Ekbatan Observer

Chronicling Iran's struggle towards political emancipation

18 July 2005

Shiraz: Fount of Beauty and Virtue

By: Reza Bayegan

When Darius Kadivar - whom I knew through his work, but had never met before - walked towards me as I passed through the gates of the cemetery greeting me by my name and according to the Iranian custom gave me a kiss on both cheeks, I was sure the taxi had driven me to the right place. He introduced me to his mother Jeannette, his sister Sylvie-Roya, a friend of the family having just arrived from Shiraz and a group of Iranians who knew his late father from their student days in Paris in the 1950s. A few minutes later following others, I took my turn standing by the edge of an open grave, throwing freshly picked rose petals onto the coffin of a Shirazi surgeon Dr. Kayomars Rouhollah Kadivar who died in exile in France on 4 July at the age of 75.

On that beautiful sunny 11 July day, abounding with flowers, the discreet number of mourners had assembled in Le Chesnay cemetery near Versailles to pay their respects to a beloved husband, an affectionate father, and a dear friend. And I who had never met Dr. Kadivar during his life had travelled from Paris to just be there beside his son, my dear friend Cyrus. I had come to offer him my emotional support at a time of a painful loss unmindful of the verity that when you come with all the sincere intentions to give, you leave with your cup running over with the fullness of what you have received. In this case, the content of my cup had the distinct aroma and flavour of that quintessential Iranian city, the world capital of poetry.

Eulogies were recited during the ceremony before the burial. Each time the name of Shiraz or Hafiz was mentioned, my attention was drawn to the fresh tears welling up in the eyes of the French born Mrs. Kadivar. These two magic names it seemed reminded her of two objects of devotion that were sacred to her late husband. And I too as an Iranian standing there in that gathering amongst French, English and Canadians felt a great sense of pride with every reference to Hafiz’s beloved birthplace.

What after all is in this magical word Shiraz that makes everyone sit up and take notice? Is it the poetry, the wine or the fabulous gardens? Is it Shiraz’s proximity to the ruins of Persepolis or Cyrus’s tomb in Pasargad awakening in us a reverence for the roots of our civilized humanity? What is in Shiraz’s land and water that makes it different from any other place? It has a soil not in any way unique. The oxygen one breathes there is like any other oxygen. The trees and vegetation are not that different from those found in a land of similar climate. And still we know that Shiraz evokes in us feelings and sensations that no other place is able to.

Saul Bellow in his famous work ‘To Jerusalem and Back’ writes:

“We step into the street and my friend David Shahar, whose chest is large, takes a deep breath and advises me to do the same. The air, the very air, is thought-nourishing in Jerusalem, the Sages themselves said so. I am prepared to believe it.”

Sa’di felt the same way about Shiraz saying that the air of Shiraz can set our being on fire and Hafiz described this city as the fount of beauty and virtue. In one way I believe Shiraz excels even Jerusalem. It invites us to a salvation through a highway constructed by human sensibility without restricting our path to the dogmas of this or that particular creed. The Iranian mind can never dwell for long either on Mecca or Jerusalem without retuning to Shiraz to find the center of its broad vision and emotional stability. Iranians cannot stray long towards xenophobia and ethnocentrism, without being pulled back by the words of their Shirazi poet (Sa’di) inscribed in the entrance of the United Nations headquarters in New York:

Human beings are members of a whole,

In creation of one essence and soul.

So while one member suffers aches and grief,

The other members cannot win relief.

If we have any understanding of our moral heritage in Shiraz we cannot walk far into the snare of self-centeredness and materialism before we are reminded of Hafiz’s wise words on what ultimately matters in life:

On the emeraldine heavens it has been inscribed with gold letters:

Nothing at the end endures save loving-kindness.

And it is not by accident that Shiraz has been the site of such a poetic testimony. A city that has witnessed magnificent palaces of Kings of Kings reduced to rubble overnight, and in Hafiz’s own life changed hands several times between blood thirsty rulers, knows quite well about time’s cruel vicissitude.

All that remains is loving-kindness. This is Shiraz’s testimony. Nothing has any staying power save tenderness and humanity. Absolutely nothing. Even Shiraz itself can become an inaccessible dream, as it became at the end for Dr. Kadivar and is bound to become for many of us here in exile.

7 July 2005

Increasing Public Awareness About Iran

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

July 06, 2005
Iran va Jahan
Shaheen Fatemi

As I was about to write this week's commentary on the strange turn of events in Iran, I saw the outstanding article of Bernard-Henri Levy, the world famous French philosopher and activist in this weeks Le Point magazine. As I continued reading it, I became more and more convinced that the world has indeed changed and the Iranian democrats and liberals are no longer alone in this world. We have finally succeeded in attracting the attention of the most important opinion makers of our generation to the plight of our nation. This is a major achievement! Once people such as BHL begin to champion the cause of the Iranian people, we begin to gain the attention of decent people throughout the world. A magic force called “public opinion” is the only effective weapon that we could hope to have against the greedy political leaders of the western democracies who out of political expediency are always ready to make a deal with the devil. Once we gain the support of public opinion in these countries, we might be able to influence policy or at least make an attempt at preventing betrayal of our national interest. It is in this spirit that we should welcome BHL’s brilliant essay.

Any attempt at description of this article for our non-French speaking readers would be doomed to failure. Thus I am presenting you with my own rapid English translation in lieu of lieu of this week's commentary and strongly urge you to see the original in this week's Le Point:

A Black Week for Iran and the World
By Bernard-Henry Levy

“Chancelleries will as usual minimize it. Experts will explain that there is no religious extremism which is not diluted by the responsibility which comes with the elected office. Americans and the Israelis will be warned against the temptation of use of force. It would be said and repeated that it is urgent to hold judgment on the newly elected subject to his actions. As far as Vladimir Poutine is concerned, he has already given him his shinning seal of approval in return for petrodollars.

Let’s face the facts: Mr. Ahmadinejad is a dangerous man. His election as President of Iran is a catastrophe. Coming after the take over of the city and municipal councils and then the Parliament it should be construed as another step in the full fledge return to power of the hard-liners.

Although Ayatollah Khamenei, the ‘supreme guide of the revolution,’ has been at the helm as the successor of Khomeini, and could have the last word on major issues, the personality of Khatami, like it or not, had a moderating effect.

But now with this man, with this new President, who during the campaign declared that the supreme guide is infallible; with this newly elected who in one of his first declarations said that “the Iranian people did not make the revolution for democracy;” with this layman who starts his news conference with long prayers while his audience kiss the Koran; the hard liners have not to worry, but the reformers, the youth, the women and the intellectuals all have plenty to worry about.

Coming from the ranks of the Guardians of Revolutions and furthermore having come from a special unit which in the 80’s was in charge of ‘muscled’ interrogations and tortures, he then became a high ranking officer in a brigade in charge of what was then modestly referred to as “extraterritorial operations” which in fact was the notorious arm of external operations of commandos.

He was personally in charge of some specific missions such as the 1989 execution of Dr. Ghassemlou, the Kurdish leader in Vienna, and in an assassination project against Salman Rushdie. The new President is not the modest and pious leader described at length by the media. He is a brutal man. He is a man with blood on his hands. He is a professional killer, not very well known publicly but very familiar to the intelligence community that see him rightfully as one of the agents of International Terrorism manipulated by IRI. Before him Iran was already a terrorist state. What will happen to it with him? What would you call a country whose chief is a terrorist himself?

On the nuclear issue the new President following his election left no room for doubt. He promised that Iran under his leadership would become an exemplary powerful Islamic State. The status of nuclear power according to him is non-negotiable. And those who did not understand this unbelievable sophistry, a good example of the best collection of political bad faith, should take a s second look: “Nuclear energy is the result of scientific development of the Iranian people and no one can bar them from this path to scientific advancement ----“Add to this the hatred toward Israel which is the main ingredient of his world view; add to this a Korean (north) type hatred for America of an irresponsible leader who has no hesitation in saying that he will lead his country on the path of self-sufficiency and thus is not impressed with threats of a super power. As a result it is a second country which like Pakistan will soon have the dual threat of a dangerous weapon and the dangerous ideological baggage to go with it.

How did we get there? How did Iran about whom we were assured of irreversible progress towards democracy could all of a sudden reverse into such regression? A crocked ballot is recognized by everyone; irregularities are taken for granted; hundreds of disqualified candidates, of course. All of this would not have been sufficient if it were not for one additional underestimated factor.

The Iranian State has been and remains a totalitarian state. The Iranian society has been ruled by one of those ideologies of which Solijenitsyne said they are the hallmark of fascism. For example this battalion of Pasdaran and Bassidj who have terrorized some, bribed others, beaten journalists at the entrance to the polling stations; they have proven that they are more than ever the enforcers of social conformity. When they are the kind of SA at call of the supreme guide and his new chief of staff Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The wind of freedom, the admirable resistance of the civil society, of course. But also the heritage of the first Ayatollahs and their –sinister order that we had a tendency to forget too quickly.”

6 July 2005

Hamedan (Ekbatan)

Population 1,677,957
Area 19,493 sq km
Altitude 1,749 m
Average Temperature 10.9 º C
  Hamadan province and its civilization can be said to be one of the historical and extremely ancient parts of Iran, Relics of this area confirm this fact. Hamadan Township being in the vicinity of the Alvand Mountains has a cold, mountainous climate, with snowy winters and short mild summers. The city of Hamadan is the center of the province and is at a distance of 337 km. from Tehran.

The structures of city are related to 'Diya Aku' one of the monarchs of the Medes, about (700 BC.). According to the records of a reputed Greek historian, this territory was called 'Ekbatan' and 'Hegmataneh' by this monarch. Thus being transformed into a huge capital, which was later reconstructed by Darius The Great. The city of Hamadan lay on the 'Silk Road'.

The average temperature of the province is 10.9°C, whilst the maximum temperature in August is 24.2°C, and the minimum in February is –0.8°C.
  [ Attractions ]
Ganjname relief, Stone Lion Sq., Ekbatan hill & Museum, Buali Mausoleum & Museum, Baba Taher Mausoleum, Astero Mordkhai Temple, Alavian Dome, Ali-Sadr Cave (70 km), Nushijan Fire Temple (near Malayer city)

(From top Photo: 1.Ganjname relief, 2.Astero Mordkhai temple, 3.Ali-Sadr cave(70km))

4 July 2005

Cimetiere de Thiais Posted by Picasa

Cimetiere de Passy, 11 June 2005 Posted by Picasa

Farhad's grave, Cimetiere de Thiais, 30 June 2005 Posted by Picasa