So in Case You Were Wondering about the Names

What the hell On the Margin of Error is supposed to even mean? And do I have a reason for choosing Kaveh Mousavi as my pseudonym? Do these questions trouble your mind and haunt your dreams since this blog started yesterday?

What, no? OK then, I guess I’ll go ahead and answer them anyway.

On the Margin of Error is a bit of a personal title. It refers to one of my many rows with my counselor in the high school, who was trying to force me to pray.

“This school is for Muslims. You should go and study in an atheist school.” He said.

“There are no atheist schools in Iran.” I said.

“That’s true, because there are no atheists in Iran.”

“Then what about me?” I protested.

“There are so few of you that you do not affect the ultimate statistical outcome. You are on the margin of error.”

 So, as you can see, this is how I should introduce myself:

he-is-errorBut seriously, that stayed with me, until today. It was always a moment that epitomized what it means to be an atheist in Iran. They are not content with refusing you all the civil rights, not content with persecuting you for your crime of thought, they even don’t acknowledge that you exist. The whole society is shaped in a way to accommodate the religious. “We are all Muslims” is fact that nobody disputes. Whenever things like mandatory hijab are discussed, people begin it with “well, we are all Muslims.” Even seculars while defending secularism are like “of course we are all Muslims”. When people discuss minorities they exclude atheists. The opposition include Baha’is, (and they must), but they exclude us most of the times.

And people act like it too. Whenever I out myself to someone, their first reaction is to say “but you surely believe in something”. Some say “I consider you a Muslim even if you don’t”. The point is, the Iranian regime and society simply wants to ignore that atheism is possible, an option.

Now, why Kaveh Mousavi? The first name comes from a mythical Iranian figure. Kaveh the blacksmith was a blacksmith (duh) who was an ordinary person who rose against a ruthless tyrant, Zahak, and kicked him out. It’s the first democratic revolution in the Iranian lore. Ferdowsi narrates his story in his epic Shahnameh. Mousavi comes from Mir-Hossein Mousavi who is the leader of the Green Movement, placed under house arrest. He would have had a heart attack if he had seen my blog, since he’s deeply religious. But I still admire him as the only possible leader of the Iranian pro-democracy movement, as the man who can unite seculars and reformists and the liberals and the moderates. (And atheists. Let’s include those as well).

By the way, if you are curious about anything, such as Iran, feel free to leave a comment here and ask. It doesn’t have to be related to the topic. I’d be happy to reply.

About Kaveh Mousavi

Kaveh Mousavi is the pseudonym of an atheist ex-Muslim living in Iran, subject to one of the world’s remaining theocracies. He is a student of English Literature, an aspiring novelist, and part-time English teacher. He is passionate about politics, video games, heavy metal music, and cinema. He was born at the tenth anniversary of the Islamic Revolution of Iran. He has ditched the Islamic part, but has kept some of the revolutionary spirit.

  • playonwords

    Welcome, interesting start.

    On the name, a sidelight is the Cornish rebel Michael Joseph an Gof who was also a blacksmith though unsuccessful.

  • markd555

    Looking forward to reading your blog!

    At some point int he future, I would like to hear your thoughts on the historical effect of Al-Ghazali’s “The Incoherence of the Philosophers” and the line of thinking it caused.

    • Kaveh Mousavi

      Ghazali seems to me to be one of the more complex people in the history of Islamic thought. In many ways he was very progressive – like, he was the first outspoken supporter of some-kind-of secularism. He also had a reactionary side, and that book reveals that part of him. He attacks people like Farabi and Avicenna who are progressives, and very empirical and rational (of course, in the context of their own time). It’s not only an anti-philosophy book, it’s also an anti-science book, he especially attacks math and medicine. He defends Kalam instead of philosophy, which is (and I’m very simplistic here) some kind of a hermeneutics of scriptures and hadith and tradition, which ultimately is organized into sharia.

      At that time the most reactionary forces in Islam were Asha’ereh, who believed we should literally follow Koran and hadith and even interpreting them is a sin. The most rational were Mu’tazaleh who valued rationality even above the text of Koran. Between these two extremes, both of which went extinct after a while, the real fight was between philosophers and people like Ghazali.

      As you can see, I think the historical impact of “The Incoherence of the Philosophers” was very negative. Many factors joined together and philosophy was effectively defeated too, giving sharia complete monopoly on Islamic thought. In the Iranian religious circle, it were the founders of Islamic Republic, chief among them Khomeini himself, who revived philosophy again. At that time people considered Khomeini najis (unclean), basically an apostate. Which is quite ironic, since he went on to found such a ruthless theocracy, but still it could be worse – look at Sudan, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia.

      I hope I have answered your question.

      Also, as a side note, if you’re interested in the history of Islamic thought, make sure to check Ghazali’s brother, Ahmad Ghazali. He’s the founder of Persian mysticism, and he’s extremely progressive, his view of god is more similar to pantheism rather than monotheism, and he extends tolerance towards non-Muslims, even atheists, and believes in equality between men and women. He’s also very influential, as he is the first Persian mystic, and people like Shams, Rumi, Hafiz, Attar, etc are all his disciples. He’s less famous than his brother but he’s a much more fascinating character. I have written a paper on him when I was studying MA.

      • markd555

        Thanks!

        I am sure there were other factors; but yeah it seems like his works were a major turning point for negatively affecting his own society and scientific advancement.

        “Fire does not burn the cotton, god does the burning, there is no cause but god” (paraphrase)

        I’ve always been interested in those single events that stop, or set back science for hundreds of years – so we can see the next one coming.

  • Argle Bargle

    Welcome. I look forward to reading about a culture and society I know little about.

  • Arren ›‹ neverbound

    Welcome, Kaveh. I admire your courage.

  • http://faehnri.ch/ faehnrich

    Glad to see you here, I’ll enjoy reading about atheism different from my experiences.

    Also, you make classic Nintendo references, so that’s even better.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001826206983 jeanettecorlett-black

    Welcome to FTB! To be a member of a community (especially as a young person) , to stand there, and be told you do not exist….I don’t know where you found your strength. I am really looking forward to your posts. I remember reading years ago an anthropologist who said that outsiders were the only ones in a society that had a reality-based, clear view of that society and how it truly worked.

    • Kaveh Mousavi

      It might seem strange, but I never needed to find any strength. :P From very early childhood I was very defiant, I would never listen to authority unless I was convinced. It was just my character. And I like that anthropologist quote very much.

    • Bill Gascoyne

      “The field cannot be seen from within the field.”

      Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

  • http://www.clanfield.net janiceintoronto

    Welcome to the blogs.

    I hope your high school teacher doesn’t read this blog. Please be -very- careful about your identity, we don’t want to lose you to the theocrats.

    • Kaveh Mousavi

      My high school teacher can’t read English :D plus, he wouldn’t give me away to authorities. He did try and expel me though. Didn’t succeed, because the headmaster was a moderate Muslim.

  • leftygomez

    We admire your courage and appreciate your willingness to share with us. Your background is unique at FTB, and I’m very much looking forward to your insights.

    Welcome!

  • plainenglish

    Hi Kaveh, You wrote: Some say “I consider you a Muslim even if you don’t.” Reminded me that there are those in my Christian family who insist on this same denial of my atheism. The logic seems to be that because you were raised within a particular faith, you are therefore part of that faith. This of course denies the fundamental idea of free choice in accepting (in Protestant Christianity at least) the triune God. Apparently, it is necessary to exercise a so-called free choice to get into the club to begin with but once you are there, good luck in getting out. No matter how you try to say “NO”, the group continues to include you. I have found it is fairly easy to become marginal through questioning and challenging certain issues in faith but even if I might adopt a name like Error, as you say, they still insist on including me. This phenomenon of denying freedom of choice is truly built-in to the foundations of faith, (Muslim, Christian et al) even if there is much talk of choosing, and giving your allegiance, in being saved or being obedient. If you are born inside this ‘house’, you have no choice. If you choose to say as I did, NO, I do not believe, you are considered to be denying your true self and going astray. My older brother still tells me that I know the truth in my heart because I was brought up in a preacher’s family. When I suggest to him that he is refusing me basic freedom of choice, he falls into Bible quotes. Best wishes to you, Kaveh.

  • http://strangesally.wordpress.com/ SallyStrange

    So, if I came to visit you in Iran, that would probably cause major political problems for you, right?

    Dang.

    I’ve been interested in Iran for many years. I really would like to visit there some day. I hear the food is among the best cuisines in the world.

    • Kaveh Mousavi

      Yes, the food is awesome. :D If you are seriously interested in Iran, an American cannot travel to Iran without an invitation. Also, a woman cannot stay in hotels without a male guardian such as father or husband. But if you really are interested in visiting Iran one day, let me know and I will help arrange things for you. People are very hospitable to foreign travelers.

      • http://strangesally.wordpress.com/ SallyStrange

        I am quite serious! Though, given my financial resources, it’s unlikely to happen before I’m 40 (which is 4 years away). But your offer is appreciated. That Iranians are very hospitable to travelers is also something I’ve heard.

        • Kaveh Mousavi

          Well in four years hopefully things will be much better.

    • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

      @SallyStrange (probably too late now but just in case) :

      I hear the food is among the best cuisines in the world.

      You don’t necessarily have to be in a place to enjoy its cuisine I think – I’m sure there’d be some good restaurants with genuine Iranian dishes outside of Iran itself with plenty to offer on that front. Lost foIranian exiles exist around the world after all post Shah-fall.

      The Iranian neighbours – and family friends we had years ago cooked a few meals for us (vice versa too natch) and shared some recipes with my Mum – forget what they were called now (the meals not the neighbours!) but they were absolutely delicious. (Um, ditto.)

      • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

        D’oh! Typos. Lost foIranian exiles exist around the world after all post Shah-fall = Lots of Iranian exiles exist around the world after all post Shah-fall.

        Fix for clarity.

  • RoughCanuk

    Welcome, Kaveh. I am looking forward to your posts on FTB.

    I was a Baha’i for over 35 years, so I have heard quite a bit about Iran. Your posts are going to be quite refreshing to read.

    Cheers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/patrik.roslund1 patrikroslund

    I was impressed by your first post here at FTB, it’s good to see a voice from someone in “one of the axis of evil”. Will you be blogging about atheism exclusively or do you have more topics in line for us? Personally i would like to know more about the political goings-on in Iran. I have meet some very friendly political refugees from your beautiful country in my own frozen part of the world, most being communists (and atheist) and/or Kurds.

    • Kaveh Mousavi

      I have not imposed any topicality on myself. I will blog about politics and fun stuff too. :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/patrik.roslund1 patrikroslund

        Great! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/ivar.husa ivarhusa

    Welcome! We are so glad you can be authentic about your atheism in this expressiveway. I hope, no, I expect you to bring a unique perspective to the Freethought community. We in the US need to develop more ties to the middle east, and maybe especially Iran. Ties such as these reduce the opportunities for demagogues to play up fears. It is good to know there are atheists in Iran.

    I was especially delighted to learn recently that a favorite NPR host, Jian Gomeshi was from an Iranian family. OK, he’s Canadian, but we get to listen to him. You also are such a bridge to Iran, in this blog.

    My best to you. May your creative juices never dry up.

  • robb

    Welcome to FTB!

    I lived in Tehran in the early 70′s when I was very young. It is a very beautiful country with a looooong history.

    Someday it would be fun to swim in the Caspian sea again! Don’t think that will happen given the political climate today.

    • Kaveh Mousavi

      Don’t swim in the Caspian Sea. It’s very polluted now. :(

  • Chris J

    Welcome!

    I lurk, and I rarely comment here on freethoughtblogs. When I do, I have a bad habit of putting my foot in my mouth and making a bad impression… So, yeah. Sorry. I’m looking forward to reading more from you!

  • http://blog.nikhilkrishnaswamy.com nkrishna

    Welcome! I read your previous post and your guest post on B&W. You provide a perspective we don’t get to see often, and I look forward to lots of interesting discussions of politics and religion (and maybe heavy metal, please?) from you.

    • http://blog.nikhilkrishnaswamy.com nkrishna

      Also, as a statistics guy, I love your blog title.

  • https://www.facebook.com/kpalexander1 Kevin Alexander

    Welcome aboard!

    It will be a pleasure to see things from your unique perspective.

    Now, if we can just get someone from Saudi Arabia.

  • ludicrous

    I am very pleased you are here Kaveh. I have been needing an Islam 101 and you have gift for what seems to me, fair minded exposition. I especially appreciate the sorely needed context you have provided the for Harris, Maher et al positions.

  • Alexandre

    So, I’m very ignorant about Islan, but i wish I wasn’t. Can you make a post about the religion and how it relates to christianity?

    Wikipedia says that Islam considers Jesus a prophet, so how do theyview the Bible?

    • Kaveh Mousavi

      Islam considers Jesus a prophet, but not the son of god. According to Koran Jesus didn’t die on the cross, but he was transported to heaven, and Judas was crucified in his place. But it considers Jesus one of the greatest five prophets.

      Koran considers Bible a holy book, and the word of God, but claims that it was later changed by humans, and therefore it is now void.

      Christians and Muslims have had bad relationship, eg crusades, but I’m sure you already know about that. :P In early Islam Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians, the only three religions Islam recognizes, could live in Islamic caliphate but had to pay a special tax, and wear some clothes that identified them. That changed later. Now, in Iran, Christians are an oppressed minority. Not as bad as some other minorities (Kurds, Bahai, atheist,…. ) but oppressed.

  • Alverant

    I have a question about Iran. Someone told me that Iran was trying to relive the “glory” days of the Achaemenid (Persian) Empire; back when it was respected and powerful. Do you think this is true to any degree? And if it is true, then how do they resolve the fact that empire fell about 1000 years before Islam was invented? Don’t they know there were no mosques in the Achaemenid Empire?

    • Kaveh Mousavi

      Islamic Republic as a whole considers that period a bad period, even trying to erase it from history textbooks. For a while Ahmadinejad played that role that he pretended he cares about Persian Empire. The reason was that he had fallen out of Khamenei’s favor, so he was trying to recruit some middle class support among the opposition.

      Personally, I abhor nationalism as much as religion, and I find the idea of praising a conquering ancient empire repulsive and undemocratic. It’s a crutch for the opposition, just as much as religion is the crutch for the regime. Truth is, this country is on the brink of absolute bankruptcy, and two steps away from descending into a bloody chaos. “Great Iranian” nationality is nothing but a false hope.

      That opinion, of course, lands me in the minority among the Iranian opposition.

      • Alverant

        Thanks. Being against national exceptionalism (especially when mixed with religious exceptionalism) can’t be easy.

  • Peter Zachos

    Sir,

    I think I speak for many of us when I say thank you, for putting it on the line and for writing this blog. I, for one, am looking forward to the things you have to say here.

    ~ Peter Z.

  • Jason Dupuy

    Hi Kaveh,

    I’m an English professor in America, and I was just wondering what type of access/exposure to English/American literature you get in Iran.

    I really enjoy your site. Keep it up.

    • Kaveh Mousavi

      Oh, we have access to everything. I have bought books by Marquis de Sade in Iran. They don’t censor literature in languages other than Persian and people freely import them. Plus, there’s internet.

  • fanartflan

    I know you, Kaveh Mousavi, have said that anti-Islamic commentators like Sam Harris or Bill Maher are not racist or unreasonably critical of Islam. What, then, is your stance on Islamophobia as xenophobia, as hatred and fear of immigrants from majority Muslim countries? Even Sam Harris, who said that his criticism of Islam isn’t racist because Islam isn’t a race per se, contradicts that in saying that airports should profile “anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim”.

    • Kaveh Mousavi

      I believe it’s a real issue and it should be thoroughly condemned.

      I think one criticism you can safely level at Harris is that he has overreacted to the threat of terrorism and supports some policies that are in contrast to his liberalism. Also, his criticisms against Islam are misinformed in some cases, and can be easily disputed. I don’t think he’s a racist, or that he means bad. He said that his statement would include Jews like himself too. It’s a stupid thing to say, and it’s a horrible policy to uphold, I agree, but I think if are to judge Harris overall the evidence to his favor outweighs the evidence against him.

      If I were to choose one of the four horsemen as the best regarding Islam, I’d choose Hitchens. All the other three make factual errors all the time but he was really informed about Middle East and Islam.

  • rapiddominance

    Hello Kaveh, and welcome!

    Personally, I’m a christian commenter, but I’ve found most people who I talk to here to be relatively cordial, and in many cases friendly. What you’re doing is brave, but as others here have said, please be safe!

    Anyhow, I wanted to ask you: In Iran, is it harder to be an atheist Iranian or a christian Iranian?

    • Kaveh Mousavi

      I think being an atheist Iranian is harder. Christians have some seats in parliament, can observe their religion, and I don’t think face discrimination from the majority of population. They are second class citizens in many regards, but not as bad as atheists.

      Of course, the real oppression comes if a Muslim decides to convert to Christianity. Then there’s the danger of execution.

      • rapiddominance

        Thanks for the answer.

        Christians have some seats in parliament, . . .

        ALREADY I’ve learned something shocking.

        Of course, the real oppression comes if a Muslim decides to convert to Christianity. Then there’s the danger of execution.

        THIS WILL BE MY LAST QUESTION!!! I realize you have other priorities.

        Would it not be just as dangerous for a Muslim to turn to atheism as it would be for him or her to convert to christianity?

        (As you have more recent posts, I’ll understand if you can’t get back to this one. Depending on the amount of time I’ll be able to spend reading your blog, I think I could learn alot about Islam from your particular perspective aside from what Muslims say and what christian sources feed me).

        Take care,

        Scott

        • Kaveh Mousavi

          1) Feel free to ask as many questions as you like.

          2) Yes. The law is, if you leave Islam, you lose your head.

          Cheers!

  • grumpyoldfart

    By the way, if you are curious about anything, such as Iran, feel free to leave a comment here and ask. It doesn’t have to be related to the topic. I’d be happy to reply.

    What about the older people in Iran? The people who cheered so loudly when Kohmeni returned and took control of the country? Are they still cheering or do they now regret encouraging the theocrats?

    • Kaveh Mousavi

      I think the majority of them regrets it. Actually, the leaders of the pro-democracy movement are the closest allies of Khomeini, and those now in power used to be his rivals. Montazeri – the spiritual father of the Green Movement – was actually the person who theorized the Islamic Republic, and it was decided that he would be the next Supreme Leader, but then he protested against mass executions and tortures, and he lost all power. Mousavi and Karroubi are a bit more complex, because they stuck with the regime during those years and still have some sense of nostalgia regarding those horrible years, but they have changed completely too.

      I don’t know what’s special about the climate of Iran’s politics, but people change rapidly and fundamentally. Even those who opposed the regime back in those days were not liberals, but totalitarian Marxists or radical Islamists like MEK. Most of them have changed too and have become democrats.

  • wtfwhateverd00d

    Do you still live in Iran?

    Is it possible that discussions here could jeopardize the lives of people you know in Iran?

    In college as a freshman I had several friends from Iran, and Iranians made up a good percentage of our foreign student population. And then the next year, there were none.

    • Kaveh Mousavi

      Yes.

      There’s always a risk but I’ve minimized it.

      That’s strange. And thanks for your concern. :)

      • wtfwhateverd00d

        “That’s strange.”

        No, it was very sad, and not strange at all. It was 1979. We watched the revolution from our dorm rooms in California, and when the semester ended, well, I am not sure whatever happened to our Iranian classmates, but we never saw them again.

        Be well, and best wishes to you and your family and friends.

  • lesherb

    Kaveh, I stumbled in here from Pharyngula & have thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve read so far. My only familiarity with your country, outside of TV reports, is that my childhood friend’s father was in Tehran. He worked for Grumman (an aerospace company) in the 70s and went over to Iran for a while to work.

    I, too, wish for you to be careful. Perhaps I’m overly fearful but I can’t imagine this blog would go over well if it was found out.

    If you feel comfortable discussing this, I’d be very interested in knowing how you feel about the Iranian nuclear program. It is such a hot button issue here in the states.

    • Kaveh Mousavi

      I think Iran wanted to make a bomb, but has now realized how foolish it was and has changed course. It’s a wasteful and stupid and needless endeavors that has caused us much more than it’s ever worth.

      And thanks a lot for your warm welcome.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/05/11/why-i-am-an-atheist-thomas-spierckel/ tomfrog

    Nice to meet you, welcome on FTB!

    I have a question regarding Baha’is in Iran (since you mention them):

    I come from a Baha’i background (not an Iranian one) and I’ve heard that they are pretty marginalized in Iran: you can’t work for the government, can’t access public universities and some leaders were (stil are?) imprisoned.

    I think Baha’is can’t participate in political activities, by their own doctrine, but could they according to Iranian laws?

    Thanks again for you blog: going to read the rest of your posts right now!

    • Kaveh Mousavi

      No, they’re banned from all positions. They face arrests, as many Bahais are in prison, many times are attacked and even killed. Last week an entire family was stabbed to death. Death is not uncommon 0 even a 16 year old girl was executed in the early years of revolution.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    What”s happening to the Baha’is in Iran these days?

    • Kaveh Mousavi

      Awful things. Complete lack of all political and social rights, barring from higher education, physical violence, even death.

      • http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/05/11/why-i-am-an-atheist-thomas-spierckel/ tomfrog

        In case any visitor of this blog is wondering: the situation of Baha’is in Iran is like Kaveh describes because their religion is more recent than Islam… and according to Islam that’s a big no-no since Mahomet is said to be the *last* prophet from God (not the latest as the Baha’is claim Baha’u’llah —their prophet— was).

        I guess Mormons would face the same situation except their religion did not originate in Iran and there’s significantly more Baha’is than Mormons there.

  • http://maximum-entropy-blog.blogspot.com/ aggressivePerfector

    I’m reminded of a story about a British politician who got in trouble for an innocent remark (sorry, I can’t remember who it was, but I think he might have lost his job). He was confronted with a statistic suggesting that unemployment had recently increased. Quite correctly, he replied that the apparent increase was within the margin of error. In a gross misunderstanding of statistics, people took it to mean that the newly unemployed people were themselves in error – a view that people took to be unsympathetic.

    The idea that because your atheism would not show up as statistically significant in a survey, it meant that you were not really an atheist strikes me as a powerful example of the stupidity people invent to defend their dogma. Thanks for sharing that story.

    By the way, heavy metal, huh? Maybe you know where my nom de plume comes from. Do you have any good local bands?

    • Kaveh Mousavi

      Slayer is one of my most favorite bands. :) And sadly no, I’m very unfamiliar with Iranian underground music :P

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Probably too late again but :

    By the way, if you are curious about anything, such as Iran, feel free to leave a comment here and ask. It doesn’t have to be related to the topic. I’d be happy to reply.

    1) What are Iranians taught or indoctrinated regarding Israel, the Shoah WWII Holocaust of Jews by the Nazis) and Jewish people? Are they demonised and are most Iranians taught to hate them? Is Holocaust denial common as indicated by Ahmadinejad’s comments internationally e.g..running a Holocaust denial carton competition? Do Iranians ever get to hear a fair portrayal of the Israeli side of the conflict?

    2) What are most Iranians understanding of Global Warming – or as I prefer to cal lit more accurately Global Overheating? Is there a lot of religiously inspired science denialism on that front as well as more generally in Iran?

    3) How polluted or clear is it in Iran? Do you ever get to see wilderness or national park areas? Wht are the night skies like?

    Stay safe and best wishes, Kaveh Mousavi, I’m already really enjoying and learning from your blog, cheers.

    • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

      One last question if I may – what do you (& most Iranians) think of their space ambitions such as launching (or did they?) the monkey into orbit and Iranian-American space tourist Anousheh Ansari?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anousheh_Ansari

      Have they heard of her and do they approve? Do they support Iran developing space travel and do they share the view that the monkey launch was dubious?

      See : http://news.discovery.com/space/iran-claims-to-have-launched-a-monkey-into-space-131216.htm among other sources.

      • Kaveh Mousavi

        Iranians are usually hostile to such endeavors because they want the regime to be focused on poverty and hunger and inflation and unemployment. And I think they’re right.

        People loved Anousheh Ansari and were very proud of her and kept talking about her in the media. To me, she’s just a space tourist with a lot of money, so I don’t really care about her.

    • Kaveh Mousavi

      It’s never too late :)

      1) I think those who are raised in very religious pro-regime families are sadly raised into antisemitism and it is very prevalent and strong, and Zionism is made into the conspiracy theory villain. They also believe that Holocaust is a lie. The rest of the population doesn’t care much though. Ahmadinejad’s comment about the Holocaust were very controversial inside Iran as well, and he received a lot of backlash from the reformists. The reformists and moderate Muslims are usually critical of Israel but not rabidly – and I think most of them support two-state solution, and can’t say it because the subject is a red line for the regime. Among opposition, some turn the irrational hatred of Israelis to irrational hatred of Palestinians because they are anti-Arab racists and/or out of simple hatred of the regime. Iranians have no access to a fair view through the legitimate means, but many have satellite receivers and internet and can get Israeli channels or unbiased ones.

      But you have to remember – Iranians are traditionally the enemies of Arabs. So ultimately people are more likely to be hostile towards Arabs rather than Jews.

      2) There’s no denial of global warming, everyone unanimously agrees it’s a problem, from the most fundamentalist to the most atheistic.

      3) The most polluted city of the world, Ahvaz, is in Iran. Tehran is also very VERY polluted, more than a crisis level. It’s because of overpopulation and cars and factories. We do have some national parks, but we’ve destroyed most of our forests and seas and such. Uremia lake, the greatest salt lake, is being destroyed. There are of course clean places too. Ultimately, we’ve failed miserably on the environment.

      • colnago80

        When Ahmadinejad was in Cuba several years ago, he was lectured by none other then Fidel Castro about Holocaust denial. Castro told him to stop denying that it happened.

      • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

        Thanks Kaveh Mousavi. Much appreciated. Sure I’d left it too long so glad to find I was wrong about that.

        I’d love to see you go into (1) in more detail later too, for (2) if only that were so everywhere incl, here in Oz plus the US of A and in (3) Wow. I’ve learnt something today then. I would have guessed Beijing for that “honour” currently or another Chinese mega city. Or maybe somewhere in India or Africa.

        As for space travel vs other priorities, well I can see where you are coming from with this :

        Iranians are usually hostile to such endeavors because they want the regime to be focused on poverty and hunger and inflation and unemployment. And I think they’re right

        But I think there’s a lot more to it than that. It isn’t zero sum, you can tackle heading for the stars or at least near-earth orbit and poverty and other issues simultaneously and you can also learn and develop and benefit in a lot of ways from advancing into space as well so we’ll have to agree to disagree on that or discuss it more later.

        • Kaveh Mousavi

          1) Sure, in a future post maybe.

          I think you disagree because you don’t know how critical the economic situation in Iran is. The country is either already bankrupt or on the brink of it. It’s like asking someone with a cancer to go on a diet to lose weight. Sure, losing weight is necessary but there’s a time for it and not the time of cancer. It IS a zero sum situation right now. The government has no money. These projects are led by the military, with the purpose of showing off and creating false imagery of strength.

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