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Censoring an Iranian Love Story - A Book Review

Shahriar Mandanipour’sCensoring an Iranian Love Story (2009, Translated by Sara Khalili) is one of the strangest and most interesting books I read. You see, I always had a thing for Persian culture, but being an Egyptian today I know it is almost impossible to be able to witness its greatness through my own two eyes. So when I found Censoring an Iranian Love Story, it was like a treasure to me, hoping it would give me an idea about the modern-day Iran without having to visit! So let me tell you a thing or two about this book.

The Story
As Raha Namy puts it in the Quarterly Conversation, Censoring an Iranian Love Story is a multi-layered story. This - more than slightly - surreal tale tries to give numerous details about the Iranian culture and censorship in a mix of real and fictional story layers that continuously intersect, sometimes confusing between what is real and what is fictional, making it hard for the non-Iranian reader to build a real idea about Iran.

Layer 1
The innermost laye…

The January 25 Revolution: lest we forget - Day 15: Expansion

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011


Wael Ghonim's interview gave an even greater momentum to the Revolution. Tahrir today is full, more than it has ever been. The Square itself could not carry all protesters, thus the protests and the sit-in expand in neighboring streets, reaching the parliament and cabinet buildings. It expands in Cairo and all over the Good Land, and it becomes unstoppable even more than it already was.
Every time we seem to lose hope something happens to make the dream come closer...

First Post - Previous Post

The January 25 Revolution: lest we forget - Day 14: civil disobedience

Monday, February 7th, 2011


On days like this, when there is no million man protest planned, it's up to those at the sit-in and the loyal protesters to keep the Revolution's momentum going. And these people take their duty seriously. Tahrir Square and other squares all over Egypt are full, yet again. People feel that this may take longer that what we've first expected, and this surely is something to worry about, but to this moment resilience still wins.
The plan to keep people busy with work has failed miserably; they instead have started protesting at their workplace. And instead of having one Square filled with protesters, we now have a full Square as well as many other protests all around Cairo and elsewhere. This has happened without any prior planning, but since it did, calls for civil disobedience emerged. 
Wael Ghonim is finally released, and his first televised interview leaves everyone speechless. It was rational and emotional, it was heart-felt and wise. When he cri…

The January 25 Revolution: lest we forget - Day 13: life and power

Sunday, February 6th, 2011


On a pharaonic temple's wall, our ancestors usually carved this: "the pharaoh is full of life and power". The pharaoh, unlike what is commonly known, in prosperous times the was a just, respected and loved ruler, he was a symbol of Egypt. Thousand of years later, and the Good Land is again filled with life and power. Walking around the squares of liberty all over the country, you feel life dazzling out of every pair of eyes of the young and old, you hear the power echoing in every chant.
Everyone is back to work, but since the curfew hours start at 3:00 pm, it's a half day. The trace of worry that lied in the back of our heads; that people might not be able to protest having to go to work, is now gone. Today is the first of the week's three million man protests, and the call is more the answered. Tahrir Square is full with protesters and festivities.
The Muslim Brotherhood are set to meet with Omar Suliman again tomorrow, to discuss power …

The January 25 Revolution: lest we forget - Day 12: rhythm

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

After one week of the country's public and private sector being completely closed,  it is now announced that work will resume tomorrow. Protesters ignore the announcement, and make one of their own. There will be a million man protest every other day; on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday. If Mubarak doesn't leave by then, there will be another escalation on Friday.
By now, the Revolution has acquired a stable rhythm, and the numbers of protesters have grown all over the Good Land. Everyone now knows the best route from their residence to the Square. They know what's best to wear and what not to wear. They know when to visit and how long to stay. They know what to take to those at the sit-in; it may be something as big as a tent or just a bag of cookies. Those at the sit-in know when to sleep, and where to sleep. They know when they should guard and when to be guarded. They know who they should trust and who not to count on.

The demands of the Revolution a…

The January 25 Revolution: lest we forget - Day 11: the spirit

Friday, February 4th, 2011


When you've faced death more than once in ten days, you acquire strength that overcomes fear, and when this happens, nothing really matters anymore. When this happens, you can stand against army tanks and fighter jets and continue to be as resilient as can be. When Egypt faced death on January 28 and February 2 all walls came down, one by one, fear died, talk of reconciliation dissolved, and the unpredictable feature was not a reason to worry anymore.
And so, on February 4th, the turnout in Tahrir Square and all other squares of the Good Land is far higher than that of the previous days. The spirit too is higher, much higher than the helicopters that keep hovering over our heads and are met with chants that our louder than usual.  Spirits are much higher that the last floor of the State Television building where an ugly old man sits trying to figure out what else to say to turn people against the Revolution. And they're definitely higher than voices of…

The January 25 Revolution: lest we forget - Day 10: unity

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

After the battle the Good Land becomes calm, but it's a fearful, angry calmness. Everyone remains in their place; those in the Square remain in the Square, those at home remain at home, but those who support Mubarak disappear. The Square that was yesterday divided between those who are full of hope and those about to give up is now united under faith that they will topple Mubarak, and fear of what may happen on this day or the next day. To bring back the spirit, protesters call for another million man protest on Friday.
The Internet finally being back leads people to see what others think. Yesterday everyone was fearful, angry, or at least dumbstruck. Today they are able to speak their mind more easily. To this day, many may have thought that there is unity, that everyone was supportive of the revolution, at least until the "emotional speech", but social media make the difference in opinions clear. Opposing pages emerge, and on each, discussion…