February 08, 2008

Tonight's feature: Yazd Iran, uranium mine - via CNN

Call me media calloused, but when CNN prints something human about Iran, I am literally shocked. This report took me very much by surprise. A humanesque portrait of an Iranian town put in a CNN news item - must be a mistake.

But at first glance it seemed to be fair. Then I put my thinking cap on and wondered what they were selling.

This is an attempt to put a spotlight on Iran as a nuclear DANGER - this is a poison pill with a chocolate wrapper. Notice you don't see a single Iranian face so you are left with no one to relate to AND you are led to believe that they must be inferior to not want "modernization" AND you are directed to look away from the fear resting in Iranian hearts today - fear of an impending US and the Coalition of the willing attack on the indigenous peoples of Iran/Persia.


Shame CNN! We are not ALL stoopid. Why don't you show us the very frightened women and children in Iran at this hour? Tell us about the unique and spiritual Iranians by letting them speak, don't shove platitudes and political "agendas" in our faces. Why use the word "yellowcake" when you know that it implies WMDs - you are part of the Operation Mockingbird squad that made it that way.

A very tired-of-the-bullshit mother,

Yazd: Welcome to the desert

YAZD, Iran (CNN) -- Deep in the desert, the oasis city of Yazd is unlike any other in Iran.

With its historic mosques, minarets and ancient clay buildings Yazd has resisted other Iranian cities' rush for modernity.

Once an important station on the Silk Road, with its historic mosques, minarets and ancient clay buildings, Yazd has resisted other Iranian cities' rush for modernity.

It may possibly be the most beautiful desert city in the world.

The word "Yazd" means "worship" -- apt since Yazd is known in the Islamic Republic as "the City of Muslims."

Most of its half a million population follow the Islamic faith devoutly. Yet for a city renowned for its religious conservatism, Yazd is far more tolerant and open-minded than cities more accustomed to tourists such as Isfahan and Shiraz.

This may be because Yazd is also the birthplace of the Zoroastrian religion.

Very little is known about Zoroastrianism in the West but its influence is far reaching. It is uniquely important in the history of religion because of its formative links to both western and eastern beliefs.

It is considered by many to be the world's first monotheistic religion, pre-dating Islam and almost certainly influencing Judaism.

Before the Islamic conquests (633 - 656), Zoroastrianism was the state religion of the Persian empire.

"This is a very honest city because Zoroastrianism stresses the importance of truth," said one shopkeeper when asked about the legacy of the faith. "And you'll never get ripped off here!"

Yazd is place where centuries-old traditions remain contemporary, especially in the old part of the city. Vital, beautiful and vast, the old town brings to life an Iran immortalized in ancient scriptures and eloquent poems.

Centuries of history have passed through its streets and alleyways. Alexander the Great marched through Yazd on his way to India, and a dozen or so centuries later Marco Polo dropped by for a visit.

Genuinely frozen in time, unlike in Rome or other historic cities, Yazd's old neighborhood is a poor district that has retained much of its character simply because its inhabitants cannot afford to "improve" on ancient building materials and methods.

It is this sense of archaism that makes the city so unique. The streets are narrow and labyrinthine, leading one moment towards sunset and the next towards sunrise.

They take so many turns and there are so many dead-ends, small hidden squares and bazaars that you can spend hours in one part of a neighborhood and not find your way out.

The fragrance of rare spices and tropical fruits waft around every corner, the sound of laughter and argument coupled with the occasional crowing of roosters can be heard without ever seeing anyone.

Walls are adobe and mud brick, taking on a golden hue under the sunlight and blending naturally into the desert landscape. In fact, the color of clay is the color of the whole city.

Buildings have stained glass windows which not only soften the unforgiving desert sunlight, but also deter flies from entry. Traditional heavy wooden doors grace many of the older homes. Most still have customary "male and female" knockers. These phallic-shaped knockers generate different tones when used, thus calling the correct party to the door -- remnants of a more prudent time.

The portals seem to open into a world of dark corridors and central courtyards with old trees around small reflecting pools. Most houses have curved ceilings and two entrances, one for men and one for women and the more splendid buildings boast the presence of gorgeous wind-catchers on their roofs.

These wind-catchers or "Badgirs" are one of the city's wonders. They're designed to capture the rare desert breeze and then direct it down to the interior of the house. The trapped air is then intensified as it is blown onto interior pools, which in turn cool the air further and allow it to circulate inside via hallways and passageways to various rooms -- almost like an ancient air conditioning system.

Despite (and perhaps because of) the unmerciful adversities of living in a desert, the people of Yazd have managed to create insurmountable beauty. This is not only represented in their architecture; but also in many other products synonymous with Yazd.

The Termeh, for example, is a gorgeous hand-made silk tapestry, woven for centuries and used in everything from bed spreads to Quran covers.

Confectionery also has a long history in Yazd. Sweets are various and divine, melting on the tongue with hidden flavors of rose-water and pistachio and almonds.

Today, Yazd is also known for "yellow cake," which is not a dessert but an element in the uranium mines. "Yazd would be the first place to be bombed if there is a war," said Behzad, a young university student.

However, beyond all this wonderment and beauty one thing stands out above all others; the people of Yazd.

The kindness and hospitality of Yazdis is yet another remarkable and distinctive aspect of the city. Time spent with people of this city leaves a striking impression that lasts longer than any monument, attraction or landmark. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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