Friday, May 31, 2013

Iran: Beyond the Headlines, Beneath the Fold

A 2011 Andy Warhol exhibit at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran, Iran.

Iran is in the news a lot these days. Perhaps more than usual. There’s constant chatter about the upcoming presidential election as campaigns heat up. There are overhyped reports and baseless accusations about Iran’s nuclear program. The United States Congress wants desperately, per the demands of their AIPAC benefactors, to impose a total trade embargo on the Islamic Republic, as the Canadian government has literally done just that, despite widespread acknowledgement that the heaping on of more and more sanctions against Iran is ineffective – and dangerous – policy.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has, according to Ars Technica's Cyrus Farivar, “lifted digital sanctions that for more than two decades have prevented companies that do business in the US from also selling or distributing digital goods—including mobile phones, hosting services, VPNs, and software updates—to Iran.”

A bumbling, bipolar used-car salesman accused of being deployed by the Iranian government to hire a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate a Saudi Ambassador in Washington D.C. just received a sentence of 25 years in prison by a U.S. District Court. The usual cadre of neoconservative regime change advocates are continuing to publish the same worn-out warmongering screeds that they’ve been writing for the past decade.

But there are other stories about Iran, too. Ones that, amazingly, don’t include talk of enriched uranium, spinning centrifuges, elections, sanctions, or bombing. There are stories about young Iranian women practicing parkour on the streets of Tehran, Esfahan, and Lahijan. And stories about innovative and inspiring Iranian fashion designers Farnaz Abdoli and Shadi Parand. A beautiful photo essay, published Thursday May 29, 2013 by London’s Daily Mail, shows a side of Iran seldom seen in the mainstream Western press. Photographer Amos Chapple, during the course of three separate visits to Iran, snapped some incredible images, contrasting ancient villages with bustling cityscapes. ”‘I was amazed by the difference in western perceptions of the country and what I saw on the ground,” Chapple explains, echoing the sentiments of nearly everyone who has ever visited Iran with preconceived notions.

And just last week, NPR posted a performance by acclaimed Iranian singer Mohammad Reza Shajarian, which is described as “a brief master class in the art of singing. In the course of this love song, titled ‘Az Eshgh,’ the Iranian icon unleashes torrents of swooping, soaring, goosebump-inducing sound that’s still perfectly controlled at age 73.”

Watching the video below and listening to the incredible music, you’d almost be forgiven for believing there’s hope yet for peace and reconciliation.

From NPR's Anastasia Tsioulcas: Every Tiny Desk Concert provides its own particular thrill, but it’s not every day that we get to welcome one of NPR’s 50 Great Voices to our offices. With the visit of the incredible, honey-voiced Mohammad Reza Shajarian from Iran, we lucked out by having him sing on not just any day, but on the biggest holiday of the Persian calendar: Nowruz, the New Year.

Joined by three excellent collaborators, brothers Sohrab and Tahmoures Pournazeri (celebrated musicians in their own right as leaders of Iran’s Shams Ensemble) and French percussionist Robin Vassy, Ostad (“Master”) Shajarian gave what amounted to a brief master class in the art of singing. In the course of this love song, titled “Az Eshgh,” Shajarian unleashed torrents of swooping, soaring, goosebump-inducing sound — still perfectly controlled at age 73.

Full article

Originally posted at Muftah.


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