Blog Archives

The Verdict that Shook Iran and Europe

Reuters – “They say a good news story is like an onion. The more one peels it, the newer and fresher are the layers that surface. If depth and longevity are the gold standards for a news story, then the

Iran & Israel: What Two Enemies Share

New York Times – “IF a war were to break out between Iran and Israel, whose side would you be on?” someone asked me on Facebook a few weeks ago, when an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities was reportedly imminent.

Egypt Through the Lens of Iran’s 1979 Revolution

TIME – Feb 2011: Ever since the crowds flooded into Tahrir Square, I’ve begun talking to the living-room television. “Drop that hand!” I shouted at the raised fist of a pro-Mubarak thug a few days ago.  We, as in young

Christopher Hitchens Eulogized by Roya Hakakian

The Daily Beast – “His charm, his way with words and his brilliant contentiousness have all been well cataloged, but Christopher Hitchens’s key quality was his ability to make common cause with the oppressed wherever he found them. The debater,

Roya on Iran & America: A Revolution On The Page: Finding Identity In Poetry

NPR – “The effect of a great work of literature is often to unhinge its reader, to strip her of all previously cherished beliefs down to discomfiting nakedness. Roethke’s “Waltz” did just that. It abruptly unveiled to me everything that

How Iran Kills Abroad: Parallels between the Mykonos Assassinations and the plot against the Saudi ambassador

Wall Street Journal – On the night of Sept. 17, 1992, at 10:45, two darkly clad men burst in on a private dinner at a Berlin restaurant and stood over a table around which eight of Iran’s leading opposition figures

Reading the Holocaust Cartoons in Tehran

nytimesThe news of the exhibition of Holocaust cartoons in Tehran took me back to a moment in my childhood. In 1974, his first year at Tehran’s Academy for Visual Arts, my brother mounted an exhibition of his own cartoons. The drawings were a novice’s best attempt at political satire, but they were enough to alarm my law-abiding father into sending my brother away to America. Our family was never whole again.

Holocaust Denial and Tehran

wsjDictatorships bear paradoxes. I came across a set of them 10 years ago, when I hosted a dinner for two female Iranian medical students who’d come to Yale Medical School on a rare academic exchange program. These impressive women had climbed to the top 10th percentile in a man’s profession, in a man’s country. But I was stunned to learn that — despite 16 years of education at some of Iran’s premiere schools — neither had ever heard of the word “Holocaust,” or thought of Hitler as anything but the German equivalent of Napoleon.

 

When Eyes Get Averted: The Consequences of Misplaced Reporting

‘Poor reporting from and about Iran has kept the West in the dark. In this lightlessness, Iranians are rendered as ghosts.’

On the day that the Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi, charged with espionage by Tehran, was handed her eight-year sentence, I received several dozen messages asking if I planned to write something about the case. It is a natural question for those who know me: I am Iranian. I write about Iran, and I often write what in journalism we refer to as human-interest stories. Yet as certain as I was about Saberi’s innocence, I refused to write only about her. That would be precisely what Tehran’s ruling puppeteers wanted everyone to do. And I am, above all, a writer, not a marionette.

 

Then They Came for the Bahai

ForwardIn mastering the knowlege that even bigotry is relative and comes in gradations, I was a premature pupil. I learned this lesson when I was only 10.
In 1977, in an eclectic neighborhood in Tehran, my Jewish family lived on a narrow, wooded alley in what was then an upscale area, alongside two other Jewish families and many more Muslims. There was also a Bahai family, the Alavis, next door.

By then, I had already intuited that my relatives, in the presence of Muslim friends and neighbors, were somehow less flamboyant creatures, quieter and more measured. But the Alavis, debonair and highly educated, were mere ghosts.