Thursday, June 11, 2009

Liar, Liar Pants on fire

I recently cut my hair very short. When I first got to Shiraz a few days ago, an auntie of mine told me my face has gotten a bit chubby - now that I am pregnant. My granny said, no it's probably because I cut my hair that my face seems bigger, because I haven't really gained weight yet. My auntie proceeded to tell my how much long hair suits me. Hmm, should I that a compliment? Yes, I should.

Beauty is a very important concept in Iran, like the entire Middle East really. Long hair definitely represents beauty for women (you should have seen the looks on the faces when I insisted that the stylist chop it all off). "Why did you cut it?" people ask, as if I had some kind of disease, or was struck briefly mad.

Even in the presidential race, beauty has been one issue, for some people at least. Everyone complimented Michelle Obama's most recent outfit, discussing her great but minimalist style. One woman here commented, while watching Moussavi speak, "now that would be a good looking president!" And everyone knows of a certain President whose looks, according to many, has tainted the image of generally good-looking Iranians. From the beginning of his presidency jokes about his ugly looks have been prolific.

This is nothing new, and it's not just in Iran of course. Something new however, has been the presence of women - specifically Mir Hossein Moussavi's wife Zahra Rahnavard - in the campaign spotlights. For the first time in Iran, a candidates wife has campaigned along side him. In one interview, when asked if she did this because of the popularity of Michelle Obama (many parallels have been drawn between the Iranian campaigns and Obama's), she said no she did it because it is a normal thing around the world and that a woman should not be hiding in the house. She should stand next to her partner and her role can be very useful.

One of Ahmadinejad's staunch supporters, journalist Fatemeh Rajabi, sees this, however, as exploitation of woman. According to Rajabi, that a woman is being used as a pawn in her husband's campaign, as she sits beside him, silently, it is against Islam and women's rights. But Rahnavard did not seem at all to be a silent or passive bystander.



Last night AN came on national TV one last time - he had asked if he can defend himself and actually more so "the dear nation of Iran" against unfair accusations. He once again repeated, without mentioning specific names, all the wonderful things his government has done in the past four years, and that if he was a liar - as everyone claims - then how come he is so proud? One who lies and one who is afraid just doesn't go together, according to him. He also mentioned once again, a certain person (referring to Rahnavard) who has unfairly gotten her PHD and even teaches at university - which is a disrespect to all the professors who studied for 10 years, etc.

Lies and liars have been a central theme in the campaigns.

"Lies Forbidden" - in a rhyming word play with "Entrance Forbidden"
"Doroogh Mamnoo" ("Vorood Mamnoo")

It has now come out that Rahnavard plans to sue AN, who very openly defamed her on national TV a few days ago during the debate with her husband.

Yesterday there was a huge rally for AN in the streets of Shiraz, following a speech in support of him at the Hafez shrine's hall. The crowds of AN fans were followed by the green branch wielding Mousavi fans. Rumors are circulating that some of the AN supporters got a bit violent, throwing stones and getting in fights. This morning the streets have been quite thoroughly cleaned.

According to some sources, Moussavi is up at 54%, and taking the lead in 10 major cities, while AN is at 39%. Anything could happen though...although everyone is quite certain that a record will be set tomorrow with participation in the elections.

Another first has been the extensive use on online campaigning - especially on Facebook and especially with Moussavi reporters.

The aging Karroubi (who has also promised to put a woman in his cabinet, and to advocate for women's rights) has said he won't sleep after his prayers on Friday - promising not to let any election shenanigans slip in his wake. Rafsanjani has called for a clean election.


Today it is quiet, after, and before the storm......

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