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May 08, 2006

Stumbling, rather than walking, on a flat world
Hazhir Rahmandad  [info|posts]

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For over 4.5 years I avoided dealing with visa hassles and stayed in the United States while working on my Ph.D.. This year I was on academic job market, which required me to travel to different countries for interviews. My visa stories are neither dramatic, nor uncommon, yet a good example of puzzles we have to solve given our Iranian passports. Test yourself and see if you can follow the puzzles till the end!

Early in the winter I received an invitation for a job talk in Australia. Followed by an invitation from university of Toronto in Canada, I decided to plan both these trips after my interviews inside the U.S. so that I can go out of the U.S. only once and without risking to miss an interview inside the country. I started to plan the trips about 7 weeks in advance. It sounded simple: I needed to get the Australian visa, the Canadian visa, and the U.S. visa once I go to Canada. The plan was to travel to Canada and have my interview, apply for my U.S. visa there, go to Australia and have my talk, come back to the Canada and receive my U.S. visa which hopefully is ready by then, and come back into the U.S.

The first challenge surfaced when I noticed that the Australian visa takes 4 weeks for citizens of certain countries (and that term always applies to Iran, no matter the regulations of which country you are looking at) and the Canadian visa takes over 3 weeks, and if I post my passport to these consulates, it would be infeasible to do the whole process in 7 weeks or so that I had until the time for the trips. To solve this problem, I decided to fly to Washington D.C., apply in person in one consulate, take my passport to the second consulate and have them post it back to the first one after they had issued my visa. Then the first consulate will post it to me after they issued their visa. This plan sounded perfect in that it overlapped some of the waiting times and allowed me to get both visas in 6 weeks or so given the planning and posting delays. I therefore bought my tickets to fly to D.C. and decided to also reserve my flights to Canada and Australia before prices go up.

Then another challenge surfaced: there was no direct flights from Canada to Australia. Most flights would pass through the United States, but that requires a U.S. visa, which I wouldn't have at the time of travel to Australia. Other routes through Europe or Asia also needed some further transit visa which would have required another couple of weeks of posting and waiting… the problem started to look without any feasible solution space… and after a week of thinking about different options, I finally decided to forego the Australian job opportunity. I therefore cancelled my DC trip and instead took a bus to New York and applied for my Canadian visa there.

A week or so later, I noticed that I should get an appointment from the U.S. consulate in Canada, preferably in Toronto, so that I apply for my visa as soon as I get there. To do so you need to wake up at 7am and go to a website to reserve an appointment when open spots are released into the system and before they are all booked. However, the new challenge was that for the most relevant consulate for me (Toronto) they already had released all the spots in the days I was planning to go there. I went back there for several days early in the morning hoping that somebody will cancel their appointment that I can get… but that was an unrealistic expectation. A week later I ended up being left with the only option of getting an appointment in Calgary, four hours of flight and hundreds of dollars further from Toronto, which I did. Now finally I had everything planned: I would go to Toronto and have my interviews, fly to Calgary and apply for my visa, come back to Toronto and hopefully the visa will be ready in about 10 days and they will post it to me so that I don't need another trip to Calgary and I can get to another job talk at Amherst which was later planned for after my arrival.

The trip to Calgary was smooth, and even though the consulate didn't accept to keep my passport and asked me to send it to them once they were done with my background checking, a good friend there graciously accepted to take it to them so that I avoid any further posting delays. I left the passport with him with a pre-paid Canada post courier envelope, guaranteed for next day delivery.

Ten days later in Toronto I was starting to get anxious: the officer in consulate had mentioned that the background check is usually ready in two weeks, but I hadn't yet received mine and I was running out of time to catch the Amherst interview. So I had to push back the interview to early next week (I couldn't have that interview too late because I needed to make my final decision on which place to go in two weeks following an offer from Virginia Tech).

By the end of the second week I contacted U.S. consulate through fax (they don't have phone inquiries) and they called me and said the background check is not yet ready, but I can call state department and find out. So I called the state department and they said it is already sent to Calgary. I faxed consulate again but they had no news and said they will call me when the background check is back. It was already end of the week and given the posting delay, I had to change the interview time once more. This is not trivial since a job talk includes several interviews with different faculty members and a formal talk. Fortunately the Amherst folks graciously accommodated the re-schedule for the next Thursday.

Finally, on Monday the 10th of April at 1:20 pm (11:20am Calgary time) a consulate official called me with the good news that my background check has been successfully conducted and the visa can be picked up. In response to the question if my friend can come over right away, they said they close in 10 minutes for today, so there is no hope until tomorrow morning. I was finally happy and confirmed the plans for getting the visa posted on Tuesday, receiving it on Wednesday and driving to Amherst right away, with my girldfriend who has been delaying her return waiting for my visa. The next day my friend confirmed that he has delivered my passport to the embassy and the official has ensured him that the visa and passport will be mailed to me with the provided courier mail envelope the same day. He also supplied me with the tracking number.

Next morning we packed and waited for the package to arrive, though anxious that the tracking number hadn't showed up online… mistakenly attributing that to delays in updating of Canadian postal system. At noon I decided to follow up with the consulate, after all the postal service had guaranteed a delivery by noon. I sent the fax to the consulate and started to think about the contingency plans. I felt embarrassed to contact the Amherst school once more; besides, I was getting close to deadline for replying to my Virginia Tech's job offer. I finally contacted the Amherst folks and let them know about the challenge. We decided to wait for another hour or two and, in the absence of positive news, reschedule for next week; meanwhile I asked for an extension of response-time from the Virginia tech.

We heard nothing and so rescheduled the talk for next Wednesday, given the other constraints on the school side. At 3pm I finally received a call from the consulate: the officer said the visa has not yet been processed, and it wouldn't be sent until tomorrow. It was like a surprise bucket of cold water on my head… I should delay my trip for another two days… or so I thought.

My girlfriend informed me of Friday and next Monday being Canadian holidays, leaving me with the possibility that the passport is not delivered until next Tuesday! Contacts with Canada post confirmed this suspicion: if the package is sent on Thursday, it wouldn't arrive until next Tuesday. The other sad part of story was that my girlfriend could no more afford to be away from her job and had to return by the end of the week, therefore she now had to drive back alone and I had to buy return flight ticket.

Finally, on Tuesday morning, the passport arrived. I bought my ticket right away, and went to the airport 2 hours before the flight, after all, Iranians have to go through special registration before entering the U.S.. The line for special registration had a 40 minute waiting time, and the officer took 1 complete hour to do my special registration, i.e. enter 10-15 items of information into the system… I was jumping up and down anxiously as every additional second increased the chances of missing my flight. At the end, the probability converged to one and I missed my flight. Fortunately a late night flight took me back to U.S. and after an hour of drive I made it to the hotel for my next morning job talk and interviews.

This is more or less the end of my visa story. As I said, it was not so dramatic: I was back into the U.S. in a month, compared to my friend Ali who got stuck for 13 month, once he left the country to get married. Neither I lost a big job opportunity: I happily accepted the Virginia Tech offer and I am looking forward to the new position. Yet the stress, and at times the humiliation, were unpleasant.

Comments
Mohammad at May 9, 2006 05:32 PM [permalink]:

Hazhir jaan,

I completely understand the feeling of "stress and humiliation" you're talking about. I think all of us Iranian students in the US have been in similar situations.

But anyway, congrats for your new job! Where is Virginia Tech located? When will you move there?

Sadaf at May 10, 2006 12:22 AM [permalink]:

Hi Dear hazhir, I have met you during couple of lecture series at mit and harvard university, and I once tried to publish an article via your organization. I think the last time that I saw you was when I had come to Harvard for Dr. Milani's lecture with my husband. I was going through the free thoughts tonight and your article caught my attention. I think it is very shameful for a grandiose country such as US to repel talented scholars like you by these meaningless hassles. I think it is just stupid. I understand how humilitating and bothering it is to get stuck through all this especially when you had been here before and had studied and lived in the US. the last time that I had been outside the US myself was 3 years ago, when I was coming from Switzerland back to US. I remember the security guy, really looked very suspiciously on my documents at the Swiss airport and was intimated that my green card's photo picture which had been taken 8 years prior to my trip to Switzerland didn't look like my 17 year old person that was standing before him at that moment . he asked me many stupid questions and finally let me on board, but when I came back to US, the American guy that was standing behind the desk, took my documents, glimpsed at it, and just said, WELCOME back Sadaf. now, that I am seeing that another fellow of my home country had been troubled by what really upset me three years ago, all I would like to say to you is that Welcome back to US Hazhir, I hope you and girlfriend have a wonderful time at Virginia Tech or wherever is the best choice for your academic endeavors. I just shared a small memory of mine to cheer you up and I hope you forget this unpleasant experience soon, have a good night. Sadaf

Hamid at May 10, 2006 08:01 AM [permalink]:

Why should we always have this stupid nightmare of visas? Is nt a true sample of Discrimination. I do envy Europeans, Canadians, Americans for being so free to travel anywhere they wish. Why should we pay the price of what our government does?

Aydin at May 10, 2006 05:27 PM [permalink]:

Just a note for all potential Iranian travellers to the republic of Ireland.

We are on their SPECIAL list as well. My Indian colleague got his visa in a week. Mine will take 3 months, as it has to be cleared with the JUSTICE DEPARTMENT in Dublin. I will probably miss the conference I was aiming to attend.

I live in the UK. There is a treaty similar to that between schengen countries between Ireland and UK. That is, there is no border passport control, but as an Iranian I guess it is similar to going from the US to Canada and back relying on there being no border checks.

At the risk of being controversial I should mention that I understand the measures countries take against us and agree with them to a certain extent. After all they have all stayed in their own country and have put up with all difficulties such as the World Wars (In case of Europe) to rebuild everything. We on the other hand simply fled to where the grass was greener.

Arash Jalali at May 11, 2006 04:01 PM [permalink]:

With all due respect to you and other fellow Iranians (and possibly other fellow human beings from other countries) that are having a hard time with the American security and immigration laws, I personally see no justification for complaining. Not that I think you deserved to be treated that way but I suppose you should understand the implications of the choices you have made. You chose to go to the US, you chose to study there, and then you chose (despite all other possible chances you had in other countries like Canada or Australia) to work in the US. This is a whole package, and you and I are not in a position to criticize the contents of that package or be selective about it because it's simply not OUR package. We are free to take it or leave it. You can complain about the fact that your own country cannot or will not provide a suitable working and living environment to encourage you to come back. You can complain about the situation in Iran, where a scholar like Ramin Jahanbegloo is arrested and jailed with no reason. How they treat you and I in America, Canada, Ireland, or any country other than Iran, might, just "might" be morally wrong, but just that. It's their legal right to do what THEY perceive as necessary to ensure their security, and it's our personal choice to see if living there is worth taking the abuse.


hazhir at May 11, 2006 04:47 PM [permalink]:

Arash jaan, your argument is strange to me. You say I have no right to complain because I have chosen to leave in the U.S. and that comes with all the baggage. This is even more erroneous than saying our parents have no right to try to change Iran's situation today because they decided to do a revolution and that comes with all the baggage which they should accept!
I am currently a member of American society, I pay taxes here and contribute to its scientific and economic development, and as such, I have both the right, and the obligation to be concerned about what is happening in my adopted homeland.
My concern with this country does not negate my due share of responsibility about Iran, which I try to pay in it own place, yet the latter does not rob me of my rights in this country.
Beyond the logic of rights and responsibilities, there is a much more pragmatic reason why people like me should write about their positive and negative experiences with their life in U.S. or Irland or Canada. Who would be able to fix problematic policies if those most affected don't even talk about it? The security measures that hassle people like me are not keeping America safer (just look at the stats of how many potential terrorists have been arrested through these channels) and erode a lot of values this country is based on.
Continuation of democracy in this country has depended on active engagements of the stream of immigrants who constitute its population. If I follow the Iranian norm of silently following the powers and accepting unjust treatment, I will both lose my rights and erode American democracy.

JP at May 12, 2006 12:32 AM [permalink]:

I applaud Hazhir for candidly sharing with us the story of his trips. I agree with him on the importance of speaking out, but this, though necessary, may be far from sufficient. This question's been on my mind for some time now: Would it be possible to get a statistics of Iranians who were or were not given the visa to come BACK to the US once they left? Or at least Iranian students, or Iranian scholars, or any other specific section of Iranians?

If a large enough sample of Iranian students who left the US in the middle of their studies in the hope of coming back fill out a very short questionnaire (name and email address [only for the purposes of bookkeeping; not to be publicized by the surveyors], type of visa, date they left, approx. date they had planned to re-enter US, whether they were granted visa or they were denied re-entry visa, the embassy they went to, etc), then we would all have a better idea of the general picture and I presume a more convincing case.

Sadaf at May 12, 2006 03:20 AM [permalink]:

I think both Arash and Hazhir have some good points, a non-citizen or a non- legal US immigrant can not own a business in America, non- americans can work for the Americans and pay taxes through them to the government of the United States, but that doesn't entitle them to citizenship rights, and the only reason that they pay taxes to the US government is because of their American employers who have hired them. Hazhir has some points though, even as a visa holder in America, you are entitled to some rights and you should be able to get permanent residency in a due process if you wish, but economic or scientific contributions to America doesn't by itself make you eligible for permanent residency unless an American sponsors you, unless your achievements are in such an extraordinary scale that you would be able to actually sponsor yourself. as far as the security issues go, I don't think we can't ever get enough of those security measures after what we witnessed on sep. 11, and I don't think in a place like Iran, where flag of America gets burnt and sworn at in public official ceremonies, there is any reason why US should not be cautious in protecting its borders and even be more cautious about Iranians. I don't think there is any shame in leaving Iran or anywhere else and come to US, I love America just as much as any other American does, we are all Americans, either Iranian American, White American, Black American or what not, all to a same degree, and we all came here for a better future or our ancestors or parents did at some point in the past, a better future in America that we couldn't have got in our former country or else no one had come here in the first place . I am not sure about Europe, especially after what I saw at the Swiss airport, but I think for America, if you prove your sincerity and also qualify by laws, you eventually will become admitted as a proper immigrant. nontheless, I think Hazhir is right to complain about that whole bureacratic tiresome process of getting visa and all that, even though I haven't been through it myself, I can image how it goes.

Arash Jalali at May 12, 2006 09:00 AM [permalink]:

Hazhir jaan,
I would rather not go beyond the context of rights and responsibilities because from an activist's point of view, one can pick whatever cause one desires to fight for, be that something that directly affects their daily lives or not. Others might of course argue the urgency or the priority of the causes. I personally see that again as a "right" each individual has for deciding on the priorities of his/her own life. So if this is just a matter of being an activist hoping to change something in some part of the world, then I wish you the best of luck.

As regards rights, first I see no relevance between the matter at hand and what happened in 1979. Our parents had a right to do something about THEIR OWN country and now they have the right to change their mind and admit failure in taking part in something that happened in THEIR country.

Second, paying taxes, I believe, is a duty. It gives a non-citizen only the right to continue to enjoy the priviledges (and not rights) afforded to them under the terms and conditions of their residence permit. Evading taxes would annul that permit and subsequently revoke those priviledges. So I think the antecedent and the consequence are reversed in your argument. You are given certain (mind you non-legally binding) priviledges as long as you continue to observe certain rules and regulations. Paying taxes is one of those rules. The fact that you pay your taxes does not give you citizenship status and rights. I have no doubt America benefits both economically and scientifically from your presence there, but again one can argue that that is simply the reason why you are allowed to work there as a skilled non-citizen. Nonetheless, you are still the one applying for a position and subsequently a work permit, not the government of the United States; and of course you are the one who should decide if their rules and conditions are acceptable. I am not arguing about the effectiveness of America's security measures. I too think their idea of making America "more secure" is just a joke but I think whatever they do is simply their own business. If we are not terribly fond of their style, then maybe we should think twice about living there. An ADOPTED country of residence is not one's OWN homeland, and that sets, in my opinion, the difference between having rights or simply having priviledges.


Hamid Maei at May 12, 2006 06:45 PM [permalink]:

I think what is written here was kind of obvious for Iranian students in Noth America. It is quit undestandable why we have to face such harsh behaviors and I won't elaborate on that. However, our problems is that we don't write for the influential journals and magazines. We just tell these things to ourselves! You guys have been grown up in Academia, why don't you write these things and submit them to Nature, Science magazines and so on?! I suggest to Hazhir that write his strories plus some other harsh ones collected from several other people and send it to such magazines or newspapers to indicate whether President Bush and his administration really respect the people of Iran!!

An Iranian Student (AIS) at May 13, 2006 04:31 AM [permalink]:

hamid,

why do you assume a visa officer at the border is in anyways related to President Bush and his administration?
It has been like this for the past 27 years, in many instances much worse than what it is now.

Sadaf at May 13, 2006 08:16 AM [permalink]:

I think it is good to serve the purpose, when you first come here with student visa, you are in USA for school only, it is absurd to cling to one excuse or another to stay here longer after you are done with school , unless you really qualify by laws for that. US is doing Iranians a favor to grant them a visa to come to their country, it doesn't owe them nothing, what's the whole complain about? true, Iranians are an special case among other countries here and you might argue that Iranians are being discriminated here, but Iran's government had not been in good terms with the Americans during the whole three last decades. right?

Hamid at May 13, 2006 01:59 PM [permalink]:

Sadaf,

Thanks for your message.
I neither assume that the visa crisis particularly is because of President Bush nor assume that granting visa is a favor of Americans to other nations. I meant:1. US president recently have called several times Iranian nation as a nation that has different opinion thant its hardline goverment, however in practice I don't see any respect. Just remeber how many restrictions are against Iranian nation which has nothing to do with visa.
2. Granting visa to Iranian students is not american favor to iranian students. It is because they need good students! It has mutual benefits. However, almost they have stopped issuing it anyway!

Sadaf at May 13, 2006 04:19 PM [permalink]:

Hi Dear Hamid,
I am proud of all the iranian students and what they contribute to this country or wherever they are residing, but I don't think America would dramatically fall behind from its current leading status if those Iranian minds stop their scientific contributions to America,and many Americans share this opinion with me especially after the events of Sep. 11, but as I mentioned in my previous message, the government of the United States grants you permanent residency( Green Card) if your scientific contributions are exceptional. I think unless someone really makes that sort of scientific contribution to America,and especially if you have been granted visa only for visit, school, or work, after your purpose had been fully met, it is against the moral and trust principles to try to stay here any longer. I think Hazhir and people like him are great students and individuals and I am sorry that he was subject to all this tiresome immigration gridlock. the reason that I sympathized in the first place was due to this reason, but Iran has some security issues with America, I think you would have just done the same thing in Iran( or if you wish government of Iran) if you were treating with Israeli citizens or Americans. I am being partial here and talking from the stand point of realpolitiks, if you are really upset about the current conditions, maybe as Iranian citizens, you need to do something about it.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at May 13, 2006 08:13 PM [permalink]:

Well, as i said before, the decisions on the level of visa officers is not directly influenced by the president or his administration, becuase at the end it is all left to teh disgression of the officer who also bears the responsibilty if his trust turns out to have been misplaced. What a certain administration can do is to the set the groundowrks for a gradual change of vision that would eventually lead to a different approach on this personal level.
Given the post 9/11 atmosphere it will take long. But Bush and his administration are definitely moving in the right direction. I was pleasantly surprised for example when Condelizza Rice declared some time ago that the US should facilitate the admission and travel of Iranian university students as prospective allies.
The thing is that there is a lot of competition of different view points and traditiosn in the politics of a healthy democratically functioning state (like the US).
The reasonable reaction on our part, I assume, is to find those who are in our favor and try to strengthen them by our own supportive and rational reactions. But that would include going beyond what is fashinable in teh sheep herd and actually trying to use the little grey cells (wow!) which seems to be too much to expect from many people now a days.

Narges at May 15, 2006 05:58 AM [permalink]:

Salaam Hazhir jan,

kheili mamnoon az neveshtat,,amma chera tooie oon keshvar zendegi mikoni? che tor ejaze midi ke behet enghadr tohin beshe?

bebin man midoonam ke to in lotf ro be ma kardi ke tajrobato neveshti amma bebin be onvane ye irani ke enghadr shojat dare ke ino benevise in soalamam javab bede: chera ejaze midi behet inghadr tohin beshe?

mazerat mikham ke inghadr mostaghim porsidam.

hazhir at May 15, 2006 01:48 PM [permalink]:

Narges: By writing this article I didn't mean to imply that I am dissatisfied with the life in the U.S. in general. There are tradeoffs anywhere you live and in case of the U.S. visa issues are a major negative point for non-immigrants. But there are many positive things about this country that I really enjoy and appreciate. Therefore overall I still find this country a very good bargain.

Arash: I see your point better now. Just one caveat: rights and responsibilities are also subject to interpretations. Our parents in Iran don't have the right to protest the government, based on the official interpretation of the rules in Iran. In the same manner, whether the treatment Iranians receive is violating some right might be contested differently by ACLU or attorney general in the U.S.... and I personally take the position of a global citizen in defining rights and responsibilities, which may be different from the point you are taking.
That said, the whole article is not about rights and responsiblities, and I never said my rights are violated etc. Rather, it is a pragmatic piece in sharing some personal story to create awareness, and potentially help improve for all parties involve the definitions of right and responsibility in the process.

JP and Hamid: I agree that this forum is a very low leverage place to voice our issues. If anybody has time and ideas or connections to write in more influential places, feel free to use this material. I may have more to add if you are serious, but little time to take on a science piece on this.
On the stats of the visa problem: things have been improving in the past 2 years but still there is much more room for improvement. I did a small study 2.5 years ago which showed an average waiting time of 2.5 month (sample 40), with large standard deviation, for Iranians in the U.S. who travel outside. My current impression is around 3-4 weeks. There are also school specific stats but I have not seen anything as detail to specify delay by nationality. Those suggest delays are a problem across the board and not only for Iranians. The main problem for us is the single-entry visas that` require getting a new one every time you apply.

Hamid: I second AIS in that there is no obvious coupling between foreign policy and visa situation, except for the 9/11 shock to the system. The delays for forign policy changes to impact visa are long and the links are unclear in my experience.

Craig at May 16, 2006 01:26 PM [permalink]:

If I follow the Iranian norm of silently following the powers and accepting unjust treatment

The first Iranians I ever met in the US were 3 "students" who hadn't attended any college classes in years, and whose student visas had long since expired. They were therefore in the US illegally. All 3 of them were males in their mid 20s, and all 3 were worried they'd be deported, and that they'd die in the Iran/Iraq war. This was about 1986. I have no idea why they shared all that with me, as I was on active duty in the US Marine Corps at the time, and I suppose I technically could have gotten them into trouble. (I didn't)

Iran and the US have a very bad history. We welcome Iranians in the US, who come to teh US for good reasons. But not all Iranians have good reasons, and not all Iranians are harmless. Iran has American blood on it's hands, and a long history of international terrorism. Including assassination of dissidents outside of Iran, I might add. These measures are not meant to humiliate anyone, they are meant to protect people in teh US. That includes you. If Iranians could come and go from the US at will, some of you would be dead.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at May 16, 2006 02:09 PM [permalink]:

Good points Hazhir and Craig. Thanks.

Bandeh at May 17, 2006 11:53 AM [permalink]:

Craig,

So how many Iranians in the U.S. do you know that have ever directly perpetrated terrorist attacks against the U.S.(compared to citizens of freidnly countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia etc.)? The Iranian government may fund International terrorism, but putting Iranian citizens through discriminatory treatment just because of the place they are born seems rather illogical to me. Also I think Hazhir's point is much of this is not creating additional security, but is just creating inconveniences in the lives of law abiding citizens who are willing to go through security clearances, but wish for a more responsible treatment of their personal lives.

Bandeh at May 17, 2006 11:58 AM [permalink]:

Narges jan,

Shoma be in soal javab bedin. Chetori mizarin tooye yek jame'i be onvane nesfe yek mard az lahaze ghanooni be hessab biayn? Chetori tooye jamei zendegi mikonin ke be onvane "zaeefeh" behetoon negah misheh? Chetori tooye jamei zendegi mikonin ke agar nakhayn hejab saretoon konin be zoore chomagh hejab saretoon mikonan?

Shoma entekhab kardin ke in tohinha ro ghabool mikonin hatta agar bahashoon mokhalef bashin. Hazhir ham in yeki tohinha ro ghabool mikoneh. Montaha farghesh ineh ke inja mitooneh rahat be in masael eterazesh ro bokoneh...shoma mitoonin be tore baz eteraz konin? Shayad ham eterazi nadarin? :)

Sara at May 17, 2006 02:15 PM [permalink]:

Craig,

You bring a good point that at the end of the day the reasons for all these background checks etc is for having a secure country...

However, according to the story above, it took the US consulate about A WEEK from the day the background check was cleared to the day they sent the passport, and all they had to do was to just "stamp it and put it in their mail room".even though they knew he had a job interview in US. I do not understand how this can help with the security. It just makes me very very angry and humiliated. Is that what they were aming for?

Craig at May 17, 2006 03:40 PM [permalink]:

Bandeh,

So how many Iranians in the U.S. do you know that have ever directly perpetrated terrorist attacks against the U.S.

None that I know of. None that I even would suspect of that, actually. But I have no idea how I would know, do you?

The Iranian government may fund International terrorism, but putting Iranian citizens through discriminatory treatment just because of the place they are born seems rather illogical to me.

Actually, many people get preferential treatment because of where they are born, so why wouldn't it work the other way around? Each country has the right to enforce it's own border policy. There's no human right to cross borders at will. If the US wanted to close it's borders entirely, the only violation of any sort of international law would be the infringements on the rights of American citizens to leave their own country. At least, that's my reading of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights re: Freedom of Movement.

Sara,

even though they knew he had a job interview in US. I do not understand how this can help with the security.

That's a good point. That may have more to do with simple bureaucratic incompetence than discrimination though. I have a Libyan friend who plans to visit the US and I really hope she doesn't have such major problems, but I think she may be underestimating the difficulties. I'm hoping the recent resumption of diplomatic relations with Libya will help.

Craig at May 17, 2006 03:57 PM [permalink]:

Bandeh, a quick follow-up on the question you asked me. Most of the people who participated in the "hostage crisis" in 1979 would be in their late 40s or early 50s now. Those were students, and I work in the tech sector. I work with two Iranians who were students in 1979. But people can change a lot in 26 years. How would I know if the 50 year old engineer I'm talking to at work was a kidnapper in 1979? Should I ask him? If I did, would he tell me?

I choose to go with my instinct about people, unless I have some reason not to. But that's not always reliable. I've known some very bad people who seemed like really nice guys.

Sadaf at May 17, 2006 08:22 PM [permalink]:

I don't think Hazhir is getting insulted, I think he gets so much better treated here than in his birthplace country. He has a right to dissent but if you are not a citizen,you should not expect being treated as a citizen either, thus,USA doesn't owe him or anyone else giving visa, especially not because he is a good student or he needs an interview to do or whatever. I think despite what you might think, some of Iranians must be supporting the Islamic Republic or else it wouldn't have stood up so far despite the general dissatisfaction of the mass public and some enlightened intellectuals, many of those supporters of the Islamic Republic have means and money to come to America, I don't think an ordinary Iranian student,no matter how smart or good student he or she might be, would be able to come here to America because they simply don't have the financial means to do it. therefore, all Iranians that are in America had some financial means to get out of Iran and come here in the first place, which is nothing evil but a chunk of them are friendly with the Islamic Republic and have got their financial support from them that actually enabled them to come here( to America) for different excuses such as for school, work, or whatever. That specific chunk of those Iranians that I just described, reap the benefits of living in America and at the same time have their hands in the same pot with the Islamic Republic. I myself, would never support such individuals becoming citizens here no matter how smart, educated, or rich they are.However, many other Iranians are good people and just want to have a good life with their families, thus, the task of the INS is to identify those individuals and give them the treatments they each deserve. I repeat myself, no matte how " pragmatic" and how globally enlighted citizen you might be, the US government is doing you a favor granting you a visa and you should be grateful.

hazhir at May 18, 2006 09:44 AM [permalink]:

sadaf: you say: "I don't think an ordinary Iranian student,no matter how smart or good student he or she might be, would be able to come here to America because they simply don't have the financial means to do it. therefore, all Iranians that are in America had some financial means to get out of Iran and come here"

The fraction of Iranian students coming here with IRI financial support is a factual quesion and you don't need to speculate about it by accusing every Iranian student to be potentially collaborating with regime or sth (and to be honest, these types of baseless accusations are for the last generation with all their baggage, as a young Iranian-American I have a much higher expectation from you).
The total number of Iranian students coming to the U.S. is very few (state department has stats, as well as NSF), in the order of 400-500 a year. Almost all are grad students who receive financial support from their university not IRI. IRI in fact has stopped funding students to the U.S. for several years, because they never go back (with the exception of a couple of programs in oil engineering, which have handfull of students, and even those are not getting any new students). Most students funded by IRI go to other countries such as Canada and UK, yet the ratio to the total Iranian students coming out is very small.

And about my personal feeling, I did get insulted at a few points in this visa process, yet as I said before, there is no perfrect world and there are tradeoffs anywhere you live.

Craig at May 18, 2006 12:19 PM [permalink]:

Hi Hazhir,

The total number of Iranian students coming to the U.S. is very few (state department has stats, as well as NSF), in the order of 400-500 a year.

There's something wrong with that stat. Is that the number who come directly to the US from Iran or something? I just can't take the number of Iranians actually in the United States (several million) and look at that number, and make it work. You're the good student, though, so perhaps you can explain it to me :)

As far as IRI supporters... I guess I'm not going to comment on that. There are a number of bloggers in teh US who are clearly IRI supporters, and clearly hate the United States. Perhaps there's an alternate explanation, other than the obvious one. I'm not going to speculate. They ARE here though.

Sadaf at May 18, 2006 12:31 PM [permalink]:

I didn't accuse all Iranians, I accused just those chunk that is supportive of the Islamic Republic, if you had read my message more carefully, I need not have reiterated myself again, if you feel my message undesirable, maybe you shouldn't if you are not in that chunk. I think if, according to your statistics, none or a very minor portion of Iranians, living in America, are supportive of Islamic Republic and almost none gets their financial support from the Islamic Republic, then, I should either question the meaning of Iranian citizenship or at least the stats you are presenting here( I don't care if you say they come from the state department or not)because it just makes no sense that a regime has stayed tight on power for so long if at least some folks, and obviously among them Iranians, are not collaborating with them, and whatsmore, according to you, none of those collaborators have benefited enough for this collaboration financially to ever think of sending their kids to West to educate, live, waste money, or whatever. what you expect from me as an Iranian American is rather vague, I would like more clarafication on that if you don't mind. and I don't understand what you mean when you say last generation with their baggage?? hmm...
all I was saying that, even though, I deeply symphatize and acknowledge the some bureacratic incompetencies of the INS and other big organizations in their paperwork and I would like for improvements, I am not convinced yet why Iran should be treated differently from how it gets treated now, and how demanding some Iranians are from the government of the United States, even though, they are been here on a temporary basis,hmm...

Craig at May 18, 2006 12:34 PM [permalink]:

Hazhir (again :) )

and to be honest, these types of baseless accusations are for the last generation with all their baggage

I don't think you're being fair. I'm not a young Iranian (I'm neither of those things) but *I* have emotional baggage when it comes to the IRI. If you don't, it's not because your age or your generation, it's because nothing has happened that dramatically impacted your life yet. Which is a *good* thing!

But that doesn't necessarily make it so for every other young Iranian.

hazhir at May 18, 2006 12:58 PM [permalink]:

The numbers I reported are for Iranian students coming here on F1 visa. There are definitely a higher number of second generation Iranians in U.S. schools. The total number of Iranians in the U.S. if far lower than "millions". Census 2000 puts the number lower than 400,000; with all potential undercounting, it would still remain under a million, most of whom came here before or just after revolution.
Sadaf: I didn't claim there are no people with similar positions as IRI on some issues, I said the number of students funded by IRI are negligible and therefore there is little control by IRI of Iranian students opinions here; these are obviously two very different issues. The first has the connotation of working for IRI, aka spying, the second is the basic of human right to have different opinions (same holds for bloggers).
I had noticed your qualification of "chunk", therefore qualified my interpretation by "potentially". However, by the logic you are using, every Iranian student here is a suspect of collaborating with regime, until proven otherwise. I am taling based on personal experience: subscribing to the same logic, there is a large portion of Iranian community in Boston (which is itself one of the most intellectual and well-informed ones in the U.S.) who has been avoiding contact with Iranian students here on the fear that they are IRI spys... anyway, overall the commuity is growing out of these conspiracy theories and those who don't miss on opportunities for making friends and learning about today Iran.
The baggage issue is simply that the generation of our parents, following the revolution, have a lot of emotionally loaded experiences, many of which negative, in their interaction with other Iranians, and therefore have a hard time being objective and open in discussions about Iran. What I have observed among second generation Iranian Americans is much more openness and real curiosity, so I am optimistic about the long-term prospects.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at May 18, 2006 01:27 PM [permalink]:

"...and therefore there is little control by IRI of Iranian students opinions here"

I certainly disagree with this. Many students in the US or elsewhere still ant to go back to Iran , at least for visits, they have relatives and loved ones in Iran that could come to harm.... there is a lot of IRI control on the opinions of Iranian students here, indirectly but nevertheless.
I have no numbers of how many are bursaries of the IRI, but I know this, you don't need to be in direct payroll of the regime to be a regime sympathizer and lackey and there are many of that sort among students unfortunately.

The other point is quite subtle but most interesting. As Dr. Nouriala has observed in an article ( see here )
there is another class of Iranian students and academics, many from the second generation but also visa students, who function practically as the activists for defending the IRI interests quite effectively. They are those who have used their firsthand knowledge of Iranian culture (by being Iranians!) to advance in related fields in the academia like Iranian studies, middle eastern studies and other similar human sciences. For them Iran is a career resource and nothing more, they are what is looking for which provides them with the opportunity to travel to Iran and use all the privileges of the regime for any of their researches. In return they defend the regime subtly, but very effectively under the guise of academics and professional opinions. They are among bloggers, in Iranian lobby groups like NIAC (National Iranian American Council), are experts on Israeli-Iranian relations, write bestsellers about the history of Islam for the public, are interviewed in all the news channels etc.
There is a lot of truth in this unfortunately . This not just a diffence of opinions anymore. It is way beyond that in what they do.
It's a shame.

Sadaf at May 18, 2006 05:45 PM [permalink]:

Hazhir, none of the articles written at Free Thoughts has ever directly challenged the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic, they might have addressed issues Iran faces but not an step further, for instance questioning the legitimacy of the regime as a whole, I am wondering whether you are a suspect or not? joking, but seriously, if this is really free thoughts, why none of your articles is as such? or why don't you write an article about the gross violations of human rights in Iran, why don't you write something about Ahmad Batebi instead of writing about your visa to Canada or Australia or whatever? I think since you are Iranian, as a young Iranian,I have higher expectations from you, I expect from you to think more globally( as you said yourself) and more write about your miserable Iranian fellows instead of writing on something that is not universally applicable to the majority of Iranians.

Craig at May 19, 2006 12:30 AM [permalink]:

Census 2000 puts the number lower than 400,000

There are more than double that number living in Los Angeles alone. I don't want to argue numbers with you, though... if you're satisfied, that's fine by me :)

Craig at May 19, 2006 12:50 AM [permalink]:

Hazhir, in case you do want to pursue it (and you may since you're an academic) you should know that in the US, the census fields for nationality and ethnicity are optional. Also, Iranians are considered White/Caucasian. Or "other" for Iranians who object to that classification. As are Arabs, by the way.

If you want to come up with a realistic number, I suggest you look at local statistics. In Southern California (where I live) Los Angeles (and the surrounding area, but especially Glendale) is the largest concentration of Iranians. Further south, the Irvine area. There are about 1.2 million Iranians within an hour's drive of where I'm sitting right now :)

Hazhir at May 20, 2006 05:29 PM [permalink]:

Craig:
If you are really interested in the topic from an academic perspective: The census data on the number of Iranians does not come from the main census questionnair. The information on the ancestry comes from an additional questionnair randomly distributed to 1/7 or 1/8 of the population, so the questions are different from those about race or ethnicity you refer to.
I don't know where you have obtained the 1.2 million number. I have done research on this issue and found very few serious studies beyond the census data. The few that I did find, and one that I conducted myself based on the counts of Iranian family names in the phone book directories, suggest the numbers are less than 1 million taking into account all possible biases of census (which is still the best source, by far).
Of course if you go to Westwood and ask Iranians ("Persians"), they all will tell you, with 100% certainty, that the number is beyond 3 million...

Craig at May 20, 2006 06:15 PM [permalink]:

Hi Hazhir,

No, I'm not really interested in the topic personally. I think we got onto this talking about the number of Iranian students in the US, and I still think the number you referenced doesn't look right. Cenus data, by the way, is not used to estimate the number of people from any particular group that are in the US. It's notoriously unreliable. For instance, the census is not used to deteremine the number of Hispanics in the US. If it was, it would be off by over 10 million. I don't really know how various agencies collect data that they consider "reliable" but I agree with you that rough estimates aren't worth much either.

Just an obervation, though, from a guy who has lived in the Los Angeles area for over 20 years. There are a LOT of Iranians here :)

I live 25 miles from the City of LA, in a mostly anglo community. This isn't really an LA suburb, where I live and work. And even so, 2 of the 5 people on my team at work are Iranian. Some of my neighbors are Iranian. My dentist is Iranian. My doctor a couple years ago was Iranian. For whatever that's worth, which probably isn't much! But I think the Iranians you talk to in Hollywood may be closer to the truth than you think :)

Sadaf at May 21, 2006 11:49 AM [permalink]:

does it really matter how many Iranians live in US? I know, alone in San Diego, my hometown, there are at least millions of Iranians, but I don't know how many of them had student visa or whatnot. I think for the purpose of this specific discussion,the number of Iranians in US has secondary importance, the primary important thing is that Hazhir's visa issues compared to the fundamental difficulties Iranians have in Iran in feeding their families, making a decent life, and make the ends meet without sacrificing their moral principles,is a very minor issue. I personally don't feel any sympathy towards an Iranian person, getting their PHD in something in USA and complaining about the difficulties they face in getting a foreign visa, I think it is a better idea to set our priorities and our articles articles on issues that are relevant to the majority of Iranians, and not to a very select few.

Armin at May 24, 2006 03:44 AM [permalink]:

Craig,

I have easily travelled to several countries in Europe and Middle East, sometimes twice in a year, but my tavel to Canada was very disappointing because of "their" immigration problems. In Montreal, he kept asking silly questions for a very long time to the point that his colleague warned him that he is better to stop it and we passed after maybe about 2 hours! It was probably the key fator that preveted us from arriving to the ACM/ICPC World Finals 2001 in Vancouver soon enough. We had special invitations and they were the CiViLiZeD host of this international events!! Their embassy in Tehran however was much better and finally co-operated by issuing us visa in 5 days (last minutes urgency).

Again, also in this visa and immigration issues, we can see the influence of the biased media demonizng Iranians/Muslims by super magnifying the bad deeds of their bad people and almost forgetting the many good ones, or even demonizing by telling lies (e.g., recently, the massively broadcasted lie of Iran's "compulsory badges" blamed by US and other governmnts and abused to fake relations between Hitler and Iranians).

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,19196947-1702,00.html

Iran has not initiated any war, despite US or ... . Iranians, specially "true" religious ones (and not those abusing religion for their goals) are among the most peaceful people in the world. I see it here in UK. From being honest in simple forgotten money issues (that most people get away with), which surprises officials, to specially helping the poor or elderly who their other compatriots who pass them do not care much about.

We respect the law and rights of citizens of other countries very much. We even respect the life of small creatures on the pavement. Our only crime, besides all our scientific, social and ethical contributions, is in fact defendng the basic rights of ourselves and others, e.g. Palestinians, that results in our being demonized. We do think about the rights of people in the occupied Palestine (Israel) as well.

Certainly there's no relation between religious Shias in Iran and "Apparently Sunni" terrorists or "fake terrorists" doing the dirty job for your governments (according to the news, several months ago, two British soldiers arrested by Iraqi police, wearing arabic cloths and carrying explosives, but released by force by the Brtish Army).

The American blood on Iranian hands has apparently come from the Iranian passenger airplane your evil army shot down, or the chemical weapons Saddam used against us with backing of your government, or Mosaddegh's popular cabinet that your government terrorized, or ......... .

(almost certainly and clearly they shot the airplane deliberately, unless e.g. we think your sophistcated USS VINCENNES could't distinguish an airbus gaining altitude from fighters).

Best Wishes

Craig at May 24, 2006 03:56 PM [permalink]:
Hi Armin, I've had this discussion a few times in the past week already, but since I've been complaining that I never see Iranians talking about IRAN'S past, but only of AMERICA'S past, I guess I need to force myself to comment on it again. So, here goes :) Iran has not initiated any war, despite US or ... This is not true. When Iran sezied the US embassy in Tehran, that was an invasion of sovereign US territory, and a direct act of war against America. That was an initiation of war. By definition. The US chose to use unilateral sanctions and a complete break in diplomatic relations with Iran, rather than military action, but that doesn't change the nature of the underlying action. I skipped the part about regular Iranians being "good" people. I don't disagree with you on that. I see it too, here in the US. We respect the law and rights of citizens of other countries very much. Then why are their hostage takers and kidnappers in your government? The "hostage crisis" occurred under US sovereignity (the grounds of a US embassy) and therefore, by international law, those hidnappers should be tried in US courts, for crimes committed on US territory, against US nationals. The penalty for kidnapping in the United States is death. It's been 26 years. Where is our justice? Where is your respect for law and the rights of other human beings? I don't mean you personally. I'm just saying, you tell me these things, but that's not waht I see happening in Iran. I see people who should have been sentenced to death, or life imprisonment, (26 years ago!!) serving as high ranking members of the regime. Certainly there's no relation between religious Shias in Iran and "Apparently Sunni" terrorists or "fake terrorists" doing the dirty job for your governments (according to the news, several months ago, two British soldiers arrested by Iraqi police, wearing arabic cloths and carrying explosives, but released by force by the Brtish Army). A) I'm not British B) For Iraqi police to arrest British soldiers without consulting the British authorities is a direct violation of the "status of forces" agreement the government of Iraq signed with Britain. I'm saying it was illegal for those Iraqi policemne to arrest those British soldiers. Under IRAQI law. C) The two soldiers had been turned over to shia militiamen by the time they were rescued. If you don't think there's something fishy about that, you aren't being fair. The American blood on Iranian hands has apparently come from the Iranian passenger airplane your evil army shot down Iranian patrol boats were firing on US navy vessels at the time. Iranian fighter jets were inbound. The "Friend or Foe" electronic signal got confused. The investigation indicates the operator forgot to reset the controls after he'd "pinged" an Iranian fighter jet. I was in the US military when that happened, and I personally offer my apologies for what happened. But it was an accident. The military I served in wouldn't do something like that, deliberately. On the other hand, the Hezbollah suicide bombing in Beirut on 23 Oct 1983 that killed 243 Americans, including friends of mine, was the implementation of Iranian foreign policy in Lebanon, and was no accident. Unless you expect me to believe Hezbollah accidentally bombed the French peacekeepers about 2 minutes later. or the chemical weapons Saddam used against us with backing of your government Saddam's chemical weapons program began in the early 70s, when he was inv ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Sara at May 24, 2006 04:59 PM [permalink]:

Craig,

if you had time and if you were interested to know about Mosaddegh and US role in the coup d'é·tat , then All the Shah's men written by Stephen Kinzer is a good book about the Mosadegh time and what happened.
However this is many yaers ago and Madeline Albright officially apologized about US interference in that situation, which I personally think was a great step from US.

Sadaf at May 24, 2006 07:16 PM [permalink]:

I was doing a research project on Mossadiq last semester and so I looked on a great deal of materials on him, both from American and Iranian sources, Craig: you can find so much materials by James A Bill and John Cooley on Mossadiq, and US government archives are also very informative, basically, Mossadiq and his popular government was overthrown by CIA and British agencies due to his anti-imperialist and nationalist agendas which happened to contradict with the British imperialistic oil-greedy interests and American fear of communism's expansion. nontheless, I think , past conflicts should be forgotten and instead of accusing America, we Iranians, should learn from the tradition of democracy in America and try to implement it in Iran as well. better to be friends than enemies, that's my final say.

Armin at May 27, 2006 05:28 AM [permalink]:
Hi Craig, When Iran sezied the US embassy in Tehran, that was an invasion of sovereign US territory - Your embassy had a bloody hand in spying and killing revolutionists in Iran which was against the law. When you break the law, you will not enefit from it saying the embassy is your territory. In the other hand If we assume it has been an attack, it has been maybe the most peaceful attack in this century not comparable even to a bit of a fraction of some of what you government did to my people. Let's be fair. Your government has been very unethical and violent. The US chose to use unilateral sanctions and a complete break in diplomatic relations with Iran, rather than military action - In that situation, those days, a war for such a little attack with almost or exactly no casaultes would be very funny and unlogical. Your government had the Tabas attack to Iran to rescue the spies (hostages) and it was unsuccessful. It was clearly a military action. "We respect the law and rights of citizens of other countries very much." - Then why are their hostage takers and kidnappers in your government? - They were spies and terrorists arranging for killing people and returning shah as CIA and ... did in case of Mosaddegh and this time people prevented them: they were terrorists in form of diplomats (maybe not a few of them but who could know who is good and who is bad in that situation). The "hostage crisis" occurred under US sovereignity (the grounds of a US embassy) and therefore, by international law, those hidnappers should be tried in US courts - As I said they were terrorists and they should have been tried in our courts and maybe several of them were sentenced to death in a just court because of arranging for killing people and returning the dictator, but we were very kind to return them to their country. When you break that interational law, you will not benefit from it. For Iraqi police to arrest British soldiers without consulting the British authorities is a direct violation of the "status of forces" agreement the government of Iraq signed with Britain. - What if they do terrorist attacks for political goals (I can say why if you don't guess what may be their benefits)? If they break the law, they will not benefit from it. The two soldiers had been turned over to shia militiamen by the time they were rescued. If you don't think there's something fishy about that, you aren't being fair. - Politics is full of doubts and "if"s, but we do not hear a great part of important news enough these days, because of the biased media. Most of the western media is fishy these days and usually (not always) selectively chooses/magnifies news (there are good reasons why different media people act "not far from" a specific political red-line of US politics). The "Friend or Foe" electronic signal got confused. - Can signal be confused? A huge airbus gaining altitude? The lies US government of that time said regarding this issue has been revealed by the rival media in US. Captain of that ship got a medal shortly I think. The military I served in wouldn't do something like that, deliberately. - You were not in the level that those crimes are justified to know about dirty minds justifying them. They have minds of dirty terrorists in them with much more facilities and different approaches. Was atomic bombs in Japan which killed tens of thousands of children and women an accident? There are many examples. Good Americans should ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Armin at May 27, 2006 05:47 AM [permalink]:

On the other hand, the Hezbollah suicide bombing in Beirut on 23 Oct 1983 that killed 243 Americans, including friends of mine, was the implementation of Iranian foreign policy in Lebanon, and was no accident. Unless you expect me to believe Hezbollah accidentally bombed the French peacekeepers about 2 minutes later.

- Iran suports hezbollah, but not everything they do. In the other hand, I am (we are) strongly against killing civilians, but if they were soldiers, they had to stay home and defend their country instead of meddling with affairs of other countries or backing Israel's violation of basic rights of Palestinians. Killing peace seekers can be a lie (e.g. they may have been spies under the cover of pace seeker) or a conspiracy to defame hezbollah or Iran which is found frequently, like this massively broadcasted lie to cast an iage of "Hitlerish Iran":

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,19196947-1702,00.html

free_student at May 27, 2006 10:46 AM [permalink]:

Salaam

I think Iranians have abnormal level of expectations. You have decided to come to America and the American society has provided you with more than enough luxury to just do science and be free. If you do not like it, I think the road is open to go back and live in Iran. So please stop complaining and be thankful for being where you are.

Craig at May 27, 2006 03:40 PM [permalink]:

Iran suports hezbollah, but not everything they do.

Iran CREATED Hezbollah. Iran is RESPONSIBLE for everything Hezbollah does, and everything Hezbolah HAS done. Which includes assinations all across the world, hostage taking (and murder) of journalists and other innocents, numerous plane hijackings, and countless other acts of terrorism.

In the other hand, I am (we are) strongly against killing civilians

That doesn't look like a true statement to me. I'm happy that you personally don't support killing civilians, but the IRI is currently sponsoring the murder of Iraqi civilians by the thousand.

but if they were soldiers, they had to stay home and defend their country instead of meddling with affairs of other countries

Excuse me? The peacekeepers were in lebanon to evacuate Yasser Arafat and the PLO from under Israel's guns. That was an international agreement. Why were Iranian Revolutionary Guards in lebanon training Hezbollah militiamen, rather than defending their own country, which is Iran(in case you didn't realize that), not Lebanon?

I'm not going to get into Israel/Palestine with you. It's irrelevant. Hezbollah wasn't created to help Palestinians, it was created to help Iranians. By the way, in case I didn't mention it before - Lebanon is not part of Iran. Neither is Syria. And neither is Iraq. I don't think you and I have anything further to discuss. You seem to be quite comfortale with the past and present conduct of the IRI.

Thanks, Sara and Sadaf, for the info on Mosadegh. I confess, I didn't even know about the parts you mentioned in your comments. I'll check into it some time and try to eductae myself in case it comes up in another discussion. But hopefully not a discussion with Armin :)

Craig at May 27, 2006 03:52 PM [permalink]:

By the way, Armin, even if the level of hostilty between the US and Iran at the momnent does not concern you, what Iran is doing in Iraq right now should. I suspect the Iraqis will not forget (how could they, considering the current state of affairs?) and a stable Iraq could be a very powerful nation, very soon. And (in case I haven't already pointed this out) Iraqis are not Iranians.

Sadaf at May 27, 2006 05:58 PM [permalink]:

instead of accusing the government of Iran or America for what it has done or been doing, it would be much more useful to focus on the current situation, though, what goes on is coming from what was going on in the past. starting from the Mossadiq's time.
back then, Shah( Mohammad Reza Pahlavi) and his royals gained tremendously from Mossadiq's overthrow. we, Iranians, should not ignore that whatever changes happen in Iran, some, at least some Iranians had supported it. Iran has suffered so much from fraction since the medeaval ages. America is not responsible, we Iranians are responsible. any other country as powerful as America, had intervened in affairs of other regions just as much as America has, if it has detected the locales not capable of maintaining peace and democracy by themselves. why India has such an awesome democracy, even though they were under as much imperial rule as we were? the answer is that Indians just did it themselves, but unfortunately, in Iran, some of us are royalists to Shah, some are republicans, some are fundamentalists, radicals, or what not. it's just funny, how Reza Pahlavi and his family still call themselves Prince and Princesses. we, Iranians, are just so obsessed with big titles and so struck by fractionism and division. if Iranians realize this truely and all crave for liberal democracy, free thoughts! and elections, and a right to dissent, Persians can do so well. I am sure Koroush and Arash Kamangir would be so proud too! ;)

Craig at May 28, 2006 04:08 PM [permalink]:

Sadaf, I agree with you that focus on the present and the (near) future is what's best for everyone. I may disagree with you that the present is in any way better than the past when it comes to the IRI, though. This is what a prominent Iraqi blogger has to say:

Iran controls Iraq.

Iran is the reason the occupation is still in Iraq.

If Shea revolt against the occupation...you know what will happen.

Iran has more power over the United stated than it ever did. and Iran knows it and is pushing it too far.

That comes from Khalid Jarrar. His brother Raed is married to this Iranian blogger:

http://benevis-dige.blogspot.com/

That's Niki Akhavan.

Read into that what you wish. I think Khalid is a fool to think there will be any US troops in Iraq for the Shia militias to turn on, but I'm sure that's what he believes. He seems to discount the possibilty that the US forces in Iraq might simply cross the border into Iran, and take the threat of the Iraqi shia militias off the table. Anyway... I don't want to get into all that, but I don't agree with you that the past problems between the IRI and the US can be ignored. They were never resolved, and they are ongoing.

Sadaf at May 28, 2006 05:00 PM [permalink]:

I didn't get a chance to read the Niki Akhavan thing you mentioned, but as an Iranian American and as a grandchild of a persian congressman, and someone caring for the future of Iran and USA, I think if you wanna pull out the accusation thread, you can go on and on forever. I don't think the IRI is a legitimate regime. the majority of Iranians in Iran were never even born when the vote was counted for the legitimacy of IRI, and thus, they had no share in choosing the IRI or whatnot. people in Iran are having a terrible moment, the economy sucks and unemployment has skyrocketed, I don't think they even think of Iraq in such circumstances . now lets face it, would you think about the internal affairs of Mexicans or Canadians, if you had to work double shifts and juggle through tasks to make the ends meet for your family? no you won't, or at least I wouldn't have. thus, whatever IRI does in Iraq,Lebanon, or the West Bank is totally separate from the bulk of ordinary Iranian citizens who have nothing to do with it. if you think US troops are going to invade Iran because Iran meddles in the affairs of Iraq, I think I am not in the decision-making level of either opposing or supporting such an act, and I don't think even as a Politics major, I have enough information to either verify or vilify such a proposal. but I am sure, Persians are capable of being good citizens and also capable of handling their own affairs, if they don't get sickened by fractionism and split over idealogies as they have so many times fallen into by far. we gotta wait and see though. I am still hopeful though, one day, these two awesome civilizations of Iran and America can sit on one table, and Iranians get a chance to taste liberal democracy, freedom to dissent and speech and all those good things that we all want, of course.

Craig at May 28, 2006 07:01 PM [permalink]:

My post was confusing, Sadaf... sorry. a whole section of quotes from that Iraqi blog didn't get italicized. I don't disagree with anything you said, but there are a lot of forces in play that are beyond the control of either ordinary Iranians OR ordinary Americans. I think trouble is coming, but you're right... playing the blame game won't change that one way or the other.

Armin at May 29, 2006 12:45 AM [permalink]:

Craig,

Regarding what I said about what US gov. has done to Iran, I saw no other response from you. That can hopefully be a good sign.

Hezbolah: I asked someone who knows history of politics and hezbolah and he told me they (hezbolah) are also practically against killing civilians. I don't know if it has completely been right, specially in the past, but I know that there is unfair propaganda against Iran and hezbollah and you can't rely on "usual" western sources of news (that forces into people's mind who did what).

Iraq: With a government in Iraq that Iran likes (plus existance of much oil), the main source of unstability in Iraq, as some other evidences also point to, should be US and UK to justify their staying there. Stability is to Iran's benefits, not US.

Armin at May 29, 2006 12:54 AM [permalink]:

Sadaf Khanoom,

Why your mind can be manipulated by propaganda this much: "[in Iran] unemployment has skyrocketed"

See this:
http://www.indexmundi.com/g/g.aspx?c=ir&v=74

Armin at May 29, 2006 01:00 AM [permalink]:

From: http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pn/2006/pn0634.htm


Islamic Republic of Iran Economy:

-------------------------------------------------
2000/01 2001/02 2002/03 2003/04 2004/05

-------------------------------------------------
Unemployment rate (percent)
14.1 14.7 12.2 11.2 10.3

Real GDP growth (factor cost, percentage change)
5.0 3.3 7.4 6.7 4.8

CPI inflation (period average, percentage change)
12.6 11.4 15.8 15.6 15.2

Gross international reserves (billions of U. S. dollars)
12,176 16,616 20,965 24,675 32,993

Public and publicly guaranteed external debt (billions of U.S. dollars)
7,953 7,215 9,250 12,100 16,831

Exchange rate (period average, rials per U.S. dollar)
8,078 7,921 7,967 8,282 8,719

-------------------------------------------------
Sources: Iranian authorities, and IMF staff estimates.


Sadaf at May 29, 2006 09:57 AM [permalink]:

Armin Aghaa
10 percent unemployment rate is very high. The highest unemployment rate was seen during the Second World War. You should also take into consideration the underemployment or those, such women, who are not actively seeking employment. for instance if you work less than full time or if you are not an active job-seeker, you are not counted into the calculation of that 10% unemployment rate. Nonetheless, 10% is a high rate of unemployment alone even by taking consideration of those all potential under-counting that I mentioned in my previous statements. other factors such as GDP, exchange rate, etc are not my primary target here but you would be able to find ample information on meaning of each of those indicators very easily in any economics book, so I think I wouldn’t need to point to potential dangers of relying on them so innocently either.

any mind can get manipulated. There is no way to avoid that, but that’s why we all grow. If we are all so error free, maybe we should all stop thinking, rethinking, analyzing, and all that because we are already just so perfect. Armin Jaan, instead of putting Craig and yourself in a defensive mode, and instead of using the word” manipulation”, maybe there are better ways to all learn something here. Yawn! I am sounding like brother Ben!

Anyways, about Hezbollah, I am not an Arab or a Palestinian or in any stance of justifying what they do or what business, killing civilians for instance, they have. Giving aid to Hezbollah has no explicit benefit or rate of return for the Iranian taxpayers. But the Islamic Republic supports it anyway because of the ideology they are following. What kinda argument would I ever have against someone with an “ ideology” and with a perspective of seeing the world back and white, implied by using the word “ ideology”?

A Reader at May 30, 2006 09:11 PM [permalink]:

I think we should try to find the answers to almost all these debates 1500 years ago when these aabs invaded Iran. http://www.sh-shafa.com/ReBirth.htm

val at June 1, 2006 07:09 PM [permalink]:

for some reason you seem to believe that you are doing the US a favor by being a student here and therefor the US has a lot of nerve enforcing our laws on you. Your arrogance is astounding.


I wonder why you're not writing about the student protests going on all over Iran and instead write a whining post about your inconvienence at the hands of the US.


I can't wait for the mullahs to be thrown in jail, this way Iranians like you will leave the US and go back to Iran. So many Iranian bloggers seem to think that they are superior to the country they are now living in, that we Americans are ignorant. and yet it is the Iranian people who elected the mullahs and who live under their thumbs. then there are the cowards who fled Iran instead of fighting for their country and do nothing but yearn to go back, all the while spitting with contempt on the country in which they now live in freedom.

irwa at June 2, 2006 12:16 AM [permalink]:

salam,link shoma dar irwa ezafeh shod. mofag bashid

Armin at June 8, 2006 12:50 AM [permalink]:

Sadaf Khanoom,

"10 percent unemployment rate is very high. ..."

- Your wording was special (e.g. "skyrocket"!!!). In the other hand, what do you mean by "very high" for a country which has recently had a war (imposed by Saddam and supported by US) and is under pressure of US? Mississippi State in US has an unemployment rate of 8.4 (http://www.answers.com/topic/list-of-u-s-states-by-unemployment-rate) and Belgium's unemployment rate is more than Iran (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_unemployment_rate).


" ... calculation of that 10% unemployment rate ... "

- A woman who chooses to raise her child full time is employed the best way in the direction of humanity and ethics. She produces much, but is not paid and counted towards GDP. Is money more important than love and humanity?


"... potential dangers of relying on them [GDP, ...]"

- In general, GDP growth is a good "concise" indicator of economy advancement. You can read more about it if you doubt.

"Armin Jaan, instead of putting Craig and yourself in a defensive mode, and instead of using the word” manipulation”, maybe there are better ways to all learn something here. "

- Hamvatane gerami, What should I say? Craig's country has a very evil government. Should we ignore this? And repeat biased propaganda against our own country? Like it or not, these mullahs have been successful in may issues, including some issues in the economy. People here usually think "Black" towards Iran and Islam and are under effective media brainwash regardng these two. I have been brutally insulted by some people in this list and I don't think "mind manipulation" is a rude conclusion for "ignoring the efforts of your compatriots because of the propaganda or blind hate of mullahs". By the way, Iran has had the highest research publication growth in THE WORLD during 1995 to 2004 (http://www.softmachines.org/wordpress/?p=216). People very hardly afford to write about these things in THIS SITE. It won't be fReE then!!!


"... about Hezbollah, ... killing civilians for instance"

- I don't accept from the biased media that Shia hezbollah kills innocents against teachings of Shia Islam. The notable Shia clerics are against killing civillians, including the head of hezbollah as far as I have heard.


"Giving aid to Hezbollah has no explicit benefit or rate of return for the Iranian taxpayers"

- You want to be independent and ethical or not? If yes, you'll have to survive oppression of Israel and US governments.

" ... “ ideology” ... "

- Islam is ethics "science" in best form. You can see that if you know it well and for example do not assume people like Omar and Moavieh who offensively attacked countries are real muslims.

Armin at June 8, 2006 02:16 AM [permalink]:

Some other unemployment rates:

France (metropolitan) 10.10
Spain 10.40
Germany 10.60
Egypt 10.90

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_unemployment_rate

Sadaf at June 8, 2006 09:07 AM [permalink]:

Armin
no matter what the rate of unemployment is in Iran, it is just the funny money, if you know what funny money means. Toman has very little value, and that's what makes unemployment more real compared to the unemployment rate in a free country, like Belgium. and I am not even sure how they get the 10% statistics from, what methods they use, etc. since Iran's scientific society is closed to outside scrutiny, how can you tell if they are being fair and unbiased when they are measuring those things, even in America there is sometimes very little resemblance of truth with statistics sometimes, let alone a country like Iran.

about Hezbollah, well... your ideology differs from mine. I am not against the state of Israel and you are. I am proud of America as well and you think America is an evil country, therefore, we are from totally different planets and I decline to argue any further with you on this subject because we are not using the same language. I am speaking from the standpoint of Logics and you talk from the stand point of ideology. I see the world in perspective and you see the world in sharp white and black colors.
I think it is great for women to raise their kids and all that, I didn't say it is wrong to leave work due to matrimonial reasons, I am just saying many women, even unwed or childless Iranian women, don't work.
well, I really don't wanna talk about this again with you, please refrain from addressing me any more, I appreciate it
thanks
sadaf

Armin at June 9, 2006 08:38 PM [permalink]:

Sadaf Khanoom,

I am not even sure how they get the 10% statistics from, what methods they use

***- scientifc methods of estimation, otherwise they could leave it blank (sometimes they do)

I am not against the state of Israel and you are.

***- So, you are not against murder, oppression and land confiscation?

I am proud of America as well and you think America is an evil country

***- I was clearly talking about American GOVERNMENT. Are you proud of their many crimes?


, therefore, we are from totally different planets and I decline to argue any further with you on this subject because we are not using the same language

***- I am using the language of logic and I talked based on evidences and references. Your "therefore" word is amazing in the other hand, you dont argue because I have different opinions!

. I am speaking from the standpoint of Logics

***- You clearly don't. You just claim and leave questions unanswered.


and you talk from the stand point of ideology

***- You could say this if I wanted you to accept something without reason.


. I see the world in perspective and you see the world in sharp white and black colors.

***- How do you dare to accuse people? It is clearly very unethical. You don't know me, you seem to just repeat the propaganda you have in your mind. If I saw the world in black and white I would not talk to you, but it is YOU who escape a logical discussion and rely on accusations!


... I am just saying many women, even unwed or childless Iranian women, don't work.

***- If they seek work, they are assumed to be unemployed and should be counted in estimations (estimations are not normally from Iranian government).


I really don't wanna talk about this again with you, please refrain from addressing me any more,

***- Were you preaching some kind of talking to others by the way? You forgot it? Anyway, you can escape a logical conversation. It's your life.

Craig at June 10, 2006 12:54 AM [permalink]:

I was clearly talking about American GOVERNMENT. Are you proud of their many crimes?

If you are accusing the American government of "many crimes" you are no friend of teh American people. This is a democracy. If you accuse our leaders of crimes, you accuse us (the people) of condoning those crimes. No person is above the law in the United States. If you are currently in the United States, please leave. If you are not, please don't come.

Arash at June 10, 2006 09:15 AM [permalink]:

Armin
clearly you are not here to just discuss some of the mentioned issues by Craig and Sadaf. you are here to pick a fight as hezbollah does in Israel. the tone of your language is insulting and as long as people like you are in the world, there will never be peace. I am ashamed of Iranians like you.
Whenever you decide to have a friendly discussion to help and solve the current problems that was mentioned by Craig and Sadaf and not fueling the fight, come back and say something. otherwise as Craig said, " if you are currently in the United States, please leave. if you are not, please don't come."

Sadaf at June 10, 2006 10:09 AM [permalink]:

fine Armin, I don't wanna fight with you, and I am not gonna counterattack to your answers either, but as Craig and Arash said, it would be great if you and people like you never step on our shores, you and your lot are dangerous people and I hope we can do something about it soon.

Sadaf at June 10, 2006 10:09 AM [permalink]:

fine Armin, I don't wanna fight with you, and I am not gonna counterattack to your answers either, but as Craig and Arash said, it would be great if you and people like you never step on our shores, you and your lot are dangerous people and I hope we can do something about it soon.

Armin at June 16, 2006 01:17 PM [permalink]:

Craig,

If you are accusing the American government of "many crimes" you are no friend of teh American people. This is a democracy.

- Which democracy are you talking about? Choosing between a few unethical people? It is a shadow of democracy ruled by dollar-media. If you have much money, you'll have much power (much more access to the media and politics). Please wake up!

Arash,

It seems that when you are talking to people who do not agree with you, you assume it is a fight. If you are unable to reason, please leave it to those who can.

Sadaf,

Our only danger is the different opinions we have based on logical reasons. I do not need to fight or accuse, I have reasons, what you apparently don't have enough. Please stop accusing and demonizing people like some of your friends here and try to be logical and solve your problems via logical debates. It is time consuming and when people do not share the same idea, it may be painful too for you, but practice tolerance and keep taing part in a logical debate.

PLEASE DON'T BE OFFENDED, BUT IT IS A CLEAR SIGN OF WEAKNESS OF LOGIC WHEN YOU ACCUSE PEOPLE YOU ARE TALKING TO WITHOUT PROVIDING ENOUGH LOGICAL REASON. MAYBE IF YOU HAD THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT I SAID WITHOUT ASSUMING IT IS A FIGHT OR THAT I AM X OR Y, AND THEN RESPONDED FAIRLY BY PROVDING REASONS AND REFERENCES, WE COULD ALL BENEFIT FROM IT. YOU DO NON-MATURE DEBATES AND DO NOT FULLY UNDERSTAND THAT ETHICAL AND POLITICAL DEBATES ARE COMPLEX AND CAN TAKE A LONG TIME.

HUMAN'S IMPATIENCE IS ONE OF THE WORST THREATS TO THE PEACE IN THE WORLD, BECAUSE IT LEAVES COMPLEX ETHICAL AND POLITICAL PROBLEMS UNSOLVED.

Armin at June 16, 2006 01:30 PM [permalink]:

Arash,

Take the criticism or not, you are saying what you don't do, see your tone and accusation: "clearly you are not here to just discuss some of the mentioned issues by Craig and Sadaf. you are here to pick a fight as hezbollah does in Israel. the tone of your language is insulting and as long as people like you are in the world, there will never be peace. I am ashamed of Iranians like you.
"

(If you say, well, I said it because of what you said, then my answer is I also responsed to the same tough words said to me by the others, in a more logical tone.)


Craig at June 17, 2006 12:17 PM [permalink]:

Armin,

- Which democracy are you talking about? Choosing between a few unethical people? It is a shadow of democracy ruled by dollar-media.

You just said there's no suhc thing as democracy. Please follow your own advice:

PLEASE DON'T BE OFFENDED, BUT IT IS A CLEAR SIGN OF WEAKNESS OF LOGIC WHEN YOU ACCUSE PEOPLE YOU ARE TALKING TO WITHOUT PROVIDING ENOUGH LOGICAL REASON.

Armin at June 17, 2006 09:43 PM [permalink]:

Craig,

I told you the reasons when I told you about a little part of the crimes that US democrat/republican governments had done to Iran and the world.

Armin at June 17, 2006 09:49 PM [permalink]:

People often hate crimes, but evil politicians fool them by the media to accept/forget the crimes and cause "democracy decay". If you want a real democracy you should prevent the media from being dollar-controlled (to much higher extent than nowadays).

Craig at June 18, 2006 12:45 AM [permalink]:

Fine, Armin, but as far as I'm concerned, you take an indefensible position when you claim there's no such thing as "real democracy" - and there's no point in arguing about it. The differences between a real democracy and an authoritarian government are stark. When you ignore them, you ignore the truth.

Armin at June 26, 2006 01:20 AM [permalink]:

I meant "true democracy". Evidently, an ill democracy like US in most cases works better than a dictatorships, but it's far from enough/ethical.

Sherry at June 26, 2006 01:30 AM [permalink]:

I hope you don't mind if I put my 2 cents worth on here. I have never dealt with any Visa issues as I have never left the US. Sorry you had so many problems. Alot of Americans are extremely ill with our Government. When we talk about protecting our borders. It is mainly because of the illegal immigration from Mexico. Come on, 15 to 20 million illegals is ridiculous. They are stealing Americans identities to obtain work, committing crimes like crazy. I feel the US should take the wall that Israel has and put it on our border with Mexico. I do not mind immigrants coming to our country as long as they are "legal" immigrants. I have never had a problem with anyone from Iran. My hubby and I even helped an Iranian family that had just bought their very first House. Zorja was even wearing shorts and I always thought that Muslim women were never allowed to wear those but she didn't care. She said America was her home now and that she and her family were never leaving. They have been living here for about 6-7 years now. You have to admit, the American govt has it's hands full. Hopefully, alot of those that are in the senate and house of reps won't get re-elected in November. Those ILLEGALS are doing a serious injustice to those people from other countries awaiting visas. Who said something about Iranians can't open their own business's? I see alot of them. Persian Cuisine's, Persian Rugs, etc. The only problem I have is that some of them(middle easterners) always keep to themselves and never communicate with American Christians, Hindu's, Buddhists or whoever. They say we don't understand but yet they never bother to try to communicate. As an American born christian, how does someone like me try to communicate and understand their viewpoints when they won't talk? The only one I've talked to was Zorja and her daughter Arta. They don't like to talk about Iran too much because they said the Iranian govt has shoved religion down their throats so much, they don't even practice it anymore.

Armin at June 26, 2006 01:31 AM [permalink]:

In Iran's very young democracy we are trying to start curing such illness by ethics in form of an Ethical Democracy. Our ethical system is Shia Islam and the more correct peaceful and progressive interpretation is Gnostic Shia Islam. Our young democracy has many problems but it is progressing much faster than thought by propaganda-aimed lay citizen's of Worldvill (world-village).


Sadaf at July 20, 2006 01:40 PM [permalink]:

well, Islamic Republic of Iran is an illegitimate brutal dictatorship. My final say on this article is that Hazhir or people like him( I am not being personal here, I don't even know Hazhir that much) that are not American Citizens or legal proper immigrants and have been only granted a visa for school, work, or whatever other reason, should go back to their original country after their purpose had been met and their visa had got expired. I once tried to publish an article that was challenging to the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic of Iran through the Iranian Studies Group at MIT and they didn't publish it for their own reasons which I am not aware of. nontheless, my article was highly scientifically-oriented and considering that my academic major is also Political Science, I integrated many useful materials into my article as well. However, in my article, I challenged the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic of Iran( even though it was not so directly laid out), and my article was not published. Even though, I am not going to accuse anyone for it here, I am just describing an event that happened to me. I am not aware why my article was not published, it might have been an irrelevant article or poorly structured in the editor's view, however, in the writer's view( my own innate view), even though it was written in a short period of time, it contained some fresh interesting materials that also were indirectly challenging to the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I leave the judgement to others and I restrain from making any accusations or judgements myself either.

Sadaf at July 20, 2006 04:07 PM [permalink]:

One last note on this discussion, the reason that I put my whole name here instead of just " Sadaf", is because that unlike Armin or the illegitimate government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, or those that are afraid to talk their minds, I believe in the principles of freedom and democracy and I am not afraid to talk about them. and I hope that one day, we all find the courage and honor to defend and protect the good principles of democracy and support it.

imran khan at October 21, 2006 10:24 PM [permalink]:

please send me visa .i shall be very thank full to you for this kind ness.