Rouhani in New York: Something Is Wrong

President Rouhani traveled to New York and delivered two speeches, had two interviews (one with Fareed Zakaria and one with Christian Amanpour). The UN general meeting wasn’t devoid of good news, Rouhani met with David Cameron and this a great development for Iran. But overall, his tone worried me greatly. He sounded conservative, irritable, and defensive. He had visibly changed from the Rouhani I voted for and support.

You can check his UN speech here. You can enable subtitles. It was the best part of his travel. It contains many strong points. He alludes to President Khatami who was a very open reformist, and a great champion of resolving tensions. He condemns IS and extremism and focuses on nuclear agreement, and how Iran can be a voice of moderation (it’s not, but if people like him get their way, it would) and also the nuclear agreement.

The rest of the journey is worrying though. In the beginning of that speech, Rouhani goes full-on conspiracy theory, saying that these people want to make Islam look bad – and more importantly – make the West attack the region. This makes no sense. Of course everyone knows Rouhani doesn’t believe in that – but why does he say so? He sounds exactly like Iranian conservatives in some parts of that speech.

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Despite Iran’s Human Rights Situation, Please Support Normalizing Relations

Last night I brought you the news that an Iranian man was executed for insulting the Prophet Jonah. And a day before that I brought the news that an Iranian was convicted and sentenced to death for insulting the Prophet Mohammad. This caused many people on Twitter and Facebook to notice, as they should, and as it is natural, because the news is so horrifying. This also caused so many people to question whether or not the west should normalize its relation with the West, some people even specifically mentioned the meeting between Rouhani and David Cameron, saying that while a man was being executed in Iran, Cameron was shaking hands with Iran’s president.

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As the person who brought you this news – and as an ardent atheist, as you can easily see from a cursory look at my blog – please, don’t. If you care for the people of Iran, don’t use my blog to bash the reformists, including Rouhani’s administration, and please, don’t use it to push an agenda that opposes normalizing the relations.

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Iranian Executed for “Insulting the Prophet Jonah”

Only a few days ago an Iranian was sentenced to death for insulting the prophet Mohammad. That person is still alive, and hopefully will be saved, but an execution was carried out today for “crime” of blasphemy. Mohsen Amir Aslani, a prisoner of conscience, was executed today. His crimes include “heresy”, “reinterpreting the Qur’an”, and “insulting the Prophet Jonah”. He used to run sessions of Qur’an interpretation, and in one of them he had said “Prophet Jonah didn’t actually survive in the whale’s stomach”, and this was considered criminal enough to execute him. The tragic part is that he was actually spared execution, but Sadegh Larijani, the head of the judiciary and a hardliner cleric, intervened personally and caused him to die.

The source is here, in Persian.

You know who’s scared right now? Yours truly.

UPDATE: When reacting to this horrible news, consider this too.

Link Round-Up 9/19/2014

Story of the Week: Ayan Hirsi Ali was again the target of ex-Muslim silencing and censorship. Sadly, this time even the Yale Atheists joined the repressive forces. Yale University proved to be brave and didn’t censor her. You can read her talk here. Mohammad Syed and Anish Nair write why the statements made by Yale Muslims and atheists are wrong.

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Iranian Sentenced to Death for Insulting Prophet Mohammad

Via the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran:

A blogger found guilty of insulting the Prophet Mohammad in his postings on Facebook has been sentenced to death. An informed source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the blogger, Soheil Arabi, will be able to appeal the decision until September 20, 2014.

Agents from the Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Sarallah Base arrested Soheil Arabi, 30, and his wife in November 2013. Arabi’s wife was released a few hours later, but he was kept in solitary confinement for two months inside IRGC’s Ward 2-A at Evin Prison, before he was transferred to Evin’s General Ward 350. Branch 76 of the Tehran Criminal Court, under Judge Khorasani, found Arabi guilty of “sabb al-nabi” (insulting the Prophet), on August 30, 2014.

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According to the source, Soheil Arabi has another judicial case. On September 4, 2014, Branch 15 of Tehran Revolutionary Court under Judge Salavati sentenced Arabi to the maximum punishment of three years in prison on charges of “insulting the Supreme Leader” and “propaganda against the state,” through his writings on Facebook.

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In Iran: The Noose Around Reformists’ Neck Gets Tighter

A little more than a year has passed since Rouhani became the president of Iran, but it seems that the conservatives are in full oppression mode. I have already told you how Rouhani’s minister of science was removed by the conservative parliament for the “crime” of doing his job and implementing reforms. But the events of these days show that the conservatives are continuing to restrain Rouhani in his place. These events usually seem too domestic and too insignificant, but they are significant, so in this blogpost I will explain why they matter.

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Why As An Iranian I’m Skeptical of Jon Stewart’s “Rosewater”

The trailer of Jon Stewart’s Rosewater was released. I ought to be very  excited. No event was more defining of my life than the 2009’s Green Movement. Jon Stewart is a witty comedian with honorable sensibilities, whose coverage of 2009 events, sending Jason Jones to Iran to cover the election and then how he handled the protests, made him famous and popular in Iran. I have watched all Daily Show episodes since that time, and no other American has been as influential in my understanding of contemporary United States. Plus, the Green Movement deserves to have books and movies. So what’s wrong? Why I’m not excited? Why do I feel the movie is going to be a failure in my eyes?

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Crisis Group on Nuclear Talks: A Focus on Irreducible Core Interests rather than Maximalist Stances

Crisis Group is one of the best resources one has to understand international policy better. I have frequently read their reports, and I fully agree with their stances. Ali Vaez frequently appears on Persian TV and I consider him the best commentator on Iran’s international policy. Anyway they have a 40 page report on how the nuclear talks could be successful, and it’s a must read for everyone interested in the subject. The report itself is not new but it’s been edited and it should be read.

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