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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The American Freedom Challenge Comes From Within

Haji Abdollahi Sefid Kasseh, a 72 year old Iranian traveled all the way from far northeastern province of Khorassan to Tehran so he could fill out a questioners in order to be screened to be a candidate for President. The old man may not exactly be an odds on favorite to be the next President of Iran, but his message was simple and interesting.

If Haji Abdollahi Sefid Kasseh were to become Iran's next president, he says that he would not shy away from working to restore ties with the United States after a quarter of a century of bitter animosity on both sides. And how would he do this? He said he would sit down at the table with President George W. Bush and tell him “we are all brothers”. “We have to teach our arts to others and they should teach us theirs,” is how he explained his simple diplomatic formula. He adds, “And my art is poetry.”

Such a meeting, however unlikely, would be interesting. Until recently, American publishers and editors were restricted from publishing works in collaboration with authors from various U.S.-sanctioned countries, Iran among them. These rules have been somewhat eased, but the government continues to assert authority to categorically approve editing and publishing activities — a power that has questionable authority according to many lawyers who represent U.S. publishers and editors.

So here is this humble 72 year old Iranian poet who believes there is something beneficial about the exchange of culture between these two nations who are at each others throats. Then you have the President of the most powerful nation in the world... A nation who's basic foundation was built upon the principal of free expression of ideas, freedom to practice religious beliefs of one's own choice apart from the state's interference and a free press. So I have to wonder why our government remains so fearful of writers and poets that it feel it must protest us from their works by exercising censorship and control over their material.




Sources: NM&L and Daily Times
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