Gita Hashemi on Sun, 2 Dec 2001 23:19:31 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> FWD: Letter to the editor about Makhmalbaf's Article

At 4:47 AM -0800 12/1/01, cisler wrote:
>I remember reading that article when it was on  I thought
>it was an interesting one, and I tried to write to the author whose email I
>found through Google. I got a message back from aol saying the address had
>been blocked, perhaps because of harassing mail against anyone sympathetic
>to Afghanistan?  Who knows.

I don't think that specific article was the reason for his address being
blocked.  Mr. Makhmalbaf is a very influential man and there are many
people who would want to get in touch with him for different reasons.

>I read the letter you forwarded, thinking you had written it. When I saw the
>name at the end I thought, "Well, I know more now about Makhmalbaf but
>nothing about his accuser."  Google yields a neuropsychologist in Montreal,
>but it might not be the same person.  Can you say more?

My apologies for not making it clearer.  What I meant by not knowing the
source was that I didn't know which publication Makhmalbaf's article had
appeared in and Mr. Bawani had addressed in his letter.  In fact I just
found out (and apparently, so did the nettime moderators) that Mr.
Makhmalbaf's article which was originally published on was
republished in the November issue of Monthly Review
( ). Mr.  Bawani's letter is
addressed to this journal too, but as far as I can see it hasn't been
published yet.

You are correct about Farzad Bawani being a neuropyschologist in Montreal.  
He has written a number of articles about the Iranian cinema and its
reception in the West, but I am yet to get my hands on these.

>Also, can you place RAWA in the spectrum of women's groups dealing with the
>plight of Afghan women?  I imagine they are fighting for representation of
>some kind, now that the Taliban are crumbling. Do they have the ear of any
>governments? Afghan women are meeting with UN, German Development agency,
>and of course my President's wife, Laura Bush. Was RAWA there?

I am not an expert in this area and my familiarity with RAWA's history is
limited, so mine is not a very informed opinion.  Having said that, my
reading, based on the little I know, is that RAWA came out of the
socialist movements that were pretty strong in the region (which includes
Iran, Tajikestan, Torkmenestan , Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, etc.) from
very early in the1900s to about mid- to late-1970s.  While many (but not
all) of the women's organizations started within the socialist left, a
large number of them grew apart and walked away when it became clear that
the partisan left was not much better than the fundamentalist right when
it came to the "woman question."  RAWA currently attracts a wide spectrum
of women in and out of Afghanistan.

In fact, RAWA was fighting to have representation in the recent conference
in Bonn, but, in spite of its lobbying the UN, not surprisingly, it did
not get in.  I know that RAWA has been pretty active in lobbying various
international players, so I would not be surprised if they had in fact met
with Mrs. Bush.

I think the question is this "is there a political will to support
independent and indigenous women's rights movements in the region?"  And
the answer is a clear no.  It would be very naive to assume that the West,
particularly the U.S., has any benefit in supporting these movements that
pose a serious threat to the stability of the oppressive, U.S.-backed
regimes in the region.  A case in point was Saudi Arabia during the Gulf
War.  So what you call the "plight of Afghan women" is only used
strategically to garner public opinion support for the so called "War on
Terrorism."  The Northern Alliance, that is currently the favourite and
supported by the U.S. and its allies, is, essentially, not a whole lot
different from the Taliban.  In fact, as soon as they took over Kabul, the
religious leaders siding with them issued a warning to women to continue
observing Islamic codes.

Be well.

Gita Hashemi

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