Rouhani Stands Firm Against Extremists As Tension Escalates

The tensions between Rouhani and extremists over internal policy has been escalated even more. Today Rouhani used his strongest language up to now and harshly slammed conservatives.

For a brief history to those who don’t know: There was a protest in front of the Ministry of Interior asking for further and harsher restrictions on hijab, and then some young people were arrested over an internet video, and Rouhani reacted negatively. Since then the tension has escalated between Rouhani and conservatives who ask for further restrictions.

Rouhani mocking his extremist critics in a speech today.

Rouhani mocking his extremist critics in a speech today.

But there were more things I haven’t mentioned in blogs. Last week Rouhani escalated things himself. He said in a speech (via Al-Monitor):

[Read more...]

Of Masculinity and Me

I don’t know how to drive. I generally don’t like cars, and I derive no pleasure of looking at their picture or collecting information about them. I don’t enjoy football, or most sports. I’m not into physical activities. I’m not into physical fights, although I can be the meanest bastard in verbal ones. I’m a bookworm. I do enjoy porn, but I don’t like talking about it with people, I rather keep it secret. I don’t care about my penis size, and I still don’t know if it’s average or small. I speak in a manner which sounds a bit girly (I speak very slowly because at the most quiet times I’m thinking about 5 or 6 things at the same time). All this might sound like inconsequential bullshit, but these were the traits that defined me for my classmates from elementary to high school, and it was the main point of contention, and it made me feel like an outcast.

I’m also not interested in making vulgar comments about women and to partake in sexual harassment, and that has brought me also a degree of being outcast, up to this day.

[Read more...]

Maya Angelou Has Passed Away At Age 86

Maya Angelou, a poet, a writer, an activist, an icon of world literature and one of the greatest voices of equality and liberty, has passed away.


She was a great poet. She was instrumental in my own life when I read her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

I found her book to be first and foremost honest and uncensored, brutally so. I cannot begin to imagine the courage needed to write such a book – an absolute open view of a great mind. This book is not a slice of life but all of it, in all its beauty and ugliness. As a Persian, who is a member of the oppressive majority in my own culture, I learned a lot about racism and what it does to its victims, as man I learned a lot about femininity and the female condition, biologically and psychologically, I learned about rape and its destructive effect on the victims, I learned about poverty and a the culture of the south and east. I learned more in the three days I spent reading this book than my entire life. I can say in confidence that this book made me a better person.

But there were familiar things in the book too, her love of literature and art, and finding salvation there. Maya Angelou was a brave woman – she was my hero. She not only opened up to the whole world and bared her soul, she overcame hatred and malice, racism, sexism, poverty, and the horrors of her life to become a towering monument of American culture. Like her with Shakespeare, “I met and fell in love with Maya Angelou”.

Among her poems my favorite is “Still I Rise”. Read it here.

Supreme Leader’s Hypocrisy Regarding Sunnis

Today is when Shiites (at least Iranian Shiites) celebrate the birth of Prophet Mohammad, (called Mawlid), which also ends the Unity Week in Iran. Now, Sunnis believe Mohammad was born on 12th of the Islamic month of Rabiul-Awwal and Shiites on the 17th of Rabiul-Awwal. Which was always one of the reasons I laughed at Islam – as if we can know the birth date with any historical accuracy and these two sect clash over such stupid things. Anyway, in Iran a whole week is celebrated which means to celebrate the unity between Shiites and Sunnis. Which means they pretend they don’t hate Sunnis for a week. This is what the Supreme Leader said today (Via Fars News) [notice the language used by this "news" agency]:

[Read more...]

2014 Cannes Overview: My Most Anticipated Movies

Cannes Film Festival is the most important cinema event of every year and it is the time when you can decide what are the best films to put on your to-watch list. This is my list. Obviously, I have not watched any of them, so I link to reviews that explain why these movies have piqued my interest. These are ordered from the most excited downwards.

[Read more...]

Link Round-Up 5/25/2014

Headline: You already know that the great and awesome Heina Dadabhoy is coming to Freethough blogs and I’m so excited. Read this piece on New York Time. It’s a great profile on her.

Story of the week: Islamophobia. I’ve been in Iran all my life. Naturally I’ve never encountered it, but it’s real and needs to be discussed in a rational way. The best people to do so are “the Ex-Muslims of North America” who include my friend Marwa Berro and other awesome people. They discuss the term and their own experience and generally you really need to read this. My dear friend Dan Fincke also discusses the topic rationally and makes an argument I agree with. James Croft provides an example.

Click more for other links.

[Read more...]

Extremist Islamists Want Actress Leila Hatami Flogged for a Kiss on the Cheek

So here they are, getting more and more tacos each day. Via IndieWire:

A campaign to have Iranian actress Leila Hatami publicly flogged has been filed by radical students in her home country of Iran.

Hatami, who is best known for starring in the Oscar-winning “A Separation,” received a peck on the cheek from Cannes Film Festival president Gilles Jacob at the opening-night premiere of “Grace of Monoco” last Wednesday evening. Following the event, radical Hizbullah Students, a group of university students with links to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, filed a complaint against the actress and called for her to be flogged.

According to the Telegraph, the petition reads: “We, the undersigned, who are a group of student Muslim brothers and sisters, ask the cultural and media branch of the judiciary to prosecute Leila Hatami for her sinful act of kissing a strange man in public, which according to article 638 of Islamic Criminal Justice carries a prison sentence. Furthermore, the action of this film star has hurt the religious sentiments of the proud and martyrs breeding nation of Iran and as such we also demand the punishment of flogging for her as stipulated in the law.”

Under Sharia Law article 638 of the criminal code, unrelated men and women are not allowed to touch or kiss each other in public. The maximum sentence the offense can incur is 50 lashes.

Important points:

  • These students are women. See how religion turns people against their own interests.
  • Is there a chance that she will actually be flogged? No. But it still serves to see how unhinged radical regime supporters are.

Also, she has apologized and has stated how much she loves Islam. Survival tactic.

Islamic Identity vs. Persian Identity in Iran, and Why I Reject Both

Iran’s recent history has been marked by two dictatorial regimes, a monarchy, the Pahlavi Dynasty, and a theocracy, the Islamic Republic. They present different values, and different identities. The Pahlavi regime crystallized the “Persian” identity, glamorizing the ancient kings of the old Persia, changing the calendar to a secular one, forcing a single language for all the diverse ethnic groups, and festering an anti-Arab sentiment. The Islamic Republic emphasizes the rules of fiqh and sharia and the major Islamic figures, and it tries to erase Persian Kings from history books.

The duality between these two identities is not clear-cut and absolute. Most Iranians are nationalistic and Islamist at the same time, and it boils down to a matter of degrees. Even during the Pahlavi regime the official law of the land was the sharia law, and the Islamic Republic also has severe racist laws which greatly discriminates against ethnic groups, especially the Kurdish people.

[Read more...]

How to Write the Most Unlikable Atheist for TV

So I came across this post on the Friendly Atheist. It includes this image.


This is such a fundamental misunderstanding of storytelling. These are interesting, likable characters. Dexter Morgan and Sheldon Cooper are so interesting that they carry the weight of their otherwise poorly executed stories on their shoulders.

Let’s ignore for a fact that being robot or a misanthrope or a pessimist is not even a flaw. Let’s ignore that the positive characteristics of all these characters except Dexter is much more than their flaws. They’re intelligent and witty and independent. Let’s think what should be done to satisfy the person who made this image.

[Read more...]

How Kurosawa Inspired Star Wars, and Why Movie History Is Awesome

HOLY SHIT this is an awesome video. It demonstrates how the movies of Akira Kurosawa (whom I regard as the greatest director who ever lived) especially Seven Samurai (which I consider the greatest film of all time) and Hidden Fortress inspired the Star Wars franchise, and also a very short history of American and Japanese cinema and in the historical to boot. It’s history and cinema and samurai and space all rolled into eight minutes of pure awesomeness. Watch it!