An online connection between the Persian-speaking world, Bulgaria, Romania and the rest – Онлайн връзка между персоговорящия свят, България, Румъния и останалите – Legătură online între lumea persofonă, Bulgaria, România şi celelalte – روابط انلاین بین دنیای فارسی زبان بلغارستان رومانیا و دیگران
The Iranian novel Neighbours and the times of Mohammad Mosaddegh, seen through the ideas about masses of Bulgaria-born Elias Canetti
Studia Europaea 2/2022, Babeș-Bolyai University (Romania), 30 December 2022
The crowd has played and continues to play a very important role in Iranian politics at critical moments . This article looks at its role in the mid 20th century, especially during the times of rule of Reza Shah (1925-1941) and Mohammad Mosaddegh (1951-1953). The article reviews European thought about the masses, with special emphasis on the ideas of Bulgaria-born Nobel Laureate in Literature Elias Canetti. Canetti believed that the crowd was not always irrational, evil forces, but sometimes played a positive historical role: when it demanded and enacted social change. It is exactly what happened during the times of Mosaddegh. A look at these times is made through excerpts from the Iranian novel Neighbors by Ahmad Mahmoud, through a look at the press of that time and Ervand Abrahamian’s historical writing.
Fereydoun Majlessi, an Iranian foreign policy analyst in an interview with Setareh Sobh (Morning Star)
Morning Star, Faezeh Sadr: This year, Student Day is a different experience for the officials who go to the country’s universities as speakers. Because they face serious questions from students. Therefore, the impact of the social atmosphere and recent protests on the officials’ words is evident. Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf gave a speech on the occasion of Student’s Day at Tarbiat Modares University. In a part of his speech, the speaker of the parliament mentioned the recent protests and while introducing himself as one of those who contributed to the country’s problems with his mistakes, he said: “…we must prove the effectiveness of religion in the government…” Setareh Sobh made an interview with Fereydoun Majlesi, the analyst, who analyzed the words of the speaker of the parliament, which you can read below:
We translators always translate the stories after their completion. The story written in Iran right now has thousands of authors. As it is written, it is translated into one language: humanity! For this translation, one only needs to know the language’s grammar. Nowadays, each Iranian citizen is the translator of their and others’ words. Like all other Iranian citizens, we translators have used the name of Zhina (Mahsa) Amini and many other Iranian men and women who were brutally murdered during the protests to send our message to the world. We have shouted ‘Life, woman, freedom’, the key slogan of the Iranian movement, in every language we know.
We are standing with millions of Iranians, especially Iranian women who have been harshly oppressed by the regime. We denounce all discriminations and restrictions on freedom imposed by the regime, which have turned Iran into a prison. We stand against the economic corruption that has resulted in poverty and poor living conditions for most Iranians. We condemn all barbaric laws, which have been put in place to cause fear and give the regime the power to control both public and private lives of Iranians. We denounce all the lies told by the regime to the citizens of Iran.
The death on September 16 of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman, in the custody of Iran’s so-called morality police for allegedly violating the country’s ultra-conservative dress code, sparked massive anti-government demonstrations.
The protests were initially started by women tired of obeying the harsh rules of the Islamic regime, where they have almost no rights, not even the right to go bare-headed or to sing alone on stage.
Later, many men joined the street demonstrations. Despite the violent interventions of the authorities – 243 deaths, 23 children among, thousands of arrests, and a weak political support from abroad, the protests not only did not stop, but 40 days after the young woman’s death, they intensified.
PRESShub spoke to Iranian writer Rana Soleimani about the harsh living conditions for women in Iran, one of the toughest patriarchal societies and the chances of the Islamic regime falling.
Her first book, Lorca on the Street of Angels, was banned from publication by the Iranian authorities. Although in Iran she participated in many literary contests, she was not among the winners because of her refusal to conform to the rules of the Islamic Republic.
Finally, Rana Soleimani left Iran, and since 2014 she has been living in Sweden. Rana’s books include The Ulysses Syndrome, a novel published in London that describes the story of a Jewish woman forced to leave Iran with her child, and Viva la Vida, the story of four women in Ervin Prison, each accused of a different crime. This book was an Iranian bestseller abroad last year.
The most important statements of Rana Soleimani
The Ministry of Culture and Guidance of the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for limiting access to any non-Islamic content and preventing the promotion of foreign culture in the Islamic Republic.
The big problem of Iranian society is that censorship does not only operate in the field of fiction, but also manifests itself on academic, scientific, theatrical, cinematographic productions, etc.
Solo performance by women on stage, in a play or in a film, is prohibited, and touching a woman’s body or hair is prohibited altogether.
Iran’s Islamic Penal Code is the reflection of a patriarchal society among the harshest, where women’s rights are half of men’s rights.
There have also been protest movements in recent years generated by the obligation to wear the hijab. The protest movement of the Elkhebal Street girls since January 2016 turned the issue of compulsory hijab into one of the main issues at the political and social level.
The problem is that, as the regime itself admits, culture has been a fortress that they have not been able to conquer so far, remaining one of the main pillars of people’s resistance against the regime.
It can now be said that the dictatorial regime has lost the game and that the spirit of the collectivity has changed. The Islamic Republic must be removed. The main problem is not the removal of the veil. People want civil rights and they want those rights respected.
“Europe’s and the US’ human rights positions are a political joke”
This article was published on 26 October 2022 on the website of the BNR Horizon programme.
“The protests, which have grown into riots, were triggered by external forces.” This is what H.E. Seyed Mohammad Javad Rasouli, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Bulgaria.
Protests accompanied by riots continue in Iran. Tensions escalated in September following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, three days after she was detained by morality police for improperly wearing a hijab. Protesters blamed law enforcement for her death. The authorities deny these allegations.
“The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran recognizes the right to public protest and criticism. Many peaceful gatherings were held and ended even without the presence of police and security forces. At the same time, like any political system in the world, the Iranian Government regards the preservation of territorial integrity, the security of the people and public order as its red line and, from this point of view, distinguishes between ‘protest’ and ‘disorder’.
“What we witnessed after the second day was no longer just a protest but organised disorder and violence. As a result of investigations by the security services, armed terrorist groups were found to be present among the protesters. I ask you, if your security institutions were confronted with actions that violated security and public order, what would they do? According to statistics, last year hundreds of people, including women, were killed as a result of shootings by US police. Have the European Union and European countries taken any action against the United States to uphold and respect human rights? Has the West imposed sanctions on Saudi Arabia because of human rights? In my opinion, the positions of Europe and America regarding human rights are a big political joke. European governments, for their political and economic interests, are acting against the security of Iran, which is the only true democracy in the region’.
Interview with the Iranian writer, living in Sweden about the current protests in Iran and about the importance of literature and feminism for their resilience
Mrs. Soleimani, how would you present yourself?
I am Rana Soleimani, a writer living in Stockholm. Since I left Iran in 2014, I have not returned to my country.
Since childhood, I always dreamed of becoming a writer. I studied economics at the university, but later due to my great interest in literature, I was able to become a member of the Iranian Literature Center.
My first book was a collection of stories (Lorca on Fereshte Street) was not allowed to be published because there were many problems with censorship and the Ministry of Guidance in Iran. After a period of two years, the book was published by removing many words and concepts from the book. For example, it is forbidden to refer to the sexual relationship between a man and a woman in the story, or to bring the word dog, alcoholic beverages, and also to infinity.
My second book was published in Stockholm and is called You Know, and the other one called Ulysses Syndrome, which is a novel, was published in London. The next book is called Zendebad Zendegi (Viva la Vida), which is the story of four women who are in Evin prison, and each of them is accused of a different crime. They are in prison and all four women are waiting for freedom and the subject of the book was very bitter and dark because it is about execution and women in the Islamic Republic of Iran. And the next book to appear is called One Day with Seven Thousand Elders, which is also about women and immigration.
An interview for the Iranian Labour News Agency on the demands of the Bulgarian protests, on the similarities and differences with the 2013 anti-oligarhic protests, on the geopolitical and internal importance of the demonstrations and on their influence on social change in Bulgaria.
The Iranian Labour News Agency, which is a media, affiliated with the House of the Workers (the Iranian labour unions) has published this interview with Vladimir Mitev on 27 September 2020.
Mr. Mitev, the protests in Bulgaria have lasted for more than 75 days. Given the fact that Bulgaria saw the rise of anti-corruption as a lever of social change, what is the main demand of these unrests?
The main demands are two resignations – of the prime minister Boyko Borissov and of the chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev. The accusation against them is that under their rule the state has been taken over by the oligarchy. There is also an accusation that state institutions, including the prosecution’s office, have not been serving the public interest, but the interest of a part of the oligarchy, which has been marginalising through the prosecution other parts of this economic elite, formed in the times of transition. In their turn, the accused have been suggesting that parts of the oligarchy, which have been hit in the recent anti-corruption campaign, are behind the protests. It is worthy to remind that the oligarch Vasil Bojkov who fled to Dubai after receiving more than a dozen accusations, was on good terms with Borissov and his business was flourishing until recently.
The raise in the price of gasoline and the stricter limit to its consumption have provoked demonstrations, which take place in small towns and in the poor quarters of the big cities
This article was published on 17 November 2019 on the Bulgarian section of the site ‘The Barricade”.
Protests against the raise in the price of gasoline and the against the lowering of the allowed subsidised consumption amount of gasoline have erupted in various parts of Iran. On Saturday, 16 November 2019, it was announced that the first deaths have taken place during the protests, in which the security forces clash with the demonstrators. The protesters blocked important boulevards in the big cities, which lead to the announcement that Sunday will not be a school day in Shiraz and Isfahan. BBC Persian has reported that the speed of Internet has fallen in various parts of the country over the weekend. The greatest mobile networks in the country – MCI, Rightel and IranCell have lost their signal around 18 o’clock Iranian time (16:30 Bulgarian/Romanian time) on 16 November 2019.