Purim in Iran – and Dura Europa

Today is Purim – the holiday ostensibly commemorating the salvation of Persian Jews, following the intercession of the Queen of Persia, Esther, and her guardian, Mordechai. It’s in the news right now because of Netanyahu’s inflammatory Congress speech drawing parallels between one version of Purim; and current Iranian government policy and the purported threat to …

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What happens if you are Charlie in Iran

The Rouhani-supporting newspaper Mardom-e Emrouz featured a photo of actor George Clooney alongside Clooney’s message of support for Charlie Hebdo and its staff – and was then shut down following the outraged demands of many more conservative media outlets in Iran. As Iranwire reported: “The closure also points to a wider problem:  Rouhani’s failure to …

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Mirrors of the Unseen: Journeys in Iran by Jason Elliot

This is one of the better books I’ve read on Iran. But It drove me mad with all: – the lists (actual, and cleverly disguised by stringing them together with commas / semi-colons). It’s great to do research, but maybe he didn’t need to put all of it in? – the whining about cab drivers …

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The birth of the export carpet industry in Iran

Ziegler & Company was the first company to produce handmade Persian carpets while catering to European tastes and needs – even accepting designs from Western retailers. What are considered as ‘Iranian’ patterns in carpets were “often affected by European imperialism and process of globalization”. Kimia Maleki has described how Ziegler was “instrumental in shaping how …

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An Iranian peep-box in Canadian customs

A Iranian peep-box (shahre-farang) is being held by Canadian customs as contravening Canadian trade sanctions – even though the Canadian government funded it an artwork. This has got to be one of the dumbest sanctions ever. Please show your support for the artist, Sadaf Foroughi, by e-signing her petition here. Shahre-farang were traditionally made of …

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Synagogues in Iran

There are said to be more Jews in Iran than any other Muslim country- although many more are recorded by the local Jewish authorities than in the Census. Here’s a video peek inside some of the synagogues in Iran. Plus a link to a Jewish view of the local Jewish community.

Iran’s natural heritage: the export of dust

Last week, IHF ran a great conference on the Natural Heritage of Iran. There were speeches and discussion on water, air, forests, wildlife and some fascinating presentations on community development. I thought the most interesting tension was between the demands for large-scale, coordinated national plans and programmes (a great idea, but … do they ever …

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