us, and played into their hands. Putting Conclusion A and B togehter, we get Conclusion C: If we sucked in planning (which we never outspokenly admit), it does not matter. It did not really matter that we did not plan well, in that the boycotters were so negative that we could not regain their confidence, so everybody played into the hands of our rivals against us, and we who did play in this game against our rivals never played into their hands at all. We were defeated as a result of this complex situation, and we are the victims, and Iranians will have to come back on their knees to us to get us back in power in four years (this last sentence is my own exaggeration and is meant to make you laugh ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Shahram Kholdi at August 5, 2005 05:53 PM [permalink]:


I am sorry, it seems you posted your comments when I was trying to get togehther some ohter people's pseudo-analyses. Anyhow, I simply second Babak's last comments right before mine.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at August 6, 2005 03:30 AM [permalink]:

No, what I am saying is not a conspiracy theory. before I get there, let me first clear what it is that I am sayng. I never said Hoder was an agent, that he has been hired, is paid, has a specific plan of action etc. Had I made such claims, then it would have been a conspiracy theory.

What I am saying is that his going to Iran and coming back unharmed is not explained with the theory that Hoder is just a blogger with no connections to some factiosn of the regime.

If you claim this then you should explain how he managed to do that although he had stated his intention of going to Iran in his blog beforehand and kept posting in his blog while in Iran (in english, but so what?), and while he was there one persian newspaper published the news as well. That he participated in demonstrations where information agents are always present. That his name was publically distributed as those particpating in Moeen's campaigns. And all of this while many other bloggers, who had said much less "dangerous" stuff had been arrested, tortured etc. Now how is this possible? :)

That's all I have stated.

A conspiracy theory has certain characteristics that differentiates it:
First of all it always explans all the corresponding events in terms of hidden motives and agendas, while better , simpler and more reasonable explanations of the facts are available.
the most important element that is neglected in genuine conspiracy theories are the resources needed for teh conspiracy, which wopuld be really immense and such that even if they were present, with such resources much more effective and efficient methods and actiosn could have been undertaken instead of a spooky conspiracy! (Which is not true in this case as far as I know) An important sign of a conspiracy theory is its lack of ability to explain how many people are all into this conspiracy without it leaking out, ie it goes against human nature and its multi-factedness.

Second, it is irrefutable. In otherwords, whatever you say, it explains it away withthe same notion of conspiracy. Its critiques are either part of the conspiracy or ignorants. Instead of focusing on the facts and the consistency of possible explanations and their respective strengths, it focuses on the people.

Again here if you or anyone else can present a better explanation, of course I will consider my suspiscion as refuted and abandon it.
In the mean time, it makes prefect sense for many governmental refomrists to be concrend about the situation of Ganji, as is clearfrom their shameful attitude in this case. It is not that hard to fathom that Hoder was given a free hand to visit Iran because what he was doing was beneficial to bringing peope to the voting booths. It is still not unthinkable that while in Iran he could have been "advised" to reconsider some of his previous stances and make up for them in the future so that other such opportunities of trips would be available in the future.

In addition to all this, it is a fact and no theory that his father has ties to political religious factions in Iran close to the regime, for example he went to a school where the children of the highest officials of the Islamic Republic went to, especially those connected to Hojattieh. So I don't see why you call the questions I asked and issues I raised (I didn't really present a theory in my last comment now, did I?) as a conspiracy theory?

So ,I'll waiting for a better explanation of the points I made here.

Shahram Kholdi at August 7, 2005 12:00 PM [permalink]:

Dear AIS:

In all fairness, as far as I recall, Hoder has been candid about his background, rather sporadically, on his weblog.

However, the way he offers "his" analysis begs to provide more circumstantial or otherwise evidence. That is why in my post I have explicitly asked what his evidence is, and whether he has some insider knowledge of the inner workings of the hardliner camp.

It is puzzling that while world-class newspapers such as Guardian give Hoder such promotions, his Internet journalism is at the level of penny-papers (this is the British term for tabloid).

There is also an ethical aspect to any journalism, good or bad, and with respect to the question of Ganji and Hoder's game theory, Hoder is slipping way far from that standard by his often cheap shots.

It also reminds me of his analogy of Khamenei and Reza Shah a long time ago. Thank goodness, it was published on his weblog and nowhere else. I am sure Reza Shah has been spinning in his grave ever since Hoder made that analogy.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at August 14, 2005 08:07 PM [permalink]:

Dear Shahram,

whether or not he was honest about his family background (I guess you refer among other things to an interview he gve to Behnoud), is really irrelevant here. the fact remains, he traveled to Iran and came back without any difficulty despite his usual diatribes. As if to add to the whole affair is his stupid reatrded stage play of "keeping it secret" for those who live abroad, like only writing in English in his blogs and blaming those who wrote about his trip to Iran in their weblogs, while at the same time he joins in demonstrations, his name is officially published in teh Moeen team that announced they were gathering in teh central sqaures of Tehran to talk to people and convince them to vote for Rafsanjani...I mean come on!
These need to be explained.
Do you have one?
Afetr what you wrote about his reputation in some westen media, his recent behavior especially relative to Ganji is inexcusable. He could and should have been a major force of bringing world attention to Ganji's cause. Not only is he deliberately not doing this, but is working agaisnt Ganji with his idiotic remarks.
Anyway, as I said before I think those who know him personally should begin calibrating their attitude and relations towards him with the percentage of sense and decency of his writings. Cheese and electric shocks. He needs this, desperately.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at August 30, 2005 05:01 PM [permalink]:

They are drwoning our historical heritage. The tomb of Cyrus the great will go under water when the new dam is ready for use next year. Of course they are doing that in purpose. Congratulations for those who wanted us to forget our history and concentrate solely on where we have come to be today.
The construction of this dam, knowing exactly what it will cause was started in Rafsanjani's time and went on without even a hint of disagreement all through that whore Khatami's time.
I just wanted to take this time and congratulate again the Khatami, mosharekat and rafsanjani pimps among us, who were very excited and concerned during this last "elections", for their mental abilities and great achievments of their anti-fascistic heroes, and their extreme concern nowadays that they show so vehemntly.
god bless you all, you rae the jewles of creation.
Just never forget to be as shameless as you are today, it becomes you all very much. [spit]

reader at October 3, 2005 10:21 PM [permalink]:

Who killed this blog?

Irani at October 24, 2005 06:30 AM [permalink]:

Maybe Ahmadinejad. He is "teer khalas zan".

I suggest we all concede that the only way forward is to seek democratic regime change in Iran.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at October 29, 2005 04:12 AM [permalink]:


you are saying blasphemy, according to the religion of whores and pimps of the regime, supporters of Khatami and his pathetic "reform" masked fascism, or waging campaigns to win votes for Rafsanjani (the one they now call what ever they do they are pathetic!)
This is the very same Rasanjani (oops I meant Hashemi) who also stated in Friday prayers while he was officially in charge about thrwoing an A-bomb over Israel and finish it. Back then it was no scandel, Rafsanjani was not an imbecile etc. etc.
No matter how much you try to give them the benefit of a doubt,these reformist vermins prove themselves yet again the most disgusting and pathetic foulplayers and enemies of our people.

I think this idiot Ahmadinejad is doing a great job now showing the true nature of this filth, and what he is doing was necessary after those two pimps befire him tried to cover up the mess in front of world powers. For this alone I am thankful of him. May he continue in this till all the rottenness that is this regime, ideology and religion come under the light of the sun and be dried up and burned out, before it is too late.

Good luck Mr. President!

ali at November 6, 2005 11:35 AM [permalink]:

I thought this article made a brilliant reference the significance of Ganji:

Shahram at November 6, 2005 06:00 PM [permalink]:

In what respect are you suggesting the article by Nasrin Alavi proves the significance of Ganji vis-a-vis my critique of Hoder's analysis?

Alavi says nothing, nor does she imply anything, on a causal relationship between Ahmadinejad's election and Ganji's call for boycott.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at January 28, 2006 12:38 AM [permalink]:

See . I told you he could be useful.

Phen at October 13, 2006 03:37 PM [permalink]:

nice site!