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November 19, 2006

Justice for Mostafa, Funeral for Tohid
Babak Seradjeh  [info|posts]

doc-38259.jpg On November 14, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, an Iranian-American student at UCLA was asked to leave the library when he failed to produce an ID in a random check after 11 pm. When he was slowly leaving, he was tasered by the police several times, with no good reason, according to eyewitness accounts. The incident was captured on a cellphone video and the shocking video is available on YouTube. It is torturing and gut-wrenching to watch these seven minutes and one is simply obliged to take action one way or another to help bring justice for Mostafa. The UCLA students staged a protest shortly afterwards, which forced the authorities to launch a serious investigation into the incident. The major media outlets ran the story. MSNBC broadcast the video and talked to Mostafa's attorney who is going to press federal civil rights charges against the police.

Surely, this incident calls for a thorough investigation to determine whether this was an abuse of power on the part of the police, and if it was how to stop such incidents happening again. The LAPD's record is not clean, and even if it was the citizens of a democracy should never take the proper use of power for granted. Fortunately the current technology (camera cellphones, internet and the two-billion-dollor YouTube) has made it possible for such news to be readily available to everyone almost instantly. There are even video commentaries by individuals calling for action. This is all good news on the balance side of the original awful news. And we should continue our vigilance.

In the mean time, I would like to call your attention to this point: even in a democracy, incidents like this happen. However, their happening does not reduce the moral standing of a free society, where these are exceptions to the rule, before a fear society, where they are the rule. The main difference is that in a free society like America's, citizens have the power and indeed the recognized right to follow up on these incidents peacefully. They can be reasonably hopeful to find a more just situation by addressing this and similar incidents when they arise.

In a fear society like Iran's today, there is no such hope. Indeed, the system is such that the news of such incidents get out only as the result of the rather heroic efforts of those who put their lives and livelihoods in danger. So, when a friend of mine who commendably reported the UCLA tasering incident was reminded (in Farsi) of the beating of students at one of Tehran's universities by government-backed armed vigilantes, I could only take it that he was mixing things up. Such mistakes will eventually cost us the better future we all hope to find in our homeland.

As it happens, when I decided to write this piece, I did a regular google search for the UCLA student's name in Farsi to see what Iranians are saying about him. Among the search results I found this: Tohid Ghaffarzadeh, a student at the Free University of Sabzevar, was stabbed to death by a Basij member (in Farsi) on November 13, a day before Mostafa was tasered by UCPD. The reason: Tohid was talking to his fiancée (or girlfirend, who knows?) in front of the University entrance, and the vigilante Basij member found that against "his religious beliefs" and acted "upon his religious duty," according to the University's security chief. There was no news of the killing until yesterday, five days after the indicent, and then only on a web site that is filtered by the government inside Iran. Instead, the national state TV is running the news of the UCLA tasering for its propaganda value over and over again.

So, let's all do our best to bring justice for Mostafa, but at least for justice's sake, let's not in the process of doing so forget Tohid's funeral.

Shabnam at November 19, 2006 10:10 PM [permalink]:

This is a very good point Babak. I really liked the post. Thanks.

ur at November 20, 2006 02:06 AM [permalink]:

This is a classic case of a set up to get publicity for the Mullah’s through thier agents, NIAC being one of them, watch other puppet organizations on Mulla’s payroll like IABA, NIPOC and IMAN to follow . I wouldnt be surprised if IAPAC , folks like Amirahmadi, Titra Parsi, Houghoghi and Babaie to jump on board. This is as free of advertising as it comes.

The campus police was wrong but they were lured into this by a very carefully planned conspiracy. Watch the details get investigated over the next few weeks. How come there was only one student recording? How come the recording did not start from the begining of the incident? Did you hear the student swear at the police? tell them fuck your patriot act? How come his attorney is a 2 time disbarred attorney who was the only attorney trown out of the Federal Court?
Things are never what they seem.

Babak S at November 20, 2006 05:17 AM [permalink]:


The IR advocates here may be using this incident for their propaganda purposes, just as the IRIB is inside Iran, but that doesn't automatically make this incident a conspiracy. On the video, the student says, "this is your Patriot Act; this is your f*ing abuse of power." That is after he was tasered. I think your conclusions from the clip are very much on the opposite end of what they should be, given the horror of it. I have no information on his attorney. The burden is on you to show what is wrong with him.

Ben at November 20, 2006 08:08 AM [permalink]:

Where is the problem with the cops I really can't see it.
They asked him over a 100 (!) times to get up and leave and he didn't, why didn't he just leave when asked too? Why resist officers of the law, is that a game for him? Did he really think they would give up after realizing how 'determined' he was to stay?
During that process he was shocked less times than I can count on one hand and each time he yelled in a very VERY very theatrical manner like a chicken which is being slaughtered at the hands of an elderly parkinson patient.

I was shocked by prankster friends quite a few times when I was in high-school. IT IS NOT A BIG DEAL, you get over it in a few seconds, and you surely don't scream like he did. (Although it depends where you were electrified :D )

What if everyone acted so disobediently to police like he did, can you imagine the anarchy?

Some months after the 9/11 a 24 y/o Israeli who was illegally living and working in the U.S ran away from cops and they shot and killed him. If you ask me, he shouldn't have ran away.
Similar thing happened to a south American immigrant in London just after the 7/7 bombings.

Bottom line is that you don't mess with cops. They are the first line of defence for any regime, whether it's a democracy or dictatorship. First do as they tell you and ask your own questions later when it's over.
I hoped that our 'hero' will learn that for next time, however, I feel he will stage another incident like this even again because as I heard from what he was saying between all his swearing, I understood he had a political motive.

Ben at November 20, 2006 08:22 AM [permalink]:

I can already visualize James Lipton interviewing this Mostafa at the 'Inside the Actors Studio'

"what is your favorite curse word?"

Winston at November 20, 2006 11:45 AM [permalink]:

True. While hundreds of students are treated badly in Iran, some idiot bloggers tend to defend people who have enough rights and power to defend themselves in the US. That student doesn't need our support because he lives in the free society of America. It's the Iranian students who need our full support not some rich American-Iranian student in a liberal university like Berkely.

Arash Jalali at November 20, 2006 03:43 PM [permalink]:

thanks for the post, especially for spreading the news about Tohid. As someone who "thinks" he is following the news in and outside Iran, I am ashamed that I didn't know about this incident in Sabzevar. Thanks again for sharing the news. I am trying to spread it as I am writing this comment.

As for Mr. Tabatabainejad, well you said it best. At least he has a chance to get a lawyer and his lawyer has a chance to review his case and meet with his client, and not fear being thrown into jail himself.

Babak S at November 20, 2006 04:32 PM [permalink]:


I have no experience of being tasered. My impressioin was that it is a horrible experience, and I thought the screaming student was genuine. If that is not the case, I would appreciate a reference that would clarify the issue.

Of course, you are right in saying that people should not resist a police officer on duty, no matter what the system, unless they are ready to pay the price. In a dictatorship, most people know that the price is very dear. In a democracy, the price is not as dear and the treatment is supposed to be free of systematic error. This is where the issue of abuse of power by the police comes into picture. I think that the cizitens of a democracy should always be watchful on this issue. The part of my piece on Mostafa's treatment is only based on this point. I argue this is the reason for the moral highground of a free society over a fear society. I think that the citizens of a free society are responsible for keeping it that way.

Arash, Thanks!

Shabam at November 20, 2006 05:19 PM [permalink]:

Winston, it is UCLA, not Berkely.
Ben, I think one should not resist a police, same as you said. But when he is not a threat to the police and not armed, why was he tasored? That is the main question.

I also do not think you were tasored by the prankster in your school. At least not the tasor gun the police uses. The tasor gun is for the times that the police wants to disable the attacker for a few minutes, so they can arrest him/her. So it has a disabling effect.

Here is a link if you are interested in the research about it:

So I do not think your experience with the prankster can really describe the tasor gun experience.

Shabnam at November 20, 2006 05:19 PM [permalink]:

Winston, it is UCLA, not Berkely.
Ben, I think one should not resist a police, same as you said. But when he is not a threat to the police and not armed, why was he tasored? That is the main question.

I also do not think you were tasored by the prankster in your school. At least not the tasor gun the police uses. The tasor gun is for the times that the police wants to disable the attacker for a few minutes, so they can arrest him/her. So it has a disabling effect.

Here is a link if you are interested in the research about it:

So I do not think your experience with the prankster can really describe the tasor gun experience.

Mehdi Y. at November 20, 2006 07:20 PM [permalink]:


What I felt parallel between the two events were the shear amount of violence applied to an innocent person, the helplessness of the witnesses at the time of it happening and where they happened (in universities). Also, there were similarities in terms of being a witness. The parallel stops there, and I didn't mean to say these two injustices are the same.

It is also interesting that some of my readers had a completely different interpretation of my article. One said I should not compare the two cases because those students in Iran were making political demands and knew the risks they are taking, but Mostafa was not political and innocent.

I learnt about Tohid's death from an angry commenter on my blog who was demanding why I have not written about him instead of Mostafa. The simple answer was that I hadn't heard about it. The more complicated answer for why I am not going to write about it as much as UCLA case has to do with the realization that our power to affect anything within Iran is nearly zero. People living in Iran by in large do not want to hear about these things. In special, they don't want to hear about it from Iranians living abroad. People in Iran do not be told by us what is right and what is wrong.

The only way left to us is to show in a subtle way how things are done differently here and leave it to them to judge. If you read my second post on the UCLA incident, you'll see that I have made a clear point on how the public pressure could force change in democratic societies ( in this example forcing the chancellor of UCLA to have an independent investigation of the case.)

I am open to hear what you think on my last three paragraphs.

Babak S at November 20, 2006 08:09 PM [permalink]:

Thanks Mehdi for your input. Here's what I think:

1. I take it that you agree the similarities that reminded you of your personal experience in Iran are superficial, not substantial. Of course, as individuals we act based on our personal experiences, and there is nothing wrong with that. I just wanted to point out that these two situations, though both terrible, belong to different contexts altogether. Of course, someone saying the students in Iran are "political" so they are somehow "not innocent" is complete nonesense.

2. I don't see a good argument here why you "should not" publicize Tohid's case while in the same post about Mostafa, you did recall your experience in Iran. Also, the argument about not having an effect is very weak. Look at Arash who, despite being in Iran, learnt about the incident here and is informing others.

Moreover, I find the part about "people in Iran don't want to hear us" very irresponsible. How do you know? Is there absolutely no one willing to hear us? I am not saying just talk about Tohid and similar cases; only that no argument, however philosophical, is not going to cut it for complete silence when you know about such a case.

3. There is a paradox in your reasoning. If people are really not willing to hear you talk straight about Tohid, how are they going to appreciate a subtle point about how things are done in the US. Also, If you prefer your readers to draw the conclusions themselves, why not say both? Why not show the complete picture?

AIS at November 20, 2006 09:31 PM [permalink]:

a very good post and arguments.
I ofcourse totally agree.

I also think, given his specific mentionings of patriot act and all that, that hehad a clear agenda, but as others have said before the problem here is the irresponsible and disproportionate police brutality, especially in a Univesity environment. Again I also agree that all the wrong guys, like say ANSWER etc. are takingthsi opportunity to rant their usual crap about politics, neocons or racism, but these kinds of jerks are around. What can we do? We can't base our actions and stances on what such jerks do and what they can take advantage of.
What amazes me most though is the incredible stupidty of the police. I mean the way I understand it you tase someone who is "too active", like in a demonstration. What is the point of using it on someone who is doing the opposite? Wouldn't it just worsen the situation. (Either make him unable to move, or to give him a good excuse for not moving afterwards?) It's just stupid.
And one more thing, like Babak said, free societies remain free when people do react to such abuses of power.
For instance would the civil rights movement have even started if Rosa Parks had followed your advice and your line of reasoning?

AIS at November 20, 2006 09:59 PM [permalink]:
Mehdi Y, well well well. We get yet another pearl of wisdom from you eh? Babak beat me to it, but seriously i can't help ask this nevertheless, aren't you ashamed of even uttering such an bizzare excuse for a blatantly biased conduct on your part? I mean even if you can't do "much", the least any one with a tiny drop of decency in him/her CAN do is make the injustice known in the rest of the world after all the show he.she puts up against what happens in America, so others especially outside Iran, the same who were informed of the other incident in UCLA for example, would hear of it and who knows, once they'd reach a point were this leads to an avalnche, like vis-a-vis South Africa say. Of course it would never happen while poeple are the likes of you. But of course you wouldn't even WANT that would you? After all this is another jewel you shared with us in the other thread, isn't it? The question was why are the student oppositions against what the Islamic regime is doing not as high as the opposition during shah's time: "... that before the revolution, the western countries were friends of Shah, as a result, protesting against the regime in the West made sense. However, today, the west is against the Iranian government and often Iran is portrayed much worse than it is. That is why it makes less sense to do anything here even if someone is strongly against Iranian government." (italics mine) Now it is true that is some cases the Western media do not differentiate as much as we would like between the Islamic regime and "Iran" (ie the people and culture), the first and foremost victims of the former, but seriously to say that the Islamic regime is portrayed "worse" than it is, is not just preposterous, but comic. After all, of all that is going inside Iran. of all the hangings, the killings, the constant and continous abuse of power and trampling of rights of human being in everday life, students, the youth, women, minorities, ... and the scale this is done, how many times do you hear that? comapred say to what goes on in Israel, in Iraq, in france, in any place with a more pro-wetsren givernment? Especially with the way the problems inside Iran herself were presented before the revolution? These all of course follow a pattern. the above jewels, the fact that people inside Iran don'tlisten to people outside, even the fact that you mentioned the other incident, sfterall it was about Soroush and the reformists unlike todays cases... .These are all Khatamist, pro-reform "arguments", aren't they? The ones designed precisely to buy regime legitimacy and give itr a room to breath and prevent worl pressure on it. Then of course is the hypocracy. You are being "zerang", "smartass", aren't you? cautios. After all nobody touches you in America despiet your continous rants againt it, but the mullahs, you don't mess with them do you, if you are so concerend with ebing safe and who knows, future prospects for a not so unsympathetic educated academic and his contributions to the glorious (but reformed, of course!) revolution, eh?. But Mahdi, you can't keep playing half of both sides all the time. In the long run veiled hypcracy fails and some of what goes inside and is carefully concealed just popps up. Like this one I found in your weblog. This is your weblog isn't it? "" This is a word by word translation of your post on November 8 and repeated on Novemner 12 when you were rejoicing the Democrats wins: "Of course am ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Mehdi Y. at November 20, 2006 11:27 PM [permalink]:

My point is not that we have to shut up about human rights violations in Iran, but in terms of priorities, the focus should be on issues that our voice could be heard in Iran and is listened to. We should not shout in such a loud manner that would isolate ourselves and make us a reputation of talking about only awful things in Iran.

Too bad that you don't have the courage to quote my sentences as they are without dropping half of them, and too bad that I don't have time now to respond to your points.

AIS at November 20, 2006 11:47 PM [permalink]:

Oh really?
I quoted enough but if you insist here is the rest:
"...and take Israel's mottos against Iran seriously.)"

Satisfied? Now, your point?

BTw, I find adding almost immediately a link criticizing Iranian TV anti-zionist hatemongering in your blog a nice touch,

Mehdi Y. at November 20, 2006 11:58 PM [permalink]:

You are very childish to think that I added that link because of you. That was added earlier in the day.

Then again, you didn't translate my words correctly. Can't you just read one sentence correctly?

Ben at November 21, 2006 12:03 AM [permalink]:

My reference was my own experience. No ammount of text can describe accurately an experience. If you're thaaat interested, you can buy such device for pennies, they are very cheap and try it yourself.
It really is a horrible experience but only during the few electrifying seconds, I concluded he was theatrical in his screaming of pain because he yelled of pain after they shocked him and because he made that scene on purpose out of his political motive and also because the screaming was not proportional for the pain. (which I remember very well)
Note that being electrified by such device does not leave pain after it's over.

The police only tasered/shocked him, they didn't shoot him. So keep that in mind, I believe they didn't over react as many people think.
My own opinion is that they could've been more efficient in their jobs if they just grabbed him by arms and legs and dragged him out without taserring/shocking him.
My guess is that in such situation he'd still had screamed and make a scene.
And I wasn't tasered with the gun. I was shocked, and even so, the only difference between the two devices is that the gun also pierce you but the electricity is same and even if he was tasered, which is not visually clear in the video because people are blocking the view and 'taser' is often used to describe the shocker too, that still doesn't explain the high pitched screaming.

How the police acted toward this student wasn't close to and wasn't even the begining of impairing free society.
The best way to keep yourself in proportion is to observe extreme situations as examples and our world is filled with those, unfortunately.
When civil rights movements started in the U.S they had to deal with alot more than tasering cops.
Rosa Parks would still have done her part by following my advice because I didn't say obey police without questions. I said ask your own questions later after the incident. The last thing we want is for society to turn into mindless zombies, but you must balance some obedience to state law as well. Please don't regard only one meaning of what I said.
When Rosa Parks was born and grew treatment toward blacks in America was so ill that I'd say it was pretty clear not to obey police officers in many cases back then.
Her cause and life were way beyong this little insignificant trouble maker politically motivated tiny Mostafa.

AIS at November 21, 2006 02:49 AM [permalink]:

Ok. fair enough. It is possible that I didn't notice it the first time and so that is what it looked like.
My translation is accurate. You can continue the denial as long as you wish. This is what that statement says.

Rancher at November 21, 2006 10:58 AM [permalink]:

This may have been a set up, I think it was, but that is not the point. The officers surely violated their Use of Force policy and should be punished accordingly. I base this on our company’s policy which I teach and on familiarity with other entities policies. If the officers did violate the policy then they can be held accountable in both criminal and civil court. If they did follow policy then the University should be held accountable. The most egregious violations were tazering someone because they won’t get up, especially if they can’t get up, and tazering someone in handcuffs. Our policy would not allow this unless the officer felt his safety or the safety of a bystander were in danger, certainly not the case in this instance.

Ron at November 21, 2006 09:05 PM [permalink]:

Shameful behaviour by both the cop and Mostafa. It's hard to say which one I'd tazer first given the chance.

This incident is unique due to its balance of idiocy, which is probably why it is getting so much attention. If either the cops or Mostafa would have behaved intelligently, there would have been no drama and no one would care. More crap American reality TV.

Now, let's talk about Tohid, where is his YouTube video?

AIS at November 22, 2006 03:40 AM [permalink]:


I agree that this thing is being blown out of proportion by certain groups and certain people (like our Mahdi here for instance), and by no means did I mean to say it is in any way at teh same level as the Civil Rights movement. I am simply saying the police attitude was abhorring and one had to protest against it.
How certain others immediately take advantge of such cases is of course a different story.

Ben at November 22, 2006 05:50 AM [permalink]:

While I agree it's being blown out of proportion I didn't say that literally before now and don't wish to step in an argument which you have with Mahdi because I didn't enter his website or read all of the comments you two exchanged, so obviously can't know if I agree with including him in those 'groups' mentioned.

About police attitude being abhorring I must disagree.
Simple exercise: Count how many times they ask him to get up/leave.
Also, keep in mind that the police was involved because he didn't leave when he was asked to before it was called in. He also refused to identify. What would've happened if he were a suicide terrorist waiting for his explosive bag to arrive by his operator. I'd imagine such terrorist might in some situations refuse to identify - actually - why imagine, it already happened in Israeli busses time and again, bomber was asked to identify after arousing suspicion by fellow passengers and then exploded no more than few seconds later.
And we all know that these days radical Muslim organizations ARE trying to terrorise U.S civilians, so this scenario I suggested is not fictional but an extrapolation of what might logically happen in the U.S in the near future or even what might have happened in the past but we don't know about it after intelligence agencies in the U.S managed to foil it.

Those fanatic left wing (by my assumption) students which kept asking the officers for their badge numbers and details would've acted otherwise if a suicider had exploded in that University or another just before this incident. Why? Because they'd have been aware of the risks as I am.

The police clearly had to use some level of force to remove him, he clearly wasn't going to leave on his own. Whether he had to be dragged out in a peaceful way or to be tasered - we can talk about this forever but never be true judges because that wouldn't be fair to the cops and also be being smart in retrospect, something which is a bit indecent and I admit of practicing it every now and then but to my defence I'd point out that we all do. The trick to staying balanced in this occasion is to remember you are smart in retrospect while doing it.

AIS at November 22, 2006 06:38 AM [permalink]:

I disagree. Context is important. This was a university environment, not a high risk facility say an airport etc. Your analogy is not applicable. The police should have understood where they were and what they were doing. Further more from what I read he seems to have been slowly leaving when his arm was grabbed.
(and don't mind the remark about Mahdi, It wasn't addressed to you or any particular person really.)

Ben at November 22, 2006 07:15 AM [permalink]:

Of course you disagree, is it possible otherwise?

Context is the same. University is just a susceptible to a terrorist attack as an airport or a bus.
Must I refer to this:
Terror Blast Kills 7, Including 5 Americans, at Jerusalem University
Terrorist bombing at Hebrew University cafeteria - 31-Jul-2002
I used to eat my lunch in that cafeteria daily during 2004-2005. Theres a memorial monument at the entrance to remind everyone how university can too be the target of terror. (among other things to be reminded of)

A UCLA computer room is just one of countless soft bellies in the U.S and just the thought of having a jihadist suicider explode there makes many factors in the Muslim world drool, and not just the so called 'radical' ones..

Babak S at November 22, 2006 03:17 PM [permalink]:


The context here includes the fact that this was in the US, not in Israel. Also, there is no point in discussing the actual unknown details of what "really" happened there; whether he was "really" leaving or not, etc. There are two investigations going on now, one by the police department and one independent, exactly to answer such questions. As you said, we are not judges here, rather citizens demanding to know better. That's all that matters in this case.

AIS at November 22, 2006 06:43 PM [permalink]:

I wasn't going to continue this row here but Mahdi has given some "arguments" as to why he won't write about human rights abuses in Iran in his persian blog, they are just so disgusting that I can't remain silent.
He says Iranians inside Iran are apolitical and don't want to read about such things and that because of LA based TV channels bad performance they have no trust for iranians abroad and sometimes do teh opposite. I don't know what kind of prophetic facility he uses to divinate such knowledge about the "people of Iran" and what they do and think but even if true how does that change anything?
He also believes that following up on huamn rights abuses in the free world is not just useless but counterproductive because it creates annoyences for Iranians abroad and those who want to come out, as an example he gives Zahra Kazemi's case which according to him, following thecase and pressuring Canada is the resaon why Iranians have no a visa difficulty to enter Canada. He laso thinks doing this will give Iran a bad image that might help the military invasion of Iran.
I just want to say this. Morality is based on putting yourself in place of a victim. SO let's suppose you or your loved one has just been mistreated or butchered by Iranian authorities inside Iran. The regime does all it can to prevent the news to propogate and is more or less successful about that. How would you judge a well doing "iranian" in teh free world who gets to know if your case and can help make it known all over the world to refuse to do it based on such lame arguments? How would you feel if he on teh other is always one of the the first and loudest voices of actovism when something is done inisde the US or against the image of the regime in Iran?

One more thing Mahdi for you. How come we hear nothing about the case of this poor woman and her two children in a Russian airport also with a video on YouTube?
Zahra Kamalfar
This was is outside Iran and so fallls under your jurisdiction, but then again it si not about US and Israel and it might also give a bad image to teh Mullahs in Iran, no?
You of course have always the excuse that you didn't know, although even after you are informed nothing much changes. But if so I might ask how comeyou are always the first to knwo on all thsoe other cases? in two cases at least, the UCLA incident and the Dress code it was through you alone that the news reached Iranian authorities and was used conveniently in TV programs or hardline newspapers. Nice job!

BTW, just to clear settle things completely, I include your sentece and my translation heer for everone to read. Talk about childish acts, what is the meaning of your lame denials? Most poeple here are native Perisn speakers!

????? ?? ???? ????????? ????? ?? ????? ?? ?? ??? ????? ?????
??? (??? ??? ????? ?????? ???? ????? ???? ?? ??????? ????? ? ??????? ????? ?????? ??????? ?? ??? ?????

"Of course among the Democrats there are also those who thirst for the blood of Iran (these kind of people usually have a sort of affection towards Israel and take Israel's mottos against Iran seriously"

you are pathetic Mahdi.
Just pathetic.

AIS at November 22, 2006 06:50 PM [permalink]:

The farsi font doesn't show here. Could the editors leave a comment and let me know how it is done.

kamal at November 22, 2006 08:49 PM [permalink]:


There is an error in your translation. You translated:
"...and take Israel's mottos against Iran seriously"
but the farsi text says:
"...and take Iran's mottos against Israel seriously"

The rest sounds right to me.

Ben at November 22, 2006 09:44 PM [permalink]:

The country doesn't change the context. Both have universities and both suffered terror attacks by Islamists. I'd even go as far to point that a university is a symbol of education and progress just like the WTC. Terrors main goal (usually) is not the killing of as many people as possible but the psycological effect on the rest of the population, caused with minimume resources and effort.
Such effect has achived itself once people are afraid to go study in that university or the rest.

There's nothing impairing Al-Qeada or other radical Muslim organizations abilities from getting a bomb inside a computer room in UCLA.
They certainly have an intent to 'slay the infidels wherever you find them'
Therefore its not farfetched (to say the least) that UCLA can too be in danger of a suicide bomber.
Even more: UCLA might be at a heightened risk because so many young people reside there, because the place is a symbol, because students are politically involved and therefore it wouldn't be impossible to find a Muslim student who hates the values of the west and is willing to suicide. Even that Mostafa figure had a pretty bad idea on the west apparently.
UCLA could even be attractive to a terrorist because each student has a family somewhere else in the U.S and hitting there would mean that families from all over the U.S are affected by it, news agencies in all states would interview them, the impact can be immense, that is a psychological impact, that is the goal of terrorists.

You can not complain that I can't put an Israeli and American universities inside the same context of terror risk. That makes you wrong since both countries suffered Islamic terrorism. (note that I don't say the risk levels are the same, I'm just saying they exist in both of those universities)
Would've been better if you said that Japanese universities have no risk of being terrorised by Muslims in contrast to Israeli ones, now these two types of universities are not in the same context of a terror threat.

AIS at November 23, 2006 02:17 AM [permalink]:

Thanks a lot Kamal. I see now what he is babbling about.
OK, OK, but this is even worse for his case.

Babak S at November 23, 2006 02:49 PM [permalink]:


Your final sentences about Japanese university and the US and Israel being in "the same context of terror risk" contradicts your opening that "the country doesn't change the context."

Also, are we talking about a terror attack on UCLA here, or the tasering of the student? I am a little confused by your starting point.

Now, I am not saying that nothing should be done about potential terror attacks on universities in the US. In fact, something has apparently been done at UCLA, and that includes checking IDs after 11pm in the library, for instance. I am not questioning that policy per se, nor I am defending a "right" to refuse to produce an ID. As I said before, there seems to be a case for abuse of power by the police and it needs to be investigated. The authorities seem to agree because there are two investigations under way. What is your point? That there was no abuse of power? How can you know without examining the evidence? Is it that there is no case for abuse of power? If that is true, can you tell me what use it has to taser a passive non-cooperating suspect? After all he was aready handcuffed and they had to carry him out anyway.

Ben at November 23, 2006 04:02 PM [permalink]:
Babak, I didn't contradict my openning sentence because my openning sentence was refering to the two countries: U.S and Israel, that sentence was answering your statment from your last comment that said: "The context here includes the fact that this was in the US, not in Israel." When I said "country doesn't change the contex" I meant between Israel and the U.S. I thought that was clear. Apperantly you didn't understand me and maybe this particular diviation of yours from my point can teach us on how far we are from each other point of view, even if it was an error on your part. I suggest that now, after I armed you with this information which you should've understood by yourself, you can go and read the comment again and maybe find out we might agree on some things. I believe that since 2 sub-chains of comments I stopped referring to the student and it developed to the risk of potential terror attack. But since you now ask new questions about my point regarding his victimization and the police usage of force here is what I think: I don't see the taser/shocker use an abuse of power since I've already experienced it and know it's not that bad, and after watching the video it became clear to me that there was some element of theatrical acting by the part of that student, exaggerating pain and even taking the time to have 'speech breaks' to sum up in words what has been done to him while he was on the floor, very skillfully inciting the other people in the room against the cops. If he'd been shot, then I'd say the police had abused power. You're also mistaken to say he was only resisting passively because he clearly dropped himself to the floor several times when the cops picked him up to stand - in which process he used force to resist the cops trying to hold him up. - it's true he didn't try to hurt them, but again, they didn't shoot him so I call it even. The screaming and the inciting were psychological attack on the cops and other students. If those cops get punished or rebuked for how they acted, then next time they or fellow cops encounter someone who doesn't identify or comply with simple request to leave the place they would not do their jobs properly and the next student in line might be a terrorist. So now I get back to the potential terrorist risk in a computer room at UCLA or elsewhere or other universities in the U.S, something which we also had differences about: If I had come to you on september 11th 2001 just 5 minutes before the deadly attacks and asked you whether such attacks can happen I believe you'd have said they can't be possible and that's probably the answer most people would've answered to such question at that moment. The problem with all of us is the boundaries which our imagination sets for us and the wishful thinking that something like that won't happen. "This was a failure of policy, management, capability and above all, a failure of imagination" These are the exact words of Thomas Kean, who was the 9/11 commission's chairman. That was his attempt at summing up in one sentence the reason for why the U.S government didn't predict the coming attacks. It doesn't matter that the WTC/Pentagon are bigger and more symbolic than a university in California and if a university in Israel was terrorised so can be one in the U.S. A risk is a risk is a risk and a good American citizen wouldn't want the cops hesitating next time they see someone suspicious. There isn't much room for mistakes on that matter and if i ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Arash Rajaeeyan at November 23, 2006 05:42 PM [permalink]:

the pure guy was speaking with his wife!
the guy who killed him has not even bothered him self (is it correct in english lanague to use him for such an animals!?) to make sure what is the relation between the man and woman!

Babak S at November 23, 2006 08:21 PM [permalink]:


Sorry for the mixup. But that doesn't mean that I did not understand your argument. I just disagree with parts of it. You see, "lack of imagination" before 9/11 cannot be cured by overproducing it. Living under the assumption that everyone on the street in the US is now a potential terrorist is not acceptable since it is not in accord with reality, and since it undermines the basic principle which distinguishes a free society from a fear one with no justification. It seems you have passed your judegment not just about the conduct of the officers in the video but about the motives and the philosophy of the tasered student as well. I prefer to wait for the results of the investigations.

Even if there was a constant threat of terrorism at every corner of the city and the libraries of its universities, how would we want to live? With our freedoms left to be decided by a police officer, or with having the right to demand investigations into their conduct when there is a doubt that they have acted properly? I prefer the latter, as did Benjamin Franklin: Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Ben at November 24, 2006 03:42 AM [permalink]:


["You see, "lack of imagination" before 9/11 cannot be cured by overproducing it. Living under the assumption that everyone on the street in the US is now a potential terrorist is not acceptable"]

I certainly didn't suggest to overproduce imagination and see anyone as a potential terrorist, personally, like you implied that I did.
All I said was to always keep in mind the possibilities for a terror attack and for that never to compromise the police for a miserable tasering of a spoiled brat.
Today you can't enter a flight in some western countries if you carry fluid containers such as toothpastes tubes, shampoos bottles etc. since the recent attempt by 10 terrorists to blow up an airplane leaving England with fluid explosives.
I just guess, if I were arguing before 9/11 that security in airports in the U.S must be tripled you would've dismissed my argument saying I'm over producing imagination about what might happen...

You also asked ["Even if there was a constant threat of terrorism at every corner of the city and the libraries of its universities, how would we want to live? With our freedoms left to be decided by a police"]

In Israel there's a constant risk of terror and freedom is still not compromised. It's very simple actually:
Before you get your ID (for university) you have to pass a simple background check.
You can't enter university without showing your ID to the guard at the entrance thus eliminating any chance something like in the video you posted could happen commonly or in a risky manner.
There are a few more preventative security actions being taken but they aren't relevant here and long to explain but I'm not saying they should all be implemented in a university in the U.S, I just wanted to make my point that you can still live in relative security without police having to compromise your freedom. You get used to it and the authorities get better at what they do through the years in such a way that they become more efficient without demanding more from you, the uninvolved lawful citizen.

You are very wrong to take Benjamin Franklin's quote and put it here.
He did not live in an era of suicide bombers who mingle and explode between unsuspecting citizens living their harmless lives - therefore his ideas of safety and security are alot different.
Now you gave a great example of comparing two things which are out of context with each other.
In his time there wasn't even anything close to the hate culture of modern radical Muslims which could've suggest such a thing is possible - and it wasn't (in his time) possible.
You and I are historically much more wiser than Franklin. We are packed with more than 200 years of new history and experience which happened since the time he died until today. I suggest you take that into consideration next time.

Babak S at November 24, 2006 11:55 PM [permalink]:


Whether or not I would dismiss the idea of tripling the security measures at the airports before 9/11, still the person arguing for such a policy had to justify it with reasonable explanations. Like any problem, a good solution to the security problem should produce net benefit. There are many aspects that must be considered. Checking IDs has low costs and could be part of a good solution. Tripling the security measures at the airports might save us from some suicide attacks, but it also creates long waits. If those waits affect the economy adversely or if they cost other lives in the process of waiting -- I am not saying they do, just if -- it may not be worth it. Just because there is a security problem of some sort, it doesn't justify all and every imaginable action.

Franklin's quote is a guiding principle when considering such solutions vis a vis freedom. It is as relevant today as ever. Franklin does not specify the risks and security problems. His is a general statement. One can either accept it for all cases, or reject it for all cases. It is not rational to accept it for some cases and some times, and not others. It defines two concepts: "essential liberty" and "temporary safety". If you accept the general wisdom that the former is more precious than the latter, then you could perhaps argue that containing suicide bombers is not a "temporary safety" or that such and such solution does not compromise an "essential liberty." I think giving the police uncritical power, as you seem to suggest (see below) costs us an essential liberty without gaining any non-temporary safety. So, I oppose it.

I was thinking about your statement that we live "live in an era of suicide bombers who mingle and explode between unsuspecting citizens living their harmless lives." This is not universally true. Nevertheless, for the sake of argument, I would accept it. In the case of the tasered UCLA student, you seem to conclude from it that "if those cops get punished or rebuked for how they acted, then next time they or fellow cops encounter someone who doesn't identify or comply with simple request to leave the place they would not do their jobs properly and the next student in line might be a terrorist." This is not a good argument. If the student in our story *was* a terrorist, how would tasering him stop him from exploding himself? If he was a terrorist the situation was already beyond repair: he should have been stopped long before he reached the library or the campus. The question is what should be done if he is not a terrorist, which applies to this story. Calling cops to remove a terrorist from a library is useless, so *if* they have abused their power in this case and get punished, next time they are about to do their job, opposite to your conclusion, they would do it properly without abusing their power.

Ben at November 25, 2006 02:05 AM [permalink]:


Regarding your worries about the adverse effects higher security measures might have on economy and waiting lines etc, all I can say is that it would probably create those problems at first but they can all be solved in time when authorities and the society get better and more efficient.
I see no point in debating much longer about Franklin's quote, I really don't and will not agree why one forces himself to see the quote at a universal light and as a general guideline. While poetically such view can be beautiful, practically it was said by a great person who lived more than 200 years ago not knowing what we know today and I already regarded this.

Claiming the point that the cops don't have to use force to stop a terrorist you based your whole argument on a false premises saying:
["If he was a terrorist the situation was already beyond repair: he should have been stopped long before he reached the library or the campus."]
That is not true because reality dictates time and again throughout the world that these types of terrorists are not stopped usually until they get to their destinations and although few, there have been times in the past where the suicide was prevented by vigorous law enforcement personal or even citizens.

Roger at November 27, 2006 06:01 AM [permalink]:

So America is not a fear society and Iran is?

Babak S at November 27, 2006 10:27 PM [permalink]:

Yes, Roger, for all essential purposes, that is a correct statement.

American Vet at November 28, 2006 12:48 PM [permalink]:

It was mentioned in an earlier post about the abuse of force by the UCLA Campus Police. I think it is a rush to judgement on that. Please don't get me wrong, I am not saying it wasn't but all must wait for the results of the investigation and check it's findings against the UCLA Campus Police Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the use of a taser.
If in fact the officers used the taser within the guidelines of the SOP, then there was no abuse. What it may mean is that the SOP may or may not need to be changed.
Again, I am not saying the police are guilty or innocent; in the US we must wait for the investigation to be completed and then a determination should be made if there was a policy violation and at which time a trial ordered.
As for the student; it is too bad he was tasered. Being tasered is never a pleasant experience and will render even the strongest person incapable of moving for a brief time. He should have just complied with the demands of the police and once the situation was resolved, take his complaint to the University. Did the student have a motive?? Maybe, maybe not, I don't know him personally.
I do agree with the person who mentioned it is funny that only one person videotaped the incident. But we must always be wary of videotapes because you never see a video from the very beginning of an incident. A person only starts videotaping when the incident enters a hightened / aggitated state. It still does not mean the student was/is guilty of planning the event. Maybe that is something else that should be investigated.
This is something new for humans, videotape judgements. We must guard against rushing to judgements based on what a video may or may not show. Video can be very useful if used correctly and honestly.

American Vet at November 28, 2006 12:50 PM [permalink]:

I am very sorry to hear about the young man who was stabbed to death in Iran. It is really a shame that something as simple as talking to a girl leads to being stab to death.
I would like to say it doesn't happen in the US but we all know that things like that happen here as well.

Student at December 2, 2006 07:18 PM [permalink]:


Thanks for the essay. I saw the video and I didnt think that he was leaving the library quietly. The police repeatedly asked him to leave but he was not responding and was shouting all the time.

I believe Iranians in general expect too much and forget that their government is an official enemy of the united states. As a person who is born in Iran and ethnically Iranian (though I have no interest in Iran as a country)I believe that US is a great country and should have harsher policies to such actions by a student which is just a shame for all Iranians if a member behaves in that way.

jomjomeh at December 7, 2006 12:08 AM [permalink]:

Basij is not a university police or a city cop. A basij student killing another student is the act of one student against another. This is done by a cop(s) on a student. By the way what happened to that basij?. Oh for the tough guys...When u r tasered you cant move ...that is the whole point of tasering some one in the first place dear Einstiens.

student at December 10, 2006 04:45 PM [permalink]:

Well! The police sometime need to be tough for the protection of others. I was in UCSD and know california school systems. The school security is very tough and you dont wann mess up by trying to be a hero! It was his own fault and the police acted appropriately.
I believe, they should be tougher on such students. Anyways, dont even try to campare american system to barbaric system of Iran.

student-look-alike at December 11, 2006 03:54 PM [permalink]:

Sometimes police needs to be tough ? Why should they not be tough all the times? and who decides when that "sometimes" is? In this case the student was tasered and the "main" purpose of tasering somebody is to disable him or why taser in the first place? After they tasered him (unecceessarily more than once) they could have easily picked him up and carried him outside. As usual LAPD decided to be a big dick. What was so appropriate about three cops standing there and shouting their brains out at a student who was tasered more than once and unable to move? These LAPD are the same bastards who ran when the riots in south central errupetd. These big dicks suddenly turned into pussys, they were no where to be found when those riots errupted; they ran and left the public unprotected. These LAPD are bunch of thugs abusing the police uniforms. Imagin what LAPD would do if this guy was running on the street and burning cars and breaking the shop windows? a fun sport for some thugs in Iran who call themsleves students.

AIS at December 13, 2006 01:45 AM [permalink]:

kudos to the brave and wise students in Iran who showed what it is to be a real freedom lover and freedom fighter by facing that fascist piece of filth in Amir Kabir (Polytechnic) university.
fascist president, you do not belong in polytechnic

And once again the stink of the socalled "reformists" rose to the air. By condeming! the students protests and calling Ahmadinejad "the chosen fo the people" this pathetic "reform" sh*t has shown it can sink always further down its swamp. just read this renowned top "reformist" "intellectual" "journalist" .
It is not a single second that i don't feel proud for the boycott of elections that prevented thos filths to once again suume the caricature of power and deceive the world while the regime prepares its doomsday for entire humanity. Let the world open its eyes and see the true nature that the likes of Khatami and his tribe of prostitites tried to hide.
For many people's infoirmation, the main figures behind the holocaust denial and outward antisemitism of the system in Iran were close allies of the reformists 8 years ago. poeple like Shahbazi who was supporting Khatami and with whom many reformist newspapers used to interview all the time is just one of the godfathers of this poisonous desase. there are many more such skeletons in the refomrists closet. they are actaully the closest to the Hizbollah and osuthern lebanese forces. Much closer than thiis lumpen today. They are the ones behind the scene pushing the death machine forward. Ahmadinejad has only pulled the veil a bit too early for their plans for his own inetrnal gains. that is all. He is just one figure in a system that is bound on hatred and bloodshed.
Indeed even the flees of this piece of fascistic filth Ahmadinejad are worth more that this entire "reformist" movement.
Go figure!

ibn sharon at December 13, 2006 11:09 PM [permalink]:


AIS at December 14, 2006 05:05 PM [permalink]:

Now go and jump in the sewer.
good boy.

Ben at September 18, 2007 05:57 PM [permalink]:

"Here we go again..."
This cliché is the most suitable less than a year after the taser incident in UCLA another one happened yesterday in UF (Florida).
I suppose a more effective way to control those little ranters is by having an electrifying implant in their main nervous system that can zap the hell out of them little b*a***** when the cop uses the appropriate button on his RC muhahaha j/k :)
Reminds me of a funny southpark episode.
If this becomes the trend with security personal, then it's indeed wrong. But I'm always happy to see a bloody conspiracy nut being zapped.

Here are some candies including videos:

Kerry Responds to Taser Incident:

Kerry Says He Wishes Discussion Hadn't Been Cut Off:

video no.1 A better perspective of why student apprehended and Taser; see FULL video:

video no.2 University of Florida student Tasered at Kerry forum:

Well then, I guess the system of "rant and be vocal as possible" really works because an independent report by the "Police Assessment Resource Center" (no joke, there is such organization) found the security personal from the UCLA incident as foul just a few weeks ago.
A Bad Night at Powell Library: The Events of November 14, 2006 PDF file of the report:

Ben at September 19, 2007 11:08 PM [permalink]:

First video link down, full question video at:

Another later one with less shake at:

Amazing how every second person in the audience was recording this...