The treatment of ethnic minorities is a fundamental question in building a stable, democratic, and prosperous Iran. But the question of ethnic minorities is not merely a problem to be solved; it is also an immense opportunity for a wise and just leadership to transform Iran from its current pariah status into a leader among nations. Embracing human rights and global interdependence is a necessity for Iran's survival and prosperity.
In the midst of the holiday season, on December 28, 2012, President Barack Obama signed into law the "Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012." This Act seeks to initiate a whole-of-government approach to what looks to be an increasing threat to the United States, and by extension to Canada as well. Canada is no stranger to the Islamic terrorist threat. The millennium bomber -- Ahmed Ressam, the Toronto 18, and Omar Khadr, among other high profile cases, have brought radical Islam to the forefront of Canadian national security. Closing the embassy of the Islamic Republic in Ottawa last year shows that Minister Harper is serious on his promise.
On this day in 2009 I and a few other online activists worked an intense and thrilling 16 hours to publish live updates on Persian2English about mass opposition student protests in Iran. It was National Student Day, or as the Iranians call it, 16 Azar. This year the lunar calendar caused 16 Azar to fall a day earlier, but there were no signs of opposition protests in Iran yesterday.
The way a news story is structured or what goes in the headline may have a profound effect on what people think they know about current events. For the casual news consumer, many of whom stopped reading this after the first few paragraphs, it is a good idea to carefully read the entire story when it comes to important issues.
A process of truth and reconciliation is underway this week in The Hague -- the Iran Tribunals. The aim of the tribunals is to bring the facts, individuals, and victims of the mass executions that marked the beginnings of the Islamic Republic of Iran. As witnesses of day one related their stories to the audience, there was a feeling of clarity. More than one tear was shed for these tragic experiences, and the lives lost.
In the face of international condemnation of Iran's destructive pursuit of nuclear weapons and its repeated calls for Israel's destruction, filmmaker Alexandre Trudeau reports that Iran's atomic ambitions are for "defensive" purposes only, serving as an effective "deterrent" against Israeli "aggression" and belligerence. That is at least the way Trudeau framed the second instalment of his three-part documentary that aired on CBC's The National on October 14.
Nasrin Sotoudeh, an award-winning lawyer held unlawfully in Evin Prison since 2010, is on her third day of hunger strike. To show their solidarity with this incredible woman, human rights and online activists have organized a "Tweet Storm" for Friday. The online event is an urgent call to take action for her release.
On Canadian Thanksgiving Monday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave a major foreign policy address to the faculty and students of the Virginia Military Institute. He did not mention Canada once despite the fact that his vision of U.S. global leadership is like the Hollywood-budget version of Canada's indie foreign policy sensation. Should Romney become the 45th president of the United States, it will be essential, though, for him to recognize that U.S. leadership must be exercised in a spirit of partnership for it to be successful. The message to Ottawa in January can't be "Thanks Canada for doing the right things in world affairs -- we'll take it from here."
Innocence of Muslims aspired and failed to be a film, which was then dubbed, cut, and turned into a hybrid trailer-clip of a YouTube video. The poor production value, and the ignorance put into the creation of this project are far from worthy of the protests, bloodshed, or lives lost. Despite this, the Iranian government has decided to take a stand against the Academy Awards, for not taking a stand against a YouTube video and is boycotting the awards. This reasoning is untenable, and thus it merits some analysis.
Stephen Harper's invitation to a select group of Iranian-Canadians to visit Ottawa last week was spurred by the realist demand for a photo-op to prove how cozy and cordial relations are. The meeting was also an attempt to showcase how Iranian-Canadians were overwhelmingly in support of the draconian move to close the Iranian embassy in Canada. When activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam and the other delegates who met with the PM state that they are toiling for the sake of Iranian freedom, they seldom want observers to remember historical parallels. It is time for these activists to be exposed for who they are -- expendable sycophants waiting for definite answers from someone who will never be willing to provide them. It is time Iranian activists stop drinking Harper's Kool-Aid and be exposed for who they are -- expendable sycophants waiting for definite answers from someone who will never be willing to provide them.