Archive for the 'Miscellaneous' Category

Iran – Facts and Figures

Ben S. on Apr 25th 2012


Here is a link to the CIA World Factbook’s page on Iran. It provides an overview of the country, and includes an extensive list of facts and figures, ranging from Iran’s history, geography, people and society, to its government, economy, and infrastructure.


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The Iranian Oskar Schiendler

bkyser on Apr 21st 2012

Abdol-Hossein Sardari, better known as the Iranian Oskar Schiendler, earned this title for the 2,000 Iranian Jews that he helped save during World War II. Sardari, who is Muslim, served as a diplomat in Paris during the rise of the Nazis. He was able to save many Iranian Jews by issuing them the new-style Iranian passports needed to prove that they were Iranian and to return to Iran. The Nazis did not consider Iranian Jews to be like European Jews, because they Nazis deemed them as part of the Aryan nation. Sardari told the Nazis that the Iranian Jews were different from the European Jews by creating his own sect, the “Mousaique,” who followed Moses, and who were not part of the Jewish race. Sardari’s work has been so influential that the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles has recognized him for his work. Read more here.

“Here you have a Muslim Iranian who goes out of his way, risks his life, certainly risks his career and property and everything else, to save fellow Iranians” -Fariborz Mokhtari

Brian Wheeler, “The ‘Iranian Schindler’ who saved Jews from the Nazis,” British Broadcasting Company, December 20, 2011, (accessed April 21, 2012).

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The Iranian-American Relationship from 1923 until Today

bkyser on Apr 15th 2012

This New York Times article traces the evolution of the relationship between Iran and the United States from 1923 until today. This article emphasizes the nuclear program in Iran and the United States’ involvement with this program. Here is a summary of the article, beginning in 1923.

In 1923, a man named Arthur Millspaugh went to Iran from the United States. He was an economic advisor who was sent to help Iran, a country that was seen as “hampered by administrative inefficiency.” He left Iran in 1928. Flash forward 30 years to 1953 and the United States becomes involved with the coup d’etat of Mohammad Mossadegh. This leads to the first real intervention of the United States in Iranian affairs and is often cited as the root to many of the areas of contention between the two nations today. This coup got ride of Prime Minister Mossadegh and placed the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, into power. In 1957, Iran and the United States join in on a deal, titled, Iran-United States Agreement for Cooperation Concerning Civil Uses of Atomic Energy as part of President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program. Under this plan the United States gave Iran uranium. Later, in 1968, Iran signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Throughout the Shah’s rule, he receives praise from different American presidents, from Kennedy to Carter, who view him in a positive light for upholding Iran in an unstable neighborhood.

After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran undergoes many changes, and naturally, so to does its nuclear program and its relationship with the United States. In February 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini returns from exile and immediately calls for an end to all foreign invasion in Iran. This leads to the removal of 1,350 Americans from Iran. In November of that same year, militants also known as “students” occupy the American Embassy in Tehran and hold the hostages captive for 444 days. The students held these Americans captive in demanding for the Shah to return from the United States to Iran to face trial. On July 27, 1980, the Shah passes away in Egypt.

September 21, 1980 is the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War, which begins with Iraq’s invading of Iran. A major area of Iran that experiences a large amount of conflict is the Shatt al-Arab waterway. This war occupies much of the mindset of Iran for the next eight years. The war ends on July 18, 1988 after both Iran and Iraq agree to a cease-fire (United Nations Security Council Resolution 598). An estimated 1 million people are dead as a result of the war.

In 1987, Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, is reported to have shared his research with Iran and other countries such as North Korea and Libya. Iran and Russia go on to sign a nuclear contract in 1995 calling for the development of a nuclear power plant in Bushehr. As a result of Iran’s nuclear aspirations, President Clinton issues sanctions against all companies with investments in Iran in 1996 as part of his initiative to stop the spread of terrorism. In August 2002, the Muhajeddin (M.E.K.) release pictures of a uranium enrichment plant and a heavy water plant. After accusations from the United States, Iran agrees to an inspection from the Atomic Energy Authority.

In 2004, Iran agreed to halt its nuclear program. However, in 2006, the United Nations Security Council issued sanctions to curb the nuclear program. And in 2009, President Obama calls for international inspections in Iran. In 2010, the United States agreed to more sanctions issued against Iran’s nuclear program. The sanctions are intended to hinder military purchases and financial transactions carried out by the Revolutionary Guards Corp. The bombing on January 11, 2012, that killed Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a supervisor at the Natanz nuclear plant, leads to more friction between the United States and Iran as the United States and Israel are blamed for this attack.

JEFFERY DelVISCIO, DIANTHA PARKER, DAVID FURST, JEFF ROTH, JON HUANG and ARTIN AFKHAMI, “Iran, the United States and a Nuclear Seesaw,” The New York Times, April 13, 2012, (accessed April 15, 2012).

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Jewish Legacies in Iran

bkyser on Apr 2nd 2012

In this article, Jewish Iranian-American author, Roya Hakakian, discusses the issue of a future war between Iran and Israel. She makes reference to the achievements in industrialization in Iran that are a result of the design and labor of two prominent Jewish families, the Nazarians and the Elghanians. The Nazarians are credited for the sewage system and laying the groundwork for many of the plans that have developed the city of Isfahan. The Elghanians are known for designing and building high-rise buildings in Tehran.

Hakakian also mentions that 20,000 Jews live in Iran today making Iran home to the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside of Israel. The prospect of a future war between Israel and Iran, in Hakakian’s view, would be degrading and ignoring the contributions that each of these cultures has brought to each other. Looking at history, Cyrus the Great served as a savior figure for the Jewish people by giving them a home in Babylon. Also, during the Holocaust, many Jews left France through the help of Abdol-Hossein Sardari, the head of Iran’s diplomatic mission to France. Today, in Iran, as a result of this mission, there are Polish cemeteries where the descendants of Polish immigrants to Iran still go to pay their respects.

Roya Hakakian, “What Two Enemies Share,” The New York Times, February 25, 2012, (accessed April 2, 2012).

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Timeline of Modern Iran

bkyser on Mar 2nd 2012

Here is a chronological timeline of Modern Iran, beginning in 1921 with the end of the Qajar Dynasty. It includes important dates in Iran’s history up until 2009. Some of the important dates that are included are the changing of the name of Persia to Iran in 1935, the coup of Mohammed Mossadeq in 1953, and the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989. The timeline goes all of the way up until Ahmadinejad’s second election victory in 2009.

PBS, “Key Events in Iran Since 1921,” PBS News, February 11, 2010, (accessed March 2, 2012).

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Iran in Maps

bkyser on Feb 23rd 2012

Here is a link to a BBC interactive webpage featuring maps of Iran. These maps show you where nuclear sites are located, where different ethnic groups within Iran live, and the size of the population in Iran’s major cities.

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Iran Through Pictures

bkyser on Feb 20th 2012

Here is yet another great photo essay of Iran, featuring pictures from today’s Iran. The pictures provide an interesting mix of tradition and modernity and even feature pictures from Iran’s small Jewish community. Enjoy!

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Evin Prison: Iran’s Most Notorious Jail

bkyser on Feb 20th 2012

Here is an article from BBC about Evin Prison, the most notorious jail in Iran. This jail is most famous for housing opponents against the Shah and the SAVAK before the 1979 Revolution. However, after the revolution, the categories of the prisoners changed from opponents of the Shah to supporters of the Shah who were viewed as anti-revolutionary. This article looks at the women’s section of the jail, where there are currently about 375 women in jail and 2,575 men. This is the same jail where Shirin Ebadi, Human Rights Activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was housed. Evin Prison is famous for its use of torture and other harsh methods towards its prisoners. This article, however, looks at the daily struggles that the women are currently facing, including suffering from HIV/AIDS and raising their children from jail. Evin Prison allows for children under the age of three to stay with their mothers.

Frances Harrison, “Inside Iran’s Most Nortorious Jail,” British Broadcasting Company, June 14, 2006, (accessed February 20, 2012).


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Salman Rushdie Fatwa

bkyser on Feb 20th 2012

Here is a documentary about the fatwa that was issued by Ayatollah Khomeini to Salman Rushdie on February 14, 1989 because of his book The Satanic Verses, which was published in 1988. Salman Rushdie is a native of Bombay, India and grew up in a liberal Muslim family, however he grew up in Britain. He studied Islamic History at Cambridge University where he first came in contact with the satanic verses associated with the Prophet Muhammad. According to these satanic verses, Muhammad was tricked by the devil into a compromise. Muhammad agreed that the people of Mecca could continue to worship their pagan gods and goddesses since they were having a hard time grasping the concept of a religion with only one god. Muhammad told these stories to Gabriel, who dismissed them, and decided that they should not be included in the Qu’ran. Many Muslims, however, do not believe that these stories actually took place.

In The Satanic Verses, Rushdie’s main character is named Mahound, which is a derogatory termed used for the Prophet Muhammad. This name has origins from the Crusades when the Crusaders referred to Muhammad with this name. The meaning of Mahound is “false prophet.” Rushdie renames the city of Mecca to Jahilia, which comes from the Arabic word “jahiliyya” which means the “age of ignorance,” or rather pre-Islam. In this book Rushdie also write about a brother where all of the twelve women share the same names as the twelve wives of the Prophet Muhammad. There is also a character named Salman, who may be an autobiographical character on behalf of Salman Rushdie, who doubts Muhammad’s revelations.

Immediately after publishing this book, Rushdie received criticism and warnings from his friends. One commentator in the documentary who is also a friend of Rushdie’s said, “say anything you want about God, but be aware of saying anything about the Prophet Muhammad.” Protests starting occurring all over South Asia after the publication, including in Islamabad, Pakistan, where five protestors were killed outside of the American Cultural Center. In response to the international protests and outrage, Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, issued a fatwa on February 14, 1989, against Salman Rushdie calling for his death as well as for the death of the publishers of the book and anyone involved with it. In response to this, Britain provided Rushdie with his own personal bodyguard. Britain feared that the British Muslim community would heed the call of Ayatollah Khomeini. This idea came from the fact that Muslims the world over supported the fatwa and were united in their acceptance and respect of Khomeini’s decision. There were two Muslim leaders, however, in Belgium, who spoke out against the fatwa and were later found dead. Iran declared a “Day of Mourning” for the people who had died in the protests over The Satanic Verses and more than 10,000 Iranians took to the streets. The British Embassy in Iran was surrounded and trash was thrown at the building, however, nobody was hurt. Nine days after the fatwa was issued all European diplomats withdrew from Iran.

The fatwa greatly impacted Rushdie’s life. He and his family never stayed in one house for more than one night. Translators of The Satanic Verses were also being attacked throughout the world. The Japanese translator was found stabbed and the Italian translator was also found seriously wounded. However, after the death of Ayatollah Khomeini on June 3, 1989, Rushdie believed that his life might gain some normalcy back. One of the major problems with Khomeini’s death was that the only person who had the authority to change the fatwa was dead. He had taken the fatwa with him to the grave. Khomeini’s successor, Ayatollah Khamenei, renewed the fatwa. In order to ease the burden that was now placed on his life, Rushdie agreed to convert to Islam. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was one of many people who helped Rushdie with this matter. Over time, Iranian and British negotiations ensued and Iran eventually released a statement declaring that the Iranian Government would not take any actions against the life of Salman Rushdie. In 2007, Salman Rushdie was offered Knighthood in Britain. This decision once again led to more protests against his new status as a Knight.


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A Photo Essay from Pre-Revolutionary Iran

bkyser on Feb 17th 2012

Here is a link to a great photo essay picturing photos from Iran before 1979. With each picture the photographer provides you with information about the photo. Among the photos are pictures of Iranian women, wearing clothes and hairstyles similar to those in the West at the time. There is also a picture of the construction of the Shahyad landmark of Tehran, which the photographer refers to as “the Eiffel Tower of Tehran.”

Cara Parks, “Once Upon a Time in Tehran,” Foreign Policy, February 15, 2012, (accessed February 17, 2012).

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