Ayatollah Tehrani’s gift stirs global conversation on religious co-existence


Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani perfecting an illuminated work of calligraphy. The words used in this piece are from the writings of Baha’u’llah.


NEW YORK – The ground-breaking gift of a senior Iranian cleric to the worldwide Baha’i community is beginning to stir a global conversation about religious co-existence and freedom of religion.


More statements of support for the actions and words of Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani have been issued in the United Kingdom and India, and other prominent individuals are offering comments in the Netherlands, Spain, and the United States.


The response comes after Ayatollah Tehrani bravely gave to the Baha’is of the world a calligraphic rendering of Baha’i sacred verses, along with a plea for religious “co-existence”.

Harry van Bommel, a Member of Parliament in the Netherlands, published news of Ayatollah Tehrani’s actions on his blog, saying: “The action of this Ayatollah is important and does not stand alone. There are a growing number of religious scholars who together form a constructive and principled voice [for religious co-existence] that deserves to be supported and promoted.”

At the heart of the work are the following words: “Consort with the followers of all religions with amity and concord.”

The calligraphic work was accompanied by a three-page statement, which, among other things, said:

“I present this precious symbol – an expression of sympathy and care from me and on behalf of all my open-minded fellow citizens who respect others for their humanity and not for their religion or way of worship – to all the Baha’is of the world, particularly to the Baha’is of Iran who have suffered in manifold ways as a result of blind religious prejudice.”

Last week, religious leaders in India and Church of England clerics in the United Kingdom also issued statements of praise for Ayatollah Tehrani’s actions.



Syrias destruction is not the result of a spontaneous “revolution” but is systematically pre-planned


“In October 2007 General Wesley Clarke recounted how, in late 2001, a Pentagon source informed him that US State Department goals were to “to attack and destroy the governments in seven countries in five years. We are going to start with Iraq, and then we’re going to move to Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.”

Perhaps even more significantly, General Clarke recounted a conversation he had had with Paul Wolfowitz in 1991, in which the then number 3 in the Pentagon told Clark: “one thing we did learn [from the First Gulf War] is that we can use our military in the region [in the Middle East] and the Soviets won’t stop us. And we’ve got about 5 or 10 years to clean up those old Soviet regimes – Syria, Iran, Iraq – before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.” “

Washington and the Corporate Media are in Full Propaganda Mode on Ukraine


“…Kerry called Russia’s actions in Crimea, which involved no significant violence, an “incredible act of aggression,” and then went on to say, “You just don’t, in the 21st century, behave in 19th-century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext.”

Whoa! This knee-slapper was said with a dour straight face by the top diplomat of a country that in early years of the current century has already invaded not one but two countries — Iraq and Afghanistan — and bombed the crap out of them, destroying both and killing over a million innocent people. As Kerry surely knows, the United States also routinely sends fighter-bombers and missile-launching drone aircraft to bomb and kill people (often civilians) in countries like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia – all countries with which the US is not even at war!”

Martin Indyk, US´ “honest broker” in the Israeli Palestinian “peace” talks

“Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel, was selected by Secretary of State John Kerry for the role of Special Envoy for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority…

…the Americans were hardly honest in their dealings with both parties. In fact, the US was not a third party at all, but was and remains steadfast in the Israeli camp. ..Martin Indyk, the prospective harbinger of peace, worked for the pro-Israeli lobby group AIPAC in 1982. AIPAC is a rightwing outlet that has invested unlimited funds and energy to impede any just and peaceful resolution to the conflict…Indyk’s most important contribution to Israel, however, was the founding of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) in 1985, another Israeli lobby outlet..”

Iran sends Syria 30,000 tons of food supplies

BEIRUT (AP) — Iran delivered 30,000 tons of food supplies to Syria on Tuesday to help the government deal with shortages due to the civil war, state media said.

Last May, Iran extended a $3.6 billion credit line to Syria, enabling Assad’s government to buy oil products and help shore up the diving value of the Syrian pound.

Before the conflict started in March 2011, Syria produced most of the food needed to feed its 23 million inhabitants and even exported wheat. Over the past year, the country has experienced massive shortages because the fighting has been concentrated in opposition-held, rural areas around Syria’s major cities, including the capital, and along the border with Lebanon, where most of the agricultural land is located.

In Rome, the U.N. World Food Program said Syria is facing a drought that will have “a major impact on the next cereal harvest.” With the rainy season ending in mid-May and the rainfall since September at the level of less than half the average, millions of lives could be at risk, the WFP said in a statement Tuesday.

The agency is currently feeding 4.1 million inside Syria, WFP spokeswoman Bettina Luescher told the AP in New York. Funding shortfalls meant the WFP had to cut the number of calories in each food basket by 20 percent in March, and the agency projects the April baskets will be 16 percent below the optimum number of calories. She said it costs the WFP $40 million a week to feed Syrians and refugees from the civil war.

The number of those in need of food assistance is likely to rise in the next months as the dry conditions, compounded with the impact of the civil war, will result in the breakdown of the agricultural sector, the WFP statement said.

The U.N. agency estimated that the wheat production in Syria will be at 1.7 to 2 million tons this year — a record low. Syria’s wheat needs were at 5.1 million tons last year, the WFP said.

According to WFP’s figures, the areas most affected by drought are in Syria’s northwest that account for half of the country’s wheat production. In addition to the lack of rainfall, the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Hassakeh as well as Raqqa and Deir el Zour in the northeast have seen some of the worst fighting in the past two years.


Turkey ‘aided Islamist fighters’ in attack on Armenian town in Syria – The Telegraph


Turkey facilitated an attack carried out by Islamist fighters against the Armenian town of Kasab inside Syria, eyewitnesses have told the Telegraph.

Kasab, the ancestral home of the Armenian ethnic minority in Syria, which had remained relatively sheltered from the conflict in Syria.

Residents were woken on the morning of the attack, on March 21, to screams and cries.

“We woke to the sounds of the shelling. There was no time even to get dressed,” remembered Bedros, 45, an Armenian resident who asked not to be identified by his real name. “I grabbed my wife and my children. We had no time to take our things. Some people fled in their night gowns.”

Two days later Kasab was in the hands of an alliance of Islamist groups, including the jihadist Jabhat al-Nusra, aligned with al-Qaeda. Almost all of the villages approximately 2,000 inhabitants had fled.

The night of the attack a relative of Bedros had gone to one of the main border posts with Turkey, which is only lightly armed with Syrian troops, reportedly because of an agreement signed decades before the war.

“By the time he arrived the attack had begun. He saw the Islamist fighters standing with the Turkish army. They started launching their shells from the border”.

“It is not feasible that these groups could have crossed into Syria from where they did without the knowledge of the Turks,” Lama Fakih, the Syria and Lebanon researcher at HRW told the Telegraph.

The attack on Kasab sparked dark memories of the Ottoman massacres for its inhabitants, and a hysterical flurry across social media from pro-government sources claiming horrific massacres in the town.

Residents themselves brought up memories of massacres in 1909, and the genocide in 1915, when Kasab villagers were slaughter in their thousands by the Ottomans.

“We always thought the Turks would attack us one day,” said Bedros, the fellow family members who he is sharing his new lodgings in Lebanon, nodding as he spoke. “And with the attack on Kasab it was clear that Turkey helped. The attackers came from Turkish territory.”

Al-Nusra and the Islamic Front have pushed deeper into the terrain, taking control of Samra, giving them access to the coastline and engaging in fierce battles for ‘observatory 45’, the highest mountain point in the area, and a strategically vital military position.

“You can see why we needed to take Kasab,” said Dr Mahmoud, diplomacy envoy for the Islamic Front.



Al Qaeda is bad unless it is fighting Assads army in Syria

A number of US drone strikes within few days have killed “dozens of suspected militants” of Al Qaeda in Yemen. This is considered as success in the US and is reported as good news in western press:

This is because in Yemen (just as in Afghanistan or Pakistan) Al Qaeda fighters or those with almost identical attitude and methods are considered terrorists. Not however in Syria, where their existence and relevance  is either denied or belittled. Thus, it is tolerated by the US, UK, France, Turkey and implicitly also by Israel that the Syrian Nusra Front is non other than the local branch of Al Qaeda and that most supposedly “moderate” rebel groups closely and regularly cooperate with the Nusra.


Iran: President Rohani speaks up for gender equality in Women’s Day speech

One day after Iran’s Supreme Leader denounced gender equality as a Western cliche, Iranian President Hassan Rohani stressed the need for gender equality in all strata of the country, adding “the fear of women’s presence and their excellence” should not be attributed to Islam and religion.

“Those who fear the presence and excellence of women and have such beliefs should not attribute these ideas to Islam, the religion or the Quran,” Rohani said.

In an echo of Ayatollah Khamenei’s concern that working outside the house can distract women from paying attention to their families, Rohani said: “A father that enters society does not forget his paternal responsibilities, nor does a mother give up her maternal responsibilities once she enters society.”

The Iranian president stressed the need for “equal opportunities, equal immunity and equal social rights” and added: “I confess that there are still plenty of shortcomings in women’s rights and gender issues in the country.”

Hassan Rohani’s speech marked Iranian Women’s Day, which is celebrated on the birthday of Fatemeh, the daughter of Muslim Prophet Mohammad.

More info + pictures:



Very interesting – British Journalist reports from inside Syria – THE TELEGRAPH


The West may oppose Assad’s regime, but on the streets of the capital the people fear a greater evil.

Several of its suburbs are held by rebel fighters, who pound government-held areas with mortars.

most people live under the shadow of constant attack.

Many of the shells land harmlessly, or do not explode. Others cause mayhem. On Tuesday, one struck a school in Bab Touma (St Thomas’s Gate), killing one child and wounding roughly 40. And over the past few days the volume of the bombardment has escalated sharply.

Over the past few days, I have talked to shopkeepers, students, soldiers, doctors, a dentist, MPs and government ministers (including the minister for tourism, who must have the most thankless job in the world). On the basis of these conversations, I would judge not just that support for the regime is holding up, but that President Assad could very well win a popular election, even if carried out on a free and fair basis.

I found – to my surprise – that even people outside the governing Ba’ath party, including some of Assad’s political opponents, said they would support him.

People here see their country as being threatened by foreign powers (above all Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, all backed by the West) who are sponsoring the jihadist groups that make up the opposition. I was struck by the fact that this argument is not made only by the Alawite coterie around the president. I also heard it from Sunni Muslims, Christians and members of the various other cultural and religious groups that abound in Syria.

Only a handful of members of Assad’s 30-strong cabinet (I was told two) are Alawite. The prime minister is Sunni, as are the interior minister, the justice minister, the foreign minister, even the defence minister. The delegation that travelled to Geneva for the failed peace talks several months ago was also almost entirely composed of Sunni Muslims (though they would probably reject sectarian terms, and prefer to think of themselves just as Syrians).

I do think the words of my shopkeeper friend are worth pondering. If the insurgents who killed his mother win the war, there will be no Christian churches in Syria any more (just as there aren’t in Saudi Arabia at the moment). Life will be similarly terrible for many of the ordinary Muslims who make up the great majority of the population.

There are no “good guys” in Syria’s civil war. But we should not be blind to the fact that there is a project out there to destroy its rich, pluralist and unbelievably intricate culture and replace it with a monochrome version of Wahhabi Islam, of the kind favoured by Saudi mullahs. And for reasons that history may come to judge very severely, Britain, the United States, and the West have been aiding and abetting this project.

The Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program That Wasn’t

“the US intelligence community, since its well-known November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, has continued to be very clear on the pubic record about its conclusion that Iran has not had a nuclear weapons program since 2003…The text of the indictment reveals that the reference to a “nuclear weapons program” was yet another iteration of a rhetorical device used often in the past to portray Iran’s gas centrifuge enrichment program as equivalent to the development of nuclear weapons.”

Backgrounds on the US-Iranian “nuclear standoff”: