I have a gripe

This has got to be one of my all time favorite songs. It’s by Dariush and called Ahay Mardom -e- Donya or Oh people of the world. Here are some of the lyrics.

Oh people of the world
I have a gripe
With everyone and everything
I have a gripe
Also with god.

Those who broke the sanctity of love, extinguished affection and put a price on the heart
My scream is an objection from a restless soul
Weary of all the wounds of the world
My gripe is not on my behalf alone

If there is no love, there is no humanity
If there is no humanity, there is no life
Don’t ask me what happened to love
My response is only that of shame…

You can find a better version on youtube but this one is fun as it is at a concert where the crowd sings along.


I’m blogging every half an hour from 9am to 3pm GMT in support of the Secular Student Alliance blogothon. The SSA is trying to raise £100,000 by 16 June. This post is a little late but blame it on my ancient computer.

Try to support the SSA if you can. If we’re going to beat the religion industry, we need to support organisations promoting secularism and reason.

Khomeini and ethics?!

Press TV (AKA an intelligence wing of the Islamic Republic of Iran) reports on an international conference this past weekend to discuss Khomeini’s views on ethics and politics to mark his death anniversary. It was attended by ‘thinkers’ and ‘scholars’. Really!? As Richard Dawkins has said, you do need to read more than one book to be considered a scholar in the real world. And what’s to discuss on ethics?

How to promote religiously sanctioned paedophelia or sex with babies, perhaps?

Or how to kill more people courtesy of his very ‘ethical politics’? Some of his many quotes:

“Do not interrupt the activities. You all have to obey the Islamic Republic. And if you don’t, you all will vanish.” -Ayatollah Khomeini (Isfahan, September 19, 1979)

“Those who are against us are like cancer tumors that need to be removed surgically; otherwise they will corrupt everything.” -Ayatollah Khomeini (Tabriz, Qom, September 19, 1979)

“If one permits an infidel to continue in his role as a corrupter of the earth, the infidel’s moral suffering will be all the worse. If one kills the infidel, and this stops him from perpetrating his misdeeds, his death will be a blessing to him.” (1984)

“…the author of The Satanic Verses book which is against Islam, the Prophet and the Qu’ran, and all involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death. I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them wherever they find them, so that no one will dare to insult the Islamic sanctions. Whoever is killed on this path will be regarded as a martyr, God willing.” (February 1989)

Ah yes so very ethical…

There are more quotes, which you can read here and here if you want to learn more about what all these ‘thinkers’ are discussing.

And for those of you who want to start defending his honour and going on about urban legends and what not, don’t bother. I am also busy marking him and his ‘ethics’ but in a slightly different way (the dustbin has the slogan: ‘dustbin of history’)…

Another arse of a cleric and homosexuality

Another arse of a cleric, Ayatollah Abdollah Javadi-Amoli, has said in a speech in Qom, Iran, citing the Koran:

Even animals … dogs and pigs don’t engage in this disgusting act [homosexuality] but yet they [western politicians] pass laws in favour of them in their parliaments.

He says this in a country where homosexuality is punishable by death under Sharia law in Iran. New amendments approved recently in the Islamic Assembly says that the person who plays an active role will be flogged 100 times if the sex is consensual and he is not married but the one who plays a passive role will still be put to death regardless of his marital status. [And this is what they mean when they speak of ‘reforms’.]

Despite the outrages against gay people, there is an active underground gay and visible transsexual community.

I don’t know if you have seen the below must-see video on transsexuals in Iran. It makes you think how many would consider themselves gay if they were allowed to be gay in Iran.

In one clip, one says:

I am forced to undergo surgery… because of this society… This society says you must either be a man or woman… Society is forcing me…’

Another is asked: ‘If you were not in Iran, would you have the operation’. She responds ‘no’.

Another who has had the sex change operation says: ‘When someone is attracted to me, it’s as a girl… not someone dirty or corrupt.’

It shows very clearly how everything is coloured by religion when it rules and how oppressive it is for so many people who cannot conform (at least superficially) to the regressive rules. It also shows the unbelievable pressures people face not just from the state and society at large but from their nearest and dearest.

Watch it and if you can’t watch all of it, look at part 4 and 6 at the very least below the fold. You need to see this. [Read more…]

The bloody decade

There’s an International People’s Court hearing on the crimes against humanity committed by the Islamic Republic of Iran during 18-22 June 2012 in London. The hearing is a culmination of the work of Iran Tribunal, a campaign initiated in September 2007 by a group of the families and relatives of victims along with survivors of the mass executions of the 1980s.

In the light of the evidence , the Islamic Republic of Iran executed approximately 15000 political prisoners between 1981 and 1984. This means that on average one prisoner was executed every 2 hours within the first three years of the period. Between June 1988 and March 1989, approximately 5000 political prisoners were executed behind closed doors and buried in unknown mass graves. Again, on average, one political prisoner was executed every 2 hours during this period.

None of the tens of thousands of political prisoners, either those executed or those who survived, had a fair trial or access to any legal rights during the massacre of the 1980s. Each and every one of the political prisoner’s fate was decided in minutes following a few interrogatory questions posed prior to their being sentenced to death.

The People’s Court hearings will be held in two sessions. The first session has been arranged over five days during 18 to 22 June 2012 at Amnesty International’s Human Rights Centre in London. The second session will follow four months later in October 2012 and will be held at The Hague.

The Peoples’ Court shall be hearing the live statements and testimonies of over 100 witnesses of crimes perpetrated by the current regime in Iran.

Attedance is free of charge but one must register their attendance via info@irantribunal.com stating their full name and country of residence.

For more information, visit Iran Tribunal’s website.

I am an Afghan

Afghans living in Isfahan, Iran were banned from the city’s mountainous park called Sofheh on April 1 or the 13th day of Norouz (Iranian New Year) – a day people are meant to spend outdoors – in order ‘to ensure citizens’ security and welfare’, according to the Travel Committee’s police department.

This is just the latest attack on the most vulnerable segment of Iranian society. The reported two million Afghans in Iran face huge amounts of abuse and are often scapegoated and blamed for all societal ills (sound familiar?). They end up doing the most menials tasks with little pay. They also often face beatings and mistreatment as well as violent deportations – there are ample horror stories of parents being deported whilst their children were at home and later found starved to death. Discrimination is rife. Afghan children are prohibited from attending schools. Marriages between Afghans and Iranians are also not recognised. Children born in Iran of Afghan fathers and Iranian mothers are denied birth certificates and Iranian nationality. Here’s a video of Afghans being forced by soldiers to hit themselves and say ‘We will not come to Iran again’.

In response to the regime’s latest assault on Afghans, Iranians have been quick to condemn its racism by posting photos and videos saying ‘I am also an Afghan’.

Yes indeed; we are all of us Afghans…

* Signs in Persian say ‘I am also Afghan’ and ‘No to Racism’.

(News link via Mina Ahadi)

We love you too!

You know the people to people solidarity I keep harping on when I’m asked what one can do to intevene?

I always tell people to stop thinking they represent ‘their’ government and to think beyond the given box of ‘security’ and ‘stability’ and instead see that how their interests lie intrinsically with people in Iran and elsewhere.

Well, here’s a brilliant example of this:

Right back at you!

(Via Ben Hopper)

Happy Nowrooz

Just returned from a debate on Islam, Multiculturalism, and Free Expression with DV8 Physical Theatre’s Director Lloyd Newson and ‘Muslims for UK’ Inayat Bunglawala on issues raised by the brilliant DV8 production ‘Can we talk about This?’ at the National Theatre. I’ll blog about it soon.

For now I want to wish all of you a happy Nowrooz or Iranian New Year, which marks the beginning of Spring.

Have a good one!

Morbid terms of endearment

I usually speak to my 6 year old in English but I noticed that when I want to tell him how much I love him, I say it in Persian. Here are some of the things I say at least 50 times a day:

‘Ghorbanat beram’ – I’ll sacrifice myself for you
‘Bemeeram basat’ – I’ll die for you
‘Fadat besham’ – I’ll sacrifice myself for you
‘Jeegaram’ – ‘My liver’…

Talk about morbid!

You can just imagine if this is our terms of endearment, what we say when we want to curse someone!

Now Iran’s a state ‘contemplating’ terrorism?

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has warned about Iran’s ‘increasing willingness to contemplate’ terrorism around the world. He cited an attempt to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US, plus alleged involvement in recent attacks in New Delhi, Georgia and Bangkok.

Increasing willingness to contemplate – is that what they call it nowadays?

What about all the opponents assassinated over all these years whilst they went about their business as usual. Any serious opponent of the regime will have stories to tell you – from phone calls we have received threatening us with death to our loved ones being interrogated, threatened and imprisoned in Iran due to our activities as a way of exerting pressure.

The well known cases of assassinations abroad are that of Shahpour Bakhtiar in Paris and the Mykonos four in Greece where a German court found the regime directly responsible for the murders. But there have dozens more. Most will not know of the assassinations of Gholam Keshavarz in Cyprus or Fereydoun Farokhzad in Germany because of the cosy relationship western governments have had with Iran.  And it continues to this day.

In 2010, Daryush Shokof was abducted in Germany and beaten and threatened for 13 days by the regime’s agents. Of course nothing was done.

That same year, Babak Shadidi, a member of the Worker-communist Party of Iran, confessed and thereby foiled an assassination attempt on my party’s leadership. Again nothing was done. [Read more…]

We have more in common as people than with governments of Iran and USA

Persepolis author, Marjane Satrapi, says:

The world is not divided between East and West. You are American, I am Iranian, we don’t know each other, but we talk and we understand each other perfectly. The difference between you and your government is much bigger than the difference between you and me. And the difference between me and my government is much bigger than the difference between me and you.

And our governments are very much the same.

(Via Peter Manchester on Facebook)

No to economic sanctions, war threats, and war! Revolution against the Islamic regime of Iran!

The below is a press release of the Worker-communist Party of Iran dated January 26, 2012 on the threats of war and economic sanctions.

It says:

The real way to fight poverty, misery, threat of war, and the whole present hazardous situation is the expansion of the struggle against the Islamic regime in all arenas, as well as overthrowing the regime by the people’s revolution and overtaking the running of society by the workers and people themselvs. With all its might, the Worker-communist Party of Iran fights for realizing this. WPI will firmly stand against all attempts to support the Islamic regime on the pretext of economic sanctions and war, or to legitimize the Western governments’ scenarios of a change from above.

Read it in full here. [Read more…]

Khomeini and the Dustbin

You know the absurd cardboard cut-outs of Khomeini disembarking a plane to ‘celebrate’ his arrival in Tehran, inspecting the military, and so on (which incidentally heralded the beginning of Islamism’s expropriation of a left-leaning revolution and its slaughter of an entire generation)?

Well, here’s a better place for the cut-out.

It’s called the dustbin of history. And it’s coming soon for the rest of his gang…

I want to live

So says the trembling voice of a 21-year-old youth in Karaj prison. Zaniar says that his death sentence and that of his cousin, Loqman, have been confirmed on appeal, but the prison authorities have not officially informed them. “Please do something”, he fearfully asks me. “I am very worried. They might call me at any moment and execute me”.

This dialogue is not lifted from a film; this is not a scene from a novel or a movie about the Middle Ages. This conversation took place just a couple of days ago. The two have been charged with ‘Enmity against God’ and ‘Corruption on Earth’. Details here.

Something must be done. The authorities intend to execute Zaniar, aged 21, and Loqman, aged 26, in public. Zaniar is asking the world to do something. He hopes that each of us, according to our individual situations and capabilities, will dedicate a portion of our time to this issue and take action. From today we are asking all of you, our friends, and all organisations for the defence of human rights and groups against the death penalty, to take action. Let us all join together and work to save Zaniar’s and Loqman’s lives by promoting news coverage of the situation, signing petitions and protest letters, and organising demonstrations and meetings. This is our duty. [Read more…]

It’s not Islamic

An Iranian mullah who has been insulted says:

…This must be understood in this country. They must in practice pull out their tongues. What reason is there I am walking and they must insult me, a clergyman; why insult the sacred? In an Islamic society at that.

Whilst this brings us back to the importance of free expression particularly for those living under and resisting Islamism, it also raises another issue, which is that Iran isn’t an Islamic society.

As Mansoor Hekmat has said:

…The image of an Islamic society prevalent in the West is one of pious believers of Islam who abide by its rules, pray and fast, and whose opinions are formed by religious texts or sources. In fact, it imagines that a citizen of a society like Iran is a follower of Mr Khomeini, is really offended if someone ventures onto the streets unveiled, does not like Western music, does not drink alcohol nor eat pork, etc. [Read more…]

Celebrate good times, come on

The Islamic regime of Iran’s English language Press TV has had its UK licence revoked by media regulator, Ofcom. It will be removed from Sky on 20 January. Celebrate good times, come on…

Ofcom finally acknowledged that Tehran has editorial oversight on Press TV. No shit.

Of course Press TV has called the decision ‘a clear example of censorship’ but it’s not. As I have said before Press TV is an arm of the regime’s intelligence service – it’s not press in any way shape or form. The press is banned in Iran unless it is run and approved by the state and even then many outlets are banned for transgressing rules.

The evidence against Press TV is damning. In one case, they filmed a Newsweek journalist imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin prison reading a forced ‘confession’ and knew it was forced. Bahari, who was freed after 118 days, was arrested while covering the 2009 protests in Iran and was told he would be executed if he did not confess.

Also Press TV ‘interviewed’ Iran stoning case Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani on a number of occassions and a ‘reporter’ was even heard ordering her to confess under duress. They also did a ‘documentary’ on Sakineh’s case where she and her son were kept in their home for three days in order to re-enact the supposed ‘murder’ of Sakineh’s husband with her son acting as his father. The two had been promised to be released if they agreed to do the incriminating documentary. by the way, in the same documentary, they accused Mina Ahadi (coordinator of the save Sakineh campaign) of charges that would be punishable with execution in Iran. [Read more…]

Expressing concern is not enough; please take action now

Mina Ahadi has written an open letter to Catherine Ashton, Vice-president and high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy about the outrageous executions taking place in Iran.

Critics of Islam, political activists and others are executed daily in Iran; in the first few days of 2012 the Islamic regime of Iran has ‘upgraded’ its body count to three per day. It is not enough to issue letters of protest. This regime must be diplomatically isolated internationally. Its representatives must be expelled from international assemblies. Its embassies must be shut down. We don’t need economic sanctions that will put further pressure on the people of Iran; we need political pressure and the diplomatic isolation of this regime so that people in Iran can bring it down. She says, it’s not enough to express concern; they need to act now. Read her letter here. [Read more…]

What needs to be done at every execution

This is exactly what needs to be done with every execution:

‘Capital punishment is the state’s terminology for murder. Individuals murder each other, but states sentence individuals to ‘capital punishment.’ The demand to end capital punishment and prohibit murder stems from opposition to intentional, deliberate and planned murder of one by the other. That a state or ruling political force is responsible does not make the slightest difference to the fact that we are dealing with intentional murder. Capital punishment is the most deplorable and appalling form of intentional murder since a political authority, publicly, with prior notice, on behalf of society, with the utmost legitimacy and ruthlessness, decides to murder someone, and announces the date and time of the event.’ – Mansoor Hekmat

(Video via Hamid Khajehnouri on Facebook)

Free Reza Shahabi now

Labour activist Reza Shahabi who was arrested 18 months ago has been on hunger strike since 22 days ago in protest against his tenuous situation in prison. As a result, his health has rapidly deteriorated and he is at risk of paralysis. According to news published by the Committee to Free Reza Shahabi, he was to be transferred to the hospital on Sunday; instead, he was sent to cell 350 in Evin prison.

Shahabi was the treasurer of the Sherkat-e Vahed bus drivers’ union. All the union’s officers have been prosecuted by the Islamic regime in Iran for organising strikes more than six years ago. [Read more…]

They smell your breath, lest you had uttered ‘I love you’

Here is a wonderful poem, In this Dead-end, by Ahmad Shamlou:

They smell your breath, lest you had uttered ‘I love you’.
They smell your heart!
Strange times are these my dear.

They flog love at a roadblock corner.
Love is better off hidden in a closet at home.

In this crooked dead-end of twisting chill
they kindle their fire with our song and poetry.

Do not risk thinking.
Strange times are these my dear.

He who bangs on the door late at night
has come to kill the light.
Light is better off hidden in a closet at home. [Read more…]