Author Archive | Nasrin Alavi

A Shock To The West: Muslims Want Democracy

Detail from 'The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy' by Domenico Tiepolo

Detail from 'The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy' by Domenico Tiepolo

I can’t quite settle on what shocked the West more: 9/11 or the popular democratic uprisings sweeping throughout the Middle East. 9/11 certainly came easier for some to explain. Testament to this are the endless column inches and books about the otherness of a world of Islamists at war with humanity; added with the current titillating literary imagination of powerless women victims held in bondage by their men and their faith.

That these very Muslims want democracy has to be the real shocker though. Well it certainly negates the truth of all the regular intelligence agency national dossiers, the think tank country profiles, the political proclamations and so on.

As I try to search for answers of such gross miscalculation. I can’t help but remember personal encounters with such experts. I had written a book about the phenomenon of the Iranian blogosphere that a Times columnist had quoted from telling his readers that “Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, the head of the Iranian judiciary, recently described the Internet as a ‘Trojan Horse carrying enemy soldiers in its belly.’”

Within days I received a gentle enquiring email from an Iran-based foreign correspondent of a renowned western publication asking me about the source of the quote.… Read the rest

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Iran’s Coming Of Age

Photo of Sohrab Arabi was taken on the day that he was to disappear.

Photo of Sohrab Arabi was taken on the day that he was to disappear.

On 16 February 2010 – the week of the anniversary of the revolution of 1979, marked by a huge official demonstration in Tehran – an anonymous video of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan on 20 June 2009 was given the prestigious Polk award. John Darnton, curator of the Polk awards described this record of the shooting of an innocent young student passer-by as the “iconic image of the Iranian resistance”. He added: “This award celebrates the fact that, in today’s world, a brave bystander with a cellphone camera can use video-sharing and social-networking sites to deliver news.”

A few days earlier, the award for the World Press Photo of 2009 was given to an intimate photograph taken (by Pietro Masturzo) on one of the heated nights that following the election, when residents of Tehran would climb to their rooftops and voice their dissent in cries of Allah-o-Akbar.… Read the rest

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