A Persian Amsterdammer Blogs.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

The crazy Ghadafis

It would be funny if because of it people weren't dying. No scratch that, it's a tragedy that people are dying, but this is still hilarious:

Seif-of-Eslam Ghadafi flat out denying anything happening in the country in an interview with Christiane Amanpour. No violence against protestors, no uprising of the people: "Show me a single attack, show me a single bomb," he told her. "The Libyan air force destroyed just the ammunition sites. That's it."

Take note that this is said at the time that media report all but four cities in Libya in the hands of protesters, and two of those being contested. For the article on the interview go here: http://abcnews.go.com/International/saif-gadhafi-interviewed-by-christiane-amanpour-worldwide-exclusive/story?id=13011545

And for jobs that papa Ghadafi can do after this whole mess is over, he can be a DJ!


Meanwhile, outside of Libya, Oman has joined the countries where unrest has spread. Oman is a peaceful nation run for 40 years by a Sultan who came to power when he overthrew his own father. How thousand and one nights! It's been inching towards modernity and democracy at the pace of a demented snail with reforms such as granting all citizens over the age of twenty the right to vote in the year 2003.


The news on Iran isn't so much what's happening in the street, but rather the discussions about how to proceed with the movement. Is it going to be weekly demonstrations? Will other methods of civil disobedience be used? Will people resort to violence? I'm collecting a few articles which I will post online tomorrow.

Friday, 25 February 2011

End of the Reformist Era

It's been brewing for a while: talk of taking the struggle in Iran beyond reform. Even some friends who have been staunch supporters of reform from within the system doubt wether the current political climate in the country leaves any room for reform. Wether enough people are convinced inside the country, and wether their conviction will be turned into action, is a question I cannot answer, but here's an insightful article to read from Tehran Review, on protest, revolution and Iran:

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Where are we?

More than once did I hear Iranians lament that they need al-Jazeera to cover events in Iran like they did in Tunesia, Egypt and Libya. But even the little that us Iranians can do to fill the gap, it seems that we don't. The Green movement has brought out another declaration. Apparently it's a game changer, reaching out to workers and minorities. But so far, no one has translated it. And sadly my Persian is not good enough to do it either.


Again, to remember the real people involved in the movement in Iran, here are some personal stories:

From Teheran Bureau: "Mariam", 23 years old

From Teheran Review: N. Sayeh

But maybe most striking is this personal story (in Persian) from an Iranian transgender who participated in demonstrations with her friends, as published in Radio Zamaneh:


Finally a good analysis of why events in Libya play out differently than in Egypt or Tunesia, and why Iran is different even from all three is to be found here: http://www.enduringamerica.com/home/2011/2/24/from-tunisiaegypt-to-libyairan-notes-of-caution-on-sudden-ch-1.html

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Iran update. Politics and Culture

I can't verify if this is true. If it is though, what bad Hollywood script do these thugs read and follow? I can imagine a director telling actors, pretend you're the most stereotypical Middle-Eastern bad-asses, and this being the result:

According to Rooz Online the thugs surrounding the house of Karroubi have broken into his house, locked him up in a room and are threatening to cut his head off. Link to Naj's neo-Resistance page as she writes it up in English:


On the cultural front, the Prince Claus Fund is organising an event on contemporary Iranian photography. It will be held in the Nieuwe Kerk on Thursday Evening. For info go here:


Persian speakers, have you found these guys yet? The creaters of "Lokht dar Ayneh" (Naked in the Mirror) hold a mirror to Persian society with a bi-weekly updated sketch on Iranian mores and taboos. Very much a rough diamond and lots of room for improvement, but some of the six episodes that have come out so far are hilarious!

Giving the resistance a human face

While victims turn into numbers, and events more abstract and removed from our reality, here's a small article to remind us where talking about living and breating human people.

photo's and short profiles of six protesters in Iranian prisons and one under house arrest:


Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Following Libya

Where to go to?

If you're not following the al-Jazeera live stream, these are good live blogs for news updates:

http://revolution2.moonfruit.com/ (site that follows confirmed and unconfirmed reports)

It's a massacre. I hope the nightmare ends soon.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Why Iran isn't Egypt or Tunesia

While it certainly is educational to compare the situation of Iran with Egypt and Tunesia (and yes, there are parallels to be found), it's not a simple why can the Arabs, and not the Iranians facilitate change in their countries? In Egypt and Tunesia, the deposed ruler was the head of a corrupt institution, hated by anyone who's ambitions in life was thwarted, whether it was because of poverty or the human rights abuses. In Iran, there is actual support for this regime with a significant part of the population. This support can be because they have personally benefited from this regime or they see the regime as the guardians of their culture and belief (ie. abandoning this regime is opening the doors for all kind of moral corruption). Understanding this reality helps to understand the insistence of opposition leaders Mousavi and Karroubi to not to discredit the whole system of the Islamic Republic, but only the reality of it under Ahmadinejad and Khamenei. It is to keep a door of understanding open to the devout target audience that might see in their struggle a true moral compass to follow, rather than the current leaders who behave so barbarically.

Whether this is a sound tactic (or even a moral one) is up for debate. But one cannot wholeheartedly support or dismiss it without studying all factors in the field. Here are some important contributions to the discussion:

Pedestrian of the Sidewalk Lyrics blog chimes in on what it means to be a non-violent demonstrator in a country where journalists have been expelled and the state can do with you as it pleases: http://www.sidewalklyrics.com/?p=7984

Tehran Bureau brings the following article on the labor force that the Green movement so far has been unable to connect with: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2011/02/irans-labor-flash-point.html

I hope that the flash news articles about events in Iran have come and gone, serious debate will take hold about how this movement should develop. Especially since the founding fathers will be more and more closed off from the rest of the movement, and rather will turn into symbols for the movement to use (check out news on how they are treated at the Zamaneh news site: http://www.radiozamaneh.com/english/ )

More on Libya

Currently watching Seif-ol-Eslam (Sword of Islam) Ghaddafi talk live on Al Jazeera. He's pulling a Ben Ali, even starting his talks with a "I'll speak to you, in my local Libyan dialect, rather than in classical Arabic" and proceeding to address the events in Libya in a way that seems to show regret but in reality is slandering media, foreigners (and Libyan traitors abroad). Gems include:

The army did make mistakes, but they were not used to facing angry people.
Some people who attacked the army were on psychotropic drugs.
Media grossly exaggerates events and deaths. They have a hidden agenda for this.
There is a plot against Libya, the security forces will show this in the next days.
Libya is not Tunisia, Libya is not Egypt, don't get overexcited.

Well, we know what happened with Tunesia's Ben Ali when he gave this kind of talk.


Make no mistake, the Libyan leadership is very capable and willing to kill hundreds or even thousands of Libyans if they think this will save them. But amongst the important events that are tipping the scales to the other side take note of this:

The main religious scholar of Libya has called the it a religious duty to protest the injustice of this regime. Here's a part of it:

I thank Al Jazeera for giving me this opportunity, I say that what is happening in Libya now cannot be tolerated, cannot be bared, cannot be kept silent about. A heavy war machine is confronting protesters who are bare chested, raising their hands above their heads as a sign of peace, peaceful, and the regime is shooting them with anti-aircraft artillery, we have not seen this except in Israel’s attacks against Gaza. We cannot believe this happens in our country. The majority of those doing this are thugs and mercenaries from Africa and from Libya who have sold their honour for money. We cannot remain silent about this now, the country is being attacked by foreigners right now. Therefore, I extend a call, and would like to ask our brothers from army officers, technicians and those who are providing logistical transport to these weapons and ammunition about the bridge that is connecting Tripoli to Benghazi via airplanes carrying these weapons and mercenaries. I want to ask these people who are offering this logistical service, how do they plan to face their Lord? Where is the Honorary oath of service to the Army? Where is the honour of being part of this land? Where is the brotherhood? Where is your faith? Selling your religion in exchange for these mercenaries.

Full text of Sheikh AsSadiq al Gheryani can be found here: http://www.libyafeb17.com/?p=1266

Sunday, 20 February 2011

What's up doc?

There's lots of crazy stuff happening in Iran. I can't write as eloquently or well informed as some of the writers out there, but I can point out where to find the information.

After the protests of February 14th (and the counter protest staged by the government on Friday where a negligable amount of people showed up) today is pandemonium in Tehran and other cities of Iran. At least one protester has been reported to have been killed. Opposition leaders Mousavi and Karroubi are cut off from the outside world. For live updates on the events here are the live blogs of Teheran Bureau and Enduring America:

Radio Zamaneh sadly doesn't have a live blog in English, but other sites use the items of the Persian live blog in their articles. For general articles in English go here, where you can read about the release of the German journalists, the sealing up of the houses of the opposition leaders and other events. It's important to note that the English Zamaneh site is not the fastest (as they write in Persian and later things are translated in English, but still an invaluable source)


It is important to note in these events that the revolutionary fire was very much fanned by the events in the Arab world. After Tunisia and Egypt protest continue in Libya, Algeria, Bahrain and other countries. In Libya and Bahrain it's important to note that the crackdown was bloody, but didn't drive the people back to their homes, like it had in Iran at the end of 2009. Hopefully this time the result will not be the same in Iran.

To follow the situation in Libya (to find gems such as protesters burning down one of the houses of Ghadaffi) go to: http://www.libyafeb17.com/ and the Al Jazeera live blog: http://blogs.aljazeera.net/middle-east/2011/02/17/live-blog-libya


For Dutch readers, here's Peyman Jafari giving an update on the Iranian situation on the TV programme "Buitenhof": http://player.omroep.nl/?aflID=12170640

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Love Jihadists

Amsterdam has a very special guest: South-African Imam Muhsin Hendricks. Some people know him from the documentary a Jihad for Love (http://www.ajihadforlove.com/). He's a queer Imam on a mission to rid homophobia from muslim communities. In his own studies he's come to the conclusion that Islam has no negative views on mutual consentual love.

I had the pleasure of meeting him a few days ago. Today I will attend a conference on Islam and Homosexuality where the Imam will speak.

Here's an article on mr. Hendricks:

Friday, 18 February 2011

Music in service of the revolution.

There are different ways in which Iranians are contributing to the struggle for freedom and democracy. One is by the creation of art. If not to convince government supporters to join the cause, then at least to remind ourselves what it is we're fighting for.

Golshifteh Farahani is an Iranian actress living abroad. The song she sings in this clip uses the melodies and texts of old songs every Iranian knows, from political songs to children's texts. The lyrics are updated to refer to today's events.

Here's a translation of the lyrics, made by my friend S.A.:

[Sound of people calling out "Allah Akbar" from rooftops]

Our nights on rooftops
I call out "God is great"
I hold a dream in my heart
and the universe will share our fate

For our children
it's time to sacrifice
thus they will be freed
from this long lasting oppression

This sinister night
will disappear
This country will be free
from sorrow and depression

We will laugh again
We will laugh again
We are united

We will laugh again
We will laugh again
We're undivided


Beautiful girl
It's time that you claim your rights*
to free yourself from oblivion
and the people will cherish you in their pure hearts

Beautiful girl
The flame of your enchanting gaze
your innocent eyes
will illuminate the way for those who fight


Father brought the water**
Father brought the bread**
That man came on a horse,
as soon as the oil was spread.
I will walk to my destiny.

That man is armed,
he attacks the people.
And I'll go on a quest for my destiny.

Stay strong and focus on your final destination
The time has come for sacrifice

[trembling voice:]
Kiss me
Kiss me for the last time

*Literally she sings "The voice of justice has summoned you". Voice is "Neda" in Persian, which is the name of the young girl who was shot during the uprising in the summer of 2009.

**These are two sentences from childrens school books and all Iranian children know this by heart.


I hope it inspires you to keep involved with the Iranian struggle.

Thursday, 17 February 2011


It's an issue that always kind of hung there. The taboo no one talked about. Everyone knew about the human rights abuses against the LGBT community, but to talk about their rights was not done. Luckily things are changing. Iranians are getting more educated, and instinctively feel that if we have 3.750.000 gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders in Iran (my rough estimate, based on a conservative 5 percent of the total population) you can worry about their rights, even if you are not gay yourself.

Also, many TV channels are writing about the issue. Radio Zamaneh has a page dedicated to LGBT called degarbash (in Persian).

And the new TV channel Man-o-to TV came with this item. Not shocking stuff, unless you're an Iranian that's been kept away from this kind of info:

Maybe this is the battle, to slowly inject sanity to the discourse, one item at a time...

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The PR war.

The battle for Iran is a media battle as it's about events in the street. Witness the case of Saneh Jaleh, a victim of Monday's government violence, now being claimed as a civilian militia member (Baseej) killed by foreign backed agents.

For a full factual write up of who he is, and the tricks the government uses to claim him as their own, here's a good link to study:

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

A video in support of the protesters

A group of creative Amsterdammers (Iranian and non-Iranian) performed in the streets in support of the Green movement of Iran. Here's a video registration of their event.

A new chapter...?

After 9 months of blog silence, is it of any use to return? It does not matter, one blogs because one has to, not because there is a function. At any rate, with all that's happening (and not happening) in Iran I need a place to vent.

If you're looking for Iran related news, here's some active and very good blogs. People I've been following for a while, and people I've recently discovered:

One tough lady dishes it out like no one dares to:

When online then relevant, interesting and well written:

The most important blogging/news site on the Middle East at the moment:

Last but not least, Radio Zamaneh has revamped her English site. Good news!

That's plenty to keep you busy. Tomorrow I'll note my thoughts on today's events, and the road ahead.