Sunday, January 15, 2006

Sunnis and Shias, Iranian nukes and American bullies... and CENSORSHIP

I had a very interesting class tonight. It was our first meeting since Eid, so we wished each other a Happy Eid and then the talked about how another big Eid is coming up... Eid ul Ghadir. It's going to be this Thursday. This is a very important Eid for Shia Muslims. AliBob will explain it in further detail.

Anyway, I didn't know it was coming up, even though I knew of it. So Mrs. Mirmohammadi said that AliBob probably knows and I said yes, but I'll tell him just in case he doesn't realize it's this Thursday. So the other ladies said, if he's Shia, he'll know, and then, noticing I didn't know about Eid al Ghadir they asked me if I was Shia or Sunni and I told them that I was Sunni.

They nodded understanding and proceeded to ask me about Sunni holidays. They asked, aside from the two Eids (Fitr and Adha) which ones do we have in Sunni tradition that are important. I had no idea. I didn't really grow up with any other Eids. Later on, AliBob told me that most Sunni countries celebrate the birthday of the Prophet. I think I may have when I was younger, but my family hasn't in years.

So we launched into a discussion of Shia and Sunni unity and they said that it's so weird to hear about Sunnis and Shias killing each other in Pakistan or Shias being picked on in other countries, since here in Iran, they're like brothers. They pray together, they live together, they stick up for each other. In fact, the Iranian government has been known to jail people who spread anti-Sunni propaganda, and it has banned their writings as well. I'm not saying there aren't Shias here who might not like Sunnis (can't always blame them either), but especially since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Shias and Sunnis here have coexisted in peace and harmony.

The ladies talked about how despite being Shia or Sunni, they have a common bond of being Muslims and if they were united, the Muslim world would be a lot more successful... and it also wouldn't be stuck under America and the West's thumb. How true... on both counts.

Also, parts of Iran have Sunnis in the majority and it hasn't caused any problems.

Anyway, it was fun, talking about it without insults or accusations or any of the rest of it. Let's hope Sunnis and Shias everywhere can learn a thing or two from Iran.

This leads me to my next point. The whole Nuclear Issue. No one is really a big fan of nuclear weapons... and I'm not going to argue that we should all be allowed to run around with h-bombs. What's annoying is that countries like the US and those in Western Europe are trying to tell everyone else how to conduct their business. It's unfair that all these countries pursue nuclear technology, whatever the reasons may be, and that the US is the only one that has actually used a nuclear weapon--twice-- and yet it still has the audacity to tell Iran that it's wrong.

The American government has done itself such a big disservice by alienating Iran. Iran has so much to offer, firstly things like vast reserves of oil, but also a more moderate and progressive Muslim voice... current leadership aside. The more the US pisses Iran off, the more standoffish the Iranian government will be. When was the last time the US allowed itself to be bullied by anyone? We are taught that bullies are bad, so why is it okay for the US government to bully its way through international relations?

That said, I'm not a fan of the official satus quo here*, and it seems that most people here aren't either. The silly "the holocaust never happened" bit really didn't help matters, to say the least. Another brilliant one was the banning of western music. People still play it, in fact, no one even takes this stuff seriously. I still see TV commercials with American songs, just without the words (most recently it was the instrumental muzak version of "Killing Me Softly").

But a country is a sovereign entity, and as such, has a right to do almost (short of the obvious no-no's like mass murder and any sort of injustice otherwise) whatever the hell it wants to do for the good of its own country. America does whatever it wants, and it allows its buddy countries to do what they want. Literally, America really does what it wants regardless of approval or disapproval from the international community, so again, why does America have the right to control what another country does? At least be the role model, will you??

Yes yes.. the world needs a babysitter and America is the self-appointed policing force, but is it any wonder that people all over don't trust America to be an objective policing force? It's not objective. Its hypocritical double standards and selective policy enforcing just undermine its credibility as anything other than evil, imperialistc and backstabbing.

Let's encourage democracy and rights for all while we whittle away at the rights of our own people. Let's sanction some bad governments and be best friends with other equally bad governments. Let's punish some people for violating UN resolutions while we look the other way when others violate the same resolutions. Let's spy on our own people without their knowledge or consent while babbling on about our right to privacy.

Anyway, what's most annoying is that if the American government paid attention, it would realize it's not all that hard to befriend Middle Eastern countries, especially Iran. In fact, what's interesting is that all Shia scholars, as far as we know, are unanimous in their ruling that nuclear weapons are not Islamically permissible because they inherently violate the ethics of warfare in Islam. Unless it's a matter of all of us being wiped off the face of the earth, there is no justifiable reason to conduct warfare against non-combattants.

Most Iranians are interested in the West and much of what it has to offer (except for the decadence, nudity and sexual promiscuity, I guess). They love Americans and are so curious and excited to know what Americans think of them and I'm always so embarrassed and apologetic when I have to tell them that Americans know nothing about them, and are more inclined to automatically dislike Iranians because of how the government is represented. They, being more discerning, reply that they don't like the American government but they still like Americans. I'm usually not sure how to respond so I just tell them that many Americans tend to be less educated than Iranians and in general are very unaware of the world that surrounds them and trust what their government and media tell them. The good news is that there are so many Americans who are more thoughtful and reflective, so that's always appreciated and a happy ending.

It looks like the US and its cronies have a particular dislike for Iran because it's not afraid of them. I appreciate it when a country doesn't cower under American domineering.. though I suppose I understand why sometimes, it just can't afford to stick up for itself. What's particularly ironic or funny or sad is that Bush and other world leaders are basically the same... 2 sides of one coin.. "you're with us or against us" types.

A result of 30 years of American sanctions here is that Iran has learned to be quite self sufficient, much like India and its long-time policy of self-reliance. They are able to sustain themselves and manufacture most of what they need internally... like polyurethane gloves for people with latex allergies. I know it's random, but I just found it so interesting.

There are lots of foreign (particularly European and Japanese) imports too, like L'Oreal, Pantene, Nivea, Gillette, etc. These, of course, cost a pretty penny, but they're available to those who want it. They have all the technology stuff available, as well as all kinds of kitchen appliances too... I made sure to check on the kitchen appliances bit.

Speaking of which, I have learned to live without a microwave. It's not that bad. In fact, it would be fine if I had more pots and pans in which to heat stuff up *and* cook.

*So I had included some blatant opinions on certain world leaders and my dear hubby unposted my post because apparently here, bloggers whose opinions aren't in line with the party sogan tend to be jailed. So, in order to ensure that AliBob will be able to continue with his research without any unpleasantness, I have modified/removed some of my comments.


Blogger huma said...

you're adorable -- make sure you can get back in the country, will you.

3:00 AM  

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