With regard to Iran, there are two more reasons to give the Turkish referendum proper attention. Like in Turkey, current political debates in Iran are centered on ‘democratization’, ‘secularism’ and ‘religion’. Moreover, Turkey is an important point of reference for political thought in Iran since at least the early 20th century
The rise of the culture of death that we are witnessing today in our societies is an infallible sign that many in the West and elsewhere have given up the project to think and to feel responsible toward the concept of “humanity” which transcends them or even to sacrifice, in the extreme, life itself to that which makes life meaningful. In short, I cannot overcome the impression that Western culture is threatened far more by itself than by Islamic fundamentalism.
There is a chronic lack of transparency and a dizzying complexity of power relations within the Iranian state. This labyrinthine form of networks that together make up Iranian politics is in my view no coincidence.
When I was a child, wearing T-shirts (with short sleeves) and jeans and using gel was forbidden at school. If we didn’t obey the rules, we had to go to the manager’s office and he punished us.
The driver continues while shaking his head: “God bless the Shah! What a stupid mistake we made!” I now mingle myself in the conversation. “You didn’t expect this situation. It wasn’t a mistake at first, the Revolution is not a sudden accident or a point.
Many of Tagore’s views on nationalism, education and dialogue of cultures are intellectually valid, and some off his ideas have attracted and influenced contemporary thinkers and writers both in India and abroad. But let us ask the question: What relevance does Tagore have to us “post-moderns” as we live the first decade of the new millennium?
The following is based on an unpublished essay, and on several conversations, in which Victor Kal, who teaches philosophy at Amsterdam University, claims in a nutshell that a theocracy can only flourish in a liberal democracy and a liberal democracy only thanks to theocratically orientated citizens. Has this philosopher lost himself in abstract thoughts and gone mad?
There is one power the Iranian regime can’t win its battle with: the Internet. In the past, censorship used to be primarily aimed at writers, poets and journalists, because the regime knows that life in a dictatorship makes the pen mightier than the sword. In our day and age however, the Internet has made everyone a writer.
As odd as it may sound, reading philosophy in Tehran can not only be spiritually comforting, but also politically empowering. It is an open challenge to the monologism of tyrannical thought, but it is also an invitation to become a responsibly dialogical self in a culture that has systematically sheltered itself from the Socratic task of learning through asking questions and “living in truth”.
In a contest of violence against violence, the Green Movement would be doomed. Its only chance is a contest of state violence against the power of people acting in concert. Violence could still be effective and destroy the power generated by the Green Movement, but violence can never create the power that is necessary to legitimize good governance. Even if the Green Movement loses its momentum, and its power, it should not drink from the cup of viciousness to satisfy the great thirst for freedom: violence can never be a real substitute for power.
Art reflects life, so I believe it is no coincidence that birds play such a big part in Iranian culture. Look at a bird in the sky. It is free, and freedom is what Iranians have been struggling for since many centuries already.
In Iran, people constantly have to lie. I believe that the schizophrenia this has caused is the biggest crime of the Islamic regime against its people. It is tragic that all Iranians have to create a fake copy of their true self.
The central question addressed to Islamists in particular and to the Muslim world in general is to know the ways in which they can come to terms with their own experience of modernity, because modernity is more and more an intrinsic value and a lived practice.
I prefer the edge: the place where countries, communities, allegiances, affinities, and roots bump uncomfortably up against one another – where cosmopolitanism is not so much an identity as the normal condition of life. To be sure, there is something self-indulgent in the assertion that one is always at the edge, on the margin. Such a claim is only open to a certain kind of person exercising very particular privileges. Most people, most of the time, would rather not stand out: it is not safe.
Shirin Neshat has worked six years to finish her movie Women without men, a long and difficult process that she described as giving birth, and its delivery comes at a time where Iranians are, once again, highly sensitive to political content. Today, Iranian artists have no real choice to act otherwise. If politics cannot be avoided, then they are forced to seek a balance between political content and artistic form, with its own, usually sensible, content.
All in all, Europeans generally feel that Iran is a country that has nothing to do with Europe and never really had in the past. The contrary however is true. Europe and Iran have a long shared history. A lot has been written about the recent European (British) interference in Iran, but I want to focus on the beauty that our shared past has brought about.
Iran’s Green Movement’s politics of hope goes against Hirsi Ali’s defeatism and her mantra of clash between the West and the world of islam. Neda Agha Soltan, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard are bad news for Hirsi Ali, and that is why she keeps ignoring them when commenting on Islam and the West.
Ann De Craemer, English editor at TehranReview, travelled through Iran in June 2009, following the track of the famous Trans-Iranian Railway. She has written a book about her journey which will be presented to the public today. Title of her book is Duizend-en-een dromen. Een reis langs de Trans-Iraanse Spoorlijn (Thousand-and-one dreams. A journey along the Trans-Iranian Railway).
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a good friend of Gandhi one of the most influential tolerant Muslims, has left a deep impact on the idea of pluralism in Islam. He will not only be remembered in the history of India for the role he played in the national liberation movement of the country, but will also be considered as a Muslim leader who stood for a dialogue among Muslims and Hindus. He fully recognized the humanist element in religion.
Women like Shirin Ebadi, Shirin Neshat, Shadi Sadr, Neda Agha Soltan and Azar Nafisi have become symbols of the worldwide struggle for women’s rights and emancipation. On this International Women’s Day, they deserve more than ever to be honored.