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'Thank You'

29 Jun 2009 18:3636 Comments
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From Iran | 29 June 2009

I was nine and we were watching a movie on then-banned VHS. It was a harrowing tale of a woman and her daughter's escape from a savage country. I remember asking my father, "Where is this?" "'Iran,'" he said. I couldn't believe it; the Iran I had grown up in was nothing like that movie, Not Without My Daughter, which painted such a demonized picture of Iran that I couldn't even recognize it.

In later years, while living in London, I found myself explaining my culture to people all the time. Some didn't even have the slightest idea where Iran was. My conversations at the local pub usually went like this, "No, not Iraq -- Iran," or, "No, we don't speak Arabic; we speak Farsi," or even worse, "No, we don't live in a tent!" For some, Iran was summarized in jokes and myths about the "Ayatollahs." It really disturbed me when it occurred to me that the general perception of Iran was not that different from that of Not Without My Daughter.

Ever since the revolution and especially after the hostage crisis, the western media, unconsciously perhaps, pictured Iran as a hostile, threatening country with uncivilized people. The western media were not alone in this; they had an accomplice in the Iranian government, who embraced this villain-ized picture of Iran. To them, the more alienated the world was from the true Iran, the less they cared about what goes on in the country. In fact, it was not until its secret nuclear facilities were discovered that western governments took a real interest in Iran.

I remember September 11, 2001. I remember watching TV all day worried and sad. I remember holding candlelight vigils with my friends for the victims. Then George W. Bush went on to declare us as one of the "Axis of Evil." I remember asking myself, "Why?" Not a single one of the terrorists was Iranian, and I wondered why he didn't bother to make a distinction between the government and the people. In fact, in all of the Middle East I don't think there is a more pro-American nation than Iran, but no one made such a distinction. Consequently, the Iranian people were viewed with an aura of suspicion in every airport and embassy around the world for the rest of the Bush administration.

But all of that unfounded negative stereotyping came to an end when, in the aftermath of the elections, the nation stood up to the manipulative authorities and separated its account from that of the government. We shattered the stereotype with the amateur photos and videos taken with our own mobile phones. We captured the true picture of the Iranian nation and relayed it to the world, a picture of a young and highly educated nation yearning to be free.

Now I must tell the people of the world: Thank you! To the western media: Thank you for believing in us and in our cause. To the drinkers in the pubs of London: Thank you for supporting us and for lending us your voice.

Copyright (c) 2009 Tehran Bureau

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36 Comments

Keep up the fight!

Michael from Texas / June 29, 2009 2:46 PM

Thank you! For showing the world that people can still fight for their rights and beliefs. I think we were all forgeting that.

Any thing you think we might help please advise.


Thanks for the lesson!

Mafalda / June 29, 2009 2:48 PM

Bless all of you who are getting the word out. We need to know. it is thanks to you that we do.

Peg / June 29, 2009 2:49 PM

oh my goodness this is beautifully written. I will certainly pass it on! I'm not sure what the near future holds for you people yearning for freedom and a corruption free government, but I'm positive that in the coming years, Iran will be a beautiful place, given the incredible spirit I feel from the young people of Iran. All my best wishes and hopes your way, from Western Canada.

wifemothermaniac / June 29, 2009 2:52 PM

great article, shared with all friends and family on the west coast.

iranmapnews / June 29, 2009 2:55 PM

Thank you for this insight! I'm sure the people of Iran can see that the misrepresentation goes both ways: just the same way that George Bush didn't distinguish citizens from their government, the people of the west are not like George Bush.

Andrew Vit / June 29, 2009 2:59 PM

Thank you for your remarks! I'm glad that my fellow countrymen in America are overcoming their simple stereotypes of the Iranian people. Indeed, many Americans are participating in our initiative to set up a wiki translation service for the Iranian protest movement. There is a great deal of respect among our contributors for the Iranian people and their bravery in confronting a thuggish regime. Good luck!


Jean Biche

http://translate4iran.wikispaces.com

Jean / June 29, 2009 3:04 PM

Thank you to the people of Iran who have put a "face" on the struggles that unite us all.

R_U_Nuts / June 29, 2009 3:04 PM

I have always had a completely biased perception of Iranian people. Every Iranian I have ever met here in the US has always impressed me with their intelligence, hard work, sense of humor, and explicitly stated respect and admiration for American-style liberty. I know very well that those who immigrate to the US are generally self-selected for these qualities (well, perhaps except for the humor - LOL), and I have met these Iranians at university or at work (selectivity also applies to these sites). Nevertheless, I thought I should share with you an American perspective, even though this sample has an N of 1. With love, 1in7billion.

1in7billion / June 29, 2009 3:08 PM

Thank You - for showing the world Iran

dw / June 29, 2009 3:11 PM

Right now all people of good hearts ARE Iranian. People everywhere have the right to have the government THEY chose no matter what that government may be. You have been denied that right brutally, criminally, and we wish we could help.


Often people confuse the citizens with the government and then get only a hand picked view of that. Until we "know" each other we do not see the hearts. You have shown the world your hearts and souls and now we "know" you better. You are a people with a rich, beautiful, and ancient history that the past 30 years have blinded much of the west. That is OUR loss.


The first thing this New Mexico citizen does on waking is check on sources for news from your country, for news from some tweeters I have followed (and worry for those who have disappeared). You are prayed for often during the day. Know that you are not alone and the world does care.

Kathleen Pfeiffer / June 29, 2009 3:12 PM

Thanks for these words - I have always believed in the people of Iran - as distinct from those that rule them.

lisa / June 29, 2009 3:14 PM

We are all connected :)

Susan Macaulay / June 29, 2009 3:21 PM

Beautiful, thank YOU!

Linda Goodliffe / June 29, 2009 3:24 PM

I have family in Iran, this is not my real name for obvious reasons, there quiet a few of us that understand your situation you have more support than you might imagine,


a fervent supporter.

leon / June 29, 2009 3:25 PM

Thanks for sharing this with us!


I remember that film! About the same age too. And it coloured my views of Iran and above all how it treated women aswell as religious governments.


Yes it is very unfair to portray a people the way you have been and nothing is more dispiriting and negative and unfair...but we have also seen a lack of basic human rights, hanging of gays, stoning of women, the story of the young rape victim Nazanin, people burning US flags, hijacking British sailors...and while none of that outweighs the happy success of modern culture on young people and your pro Western feelings, and some of it is down to your dictators approach to world affairs, it has also made us acutely aware of two parallels running side by side in your lives. We always wondered what you thought and wanted for your country.


The film was wrong perhaps but the stories since have often been just as frightening. We have sometimes seen, thru blogs etc, the courage and hope in women's rights activists and others shining a light and fighting hard all these years. The media failed them totally. Sometimes we got a glimpse of your modern lives too. The media failed you there too. But nothing has given the world so much hope as what is going on now: with your collective spirit and courage across all Iranians. This is about you and all your courage.


We all want for nothing than to interact with a wonderful country with a wonderful history and people. With a government which guarantees it's people's success and choices through equal rights. It would be great to hear what it is you want for the future of your country?


Best wishes and stay courageous.

AF / June 29, 2009 3:26 PM

Maybe President Bush did not make it clear that it was the government of Iran that was evil, but we Americans know that the Iranian people are good and kind people. Why do you think we never considered attacking Iran? Because we believed that the Iranian people should be the ones to bring change, not American forces. Perhaps that was lost in translation to people. We did attack two other countries, and that is another debate for another day. I believe in the Iranian people and their right to determine their own destiny. God Bless you all. I pray for you all.

tcmora1953 / June 29, 2009 3:29 PM

Thank you to all Iran people for showing us in America how much our freedom here really means and how to stand up and keep it. I honor your people for the bravery, faced with adversities beyond our imagination. NO we are not all Bush here in America, and we are also not all Obama either. maybe someday we can all stop being so selfish and look at each other as friends.

jill / June 29, 2009 3:32 PM

This is such a good little eassay. I was 20 when the ayatollaha came to power. I feel like Iran was hidden from the world by their government. You mention a "banned" VHS, which pretty much says it all. May the isolation come to an end and may your light shine!

Janet / June 29, 2009 3:37 PM

Thank you all too. You are the ones taking the risks for a better, equal, safeguarded, open and maybe even secular future. We watch in awe of you.


By the way, US movies always portray everyone else as evil and them as great to greater or lesser degrees of the film you mention. It's what they do best. The power of film to 'speak' and influence, when you consider it, is amazing.


I wish there was more balance in the views which shape US media culture, tackle other countries histories and legacies through film and newspapers.


Most historical film attempts to portray a single sided view and then posit that as speaking the whole truth and nothing but, when it is often FAR from the case.

James / June 29, 2009 3:42 PM

I am buoyed by your passion to promote human rights even at this high price. It is because you are an educated people that your protest won't be put down. Even now there is a leader among you who (if Mousavi cannot) will step up to organize and focus the masses in a direction that will ultimately achieve democracy or whatever form of government the people choose. Know that many millions in the US are behind you, sending our best energy and will do whatever else we can.

Julie M / June 29, 2009 3:43 PM

I would like to say that I was and still am ashamed that my former government painted the Iranian people in such broad strokes. Luckily for us here in America we have the option to change that government when it no longer serves our interests as people. All around the world you will find the same people, regardless of religious belief, ethnicity, or nationality. In all nations there are the ignorant and the afraid, those poor souls who know only a small world and have either not had the opportunity or the will to learn about the larger world. For every one of those people though there are many more who do not see ideological differences as polarizing agents and who do not fear that which they do not understand. This is true both in the US and in Iran. As a US citizen I hope one day that I will be able to travel to Iran and learn more about the culture and the people, but I have never feared the people of Iran and I have never feared the Iranian government despite their hatred of my government. The US government has a long way to go in proving it's good will to the Iranian people, especially after decades of interference in your sovereign affairs. We are all citizens of this planet and if nothing else I want the Iranian people to know that I weep for the violence leveled against you by your own government and I cheer with the same voice when I see the footage of the brave people who are willing to stand up and protest and to those who are willing to shelter these so called "dissidents". If anyone from Iran is reading this, and I hope and pray that you are able, I want you to know that I love you as my brothers and sisters. I love you as one of the People of the Book and that this is your fight but that the entire world stands behind you in spirit even if we dare not intervene on your behalf.

William K Styers / June 29, 2009 4:03 PM

Neda is now the face of Iran

Holly / June 29, 2009 4:07 PM

Keep the strugle going I know a few people how strugle for the iranian people to. Me to on my own smal way. Succes.

Henk from Belgium / June 29, 2009 4:11 PM

Thank you for the eye opening article; it is absolutely correct that Iran is viewed this way. If it is that different, it makes me hate the media even more for their portrayal of your country.

Keep up the good fight, obtaining your freedom is costing so many Iranian lives that I can't help but believe it will succeed. It just feels like failure is inevitable without help from the outside.

I hope Canadians will see this as something that they should at least boycott Nokia-Siemens for, what else can we do?

God be with you and let his protection be with the freedom fighters.

Jeremy / June 29, 2009 4:31 PM

WE WANT IRANIANS TO BE FREE, GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF YOU.

Ron / June 29, 2009 4:32 PM

You were warned that this day would come. Any government based solely on religious principles can never permit freedom of expression or allow anything out of its control to occur. Any government that would permit the seizing of an embassy never has the interests of its people in mind.


I wish you great luck and support your views. I do hope, however, that when you do come to power, you don't repeat the mistakes of the government you're opposing. Stop the executions, stop the murders, stop arresting people who pose no threat but disagree with you. Stop arresting and persecuting people of different faiths (Bah'ais) (or at least remove the article of your constitution that enshrines religious discrimination as a state policy).


Good luck.

John Mark / June 29, 2009 4:32 PM

May democracy & freedom prevail for you and your people. You will continue to be in my prayers.

sybil / June 29, 2009 5:11 PM

I'm an American.


I have always understood that the Iranian people


were rather interesting (in a cool sort of way).


I always knew that there was a major disticntion


between the people and their Government.


I don't really know to much about Iran (Persia).


Have thot often that it must be both nice and


inhibting to live in a location which has so much


History. After all, you all live or have lived in


the craddle of civilization; and all that.


I was extremly embarrassed that Mr. Bush said what


he said. You might understand theword "Humilated"


better. I am very sorry he say that. But, as we


know, Mr. Bush's administration was not really


equited to to handle the things which he had to


deal with. An unfortunated condition of timming.


I do Hope that You all find You ways through this


period, without getting to many of Your people


Beaten up or injured or worst. It seems to me


that You Home has become a Police State. I sucks


because that is the oppsite of what you want


and/or need. You are a young and Modern people


now-a-days. The old, oppressive ways will not


serve you very well. I am impressed with how


bright, enthusiastic and intelligent You are; that


makes me smile, because that means your oppressor


don't really understand what a force that they


are up aganist.


It is important to remember that during this


Great period of change for you, that when you


gain your freedon, you will still need to run


your country. You will need places to sleep, and


food to eat and all that every day stuff. without


those essential thing, recovery will be more


painful and difficult.


I am following your progress with my Heart open


for all of you.


Do what you have to do; but do it with intelligence, and wisdom.


Do be smart, but please don't be foolish.


Pick your battles well.


Choose when and where to fight and take a stand.


Don't let "Then" do that for you.


GodSpeed, Many of us like and love you and


are carring you in our Hearts and Minds...


With Love and Respect


Kay


:)

Kay / June 29, 2009 5:19 PM

I don't support Mousavi, he is no friend to the U.S. but I do support your right to a fair election and your right to protest without being beaten, jailed or killed. You are in my prayers.

Peggy / June 29, 2009 7:15 PM

I hope you all get your rights. Human rights are a universal need. I have some Persian friends here in the US, and they are such wonderful intellectual people. May Freedom ring. We ourselves are cheered by a new day under Obama.

donna s / June 29, 2009 8:02 PM

Between any two countries, there can be friction and conflicts of interest. That's to be expected even among the closest of allies.


Iran and the U.S. don't have to be enemies, even if we disagree. It's high time rifts from the past, based on actions taken by people who are mostly dead now, are healed and a new generation inherits its world.

Jonathan / June 29, 2009 9:40 PM

I am moved by the courage and resolve of the people of Iran. Everyone I know believes in your right to an honest election and self determination.

Roberto Quezada / June 29, 2009 10:07 PM

be arzooye didane irane azizeman ,irane azad az har goone badbachty,irane por eftechar,irani ke man dar an be donya amadam,va bozorg shodam,irani ke 26 sal az an dur hastam,irani ke baraye an jan midaham,be omide movafaghiate javanan pake iran,susan.

susan / June 30, 2009 3:39 PM

May Iran soon see the freedoms that we Americans often take for granted.


With upmost respect for your choice to be a serious journalist.


Gina, in Hawai'i


Linked you to my Facebook page - hope some donations come your way via it.

Gina Kohman / July 5, 2009 10:39 PM

I've been interested in all that has occurred in the past and present.

My heart goes out to the people of Iran who wish for a free society.

If only a separation of church & state could happen it would change attitudes of all, given a chance.

I wish you and yours the focus necessary to accomplish that which needs to happen.

I, in my 60's and soon to retire gives pause to my being lucky enough to be born in the U.S.A.

I hope (in the time I have left on this earth) that I will see freedom for all in Iran.

God bless you all !!!


Yours truly


Richard

Salem, Oregon

Richard / July 6, 2009 8:05 PM