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Third anniversary of the Tehran students protests

2009 was a year of great hope for a democratic change in Iran, followed by the the worst nightmare of state-sponsored violence against the democratic movement. Many of the progressive and brave students who rallied for the democratic candidates Mir Hussein Moussavi and Karoubi were beaten on the streets, arrested and tortured in Evin prison, banned from continuing their studies or even killed like Neda Agha-Soltan. Her story was writen by Arash Hejazi, the medical doctor who tried to rescue her life after she was shot by a basidj thug at Karekar-Boulevard on June 20th of this year.



Servus and Salam

When Benedict Fuhrmann, 34 years old photographer realized that on his planed road-trip from Germany to Vietnam the mountains and plains of Iran marked only half of the entire distance, and after he had to spend some days on the turkish-iranian boarder to be checked, but later was invited by the boarder policemen to stay there for an hour-length tea-break, he changed his further travel plan and drove around this country for 3 month. Not that he was afraid of the ever-present officials who did not let any doubt of their careful surveillance of this suspicious lonesome travellor, not that he was ignorant about the well-known violations of human rights in Iran, but he felt that all the news headlines in the international media missed a major point: That a country as big as Iran with a population as complex and colourful as its cultural heritage is only poorly described in political categories. Mr. Fuhrmann describes his intention as "We say ‘yes’ to transcending borders and are adding a personal perspective to the image of Iran propagated by the media. Hidden from view by every regime are the real people, the people who live in a country." After 3 month of shooting photographs and videos, Benedict Fuhrmann returned to Germany with a treasure of yet unseen impressions of this country.
Fuhrmann is currently crowd-raising money to present his images and videos under the title "Say Servus and Salam" in a private Munich gallery ("Servus" is common south-german/austrian slang for Hello). You can read about his entire project on his english website or have a look at a selection of his images following this link.


Mehran Barati comments Tschernobyls impact on people in Tehran

Mehran Barati, exiled Iranian opposition leader made this very personal comment about the 1986 Tschernobyl accident, and how it was anticipated in Tehran. Mr. Barati, a political analyst who lives and works in Germany, left Iran in 1960 after getting into conflict with the Shah regime which took over power after the coup d'etat against the Mossadegh gouvernment. The statement below about the radiation-hysteria after the 1986 nuclear disaster in Ukraine, which also caused great nervousness in Iran shows that he has a very rational view on a subject that others comment with irrationalism. Mehran Barati also happend to be father-in-law to the former German minister for external affairs, Joshka Fischer: 2005 Fischer married Mehran Baratis daughter Minu. Barati is a couple of years older than Fischer, but his political ideas and comments seem to be much fresher and original than those of his son-in-law. This is a perfect evidence that a creative, inspiring mentality is not necessarily associated with younger age. It has to do with experience, education and personality. And here, Barati is apparently superior to the former gouvernment clerk Fischer.


Multilingualism and music both enhance intellectual performance

Hello Michael, My mom always told me that because me and my brother were raised simultaneously in three languages (that is Persian, Swedish and French), both of us had to split our vocal energy in three channels, whereas my Swedish pre-school mates where always slightly advanced in their single Swedish mother tongue. When we grew older, we simply considered our tri-linguistic capability as keys to open a door to some additional spheres of kids excitement. In addition to the talking and playing with the other kids in prep-school, we could also sing with our parents french children songs and listen to old-persian fairy-tales when we visited Grandma in Tehran. Throughout the years, however, these advantages lost their relevance more and more: now one can read almost everything in translations, and my music taste has changed a lot, away from french childrens songs more to contemporary music. And if I listen to Persian music now, it is more for the rhythm and the melodies which I like, rather than for the lyrics. Sometimes I was already asking myself if the three languages we grew up with would have really any long-term benefit for me, in particular now when English seems to be the dominating tool for worldwide communication. Sure, it was always suggested that people who grew up in a multilingual environment (like in bi-national families) have some general advantages in life-long learning and communication, that they perform better in various neurological tests, and that it is easier for them to learn new languages even later in life. It was not clear, however, to what degree other social factors such as higher educational level in such families or their intention to provide these kids with additional skills and training might have biased such a finding. In a recent paper by Krizman and co-workers from Northwestern University, Evanston IL, published in PNAS it could be shown, that bilinguals had a specifically increased ability to differentiate between simultaneously sounding auditory objects. The perception of an auditory source is considered a key element in the ability to learn in a concentrated manner. It considerably increases the tolerance of a person against disturbances from external sources while concentrating on a subject. Their study also showed that the neural enhancements observed in multitalker babble intersect with bilinguals’ known advantages in cognitive control and are similar to advantages seen in musicians. The continuously manipulating sounds across two languages leads to an expertise in how sound is encoded in the bilingual brain. In both groups of auditory experts (i.e., musicians and bilinguals), enhanced experience with sound results in an auditory system that is highly efficient, flexible and focused in its automatic sound processing, especially in challenging or novel listening conditions. Thus, converging evidence from both musicians and bilinguals points to subcortical plasticity as providing a biological basis for advantages in real-world experiences with sound. Didn't you came up last year with this theory that the sounds and music the unborn child hears in the mothers womb can have a profund effect onto his mental development ? So if we all hear music from iPod or MP3 player any more, should not at least the pregnant woman expose themself and their unborn baby to some real good sound, like going to a concert or a music club ? Well, I guess this all depends on the mothers taste (which than coins the taste of its kids). Take good Care /ghazal


Iran, Jews and the Holocaust

Hi Michael, Remembering when we came to Munich, and me and Shava visited the Dachau concentration camp. When I tell about our impressions to people here in Sweden, very quickly the discussion switches to Iran and the mullahs regime and their atrocities against Israel (or as they call it, the "Zionist entity"). People here are somewhat convinced, that there is a historic hostility between persian and jewish people. But this is all not true, of course. Over 2500 years, in fact untill the demise of the late Shah Reza Pahlevi, Jews were a very accepted and well integrated majority in the persian society. I found this very elusive article by Abbas Milani, where he shows that already in ancient times Persia was always supportive of the Jews. Have a look at this article.

Take good care