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Re: Greetings from Iran

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  • Andrius Kulikauskas
    Sahar! Thank you so much for your letter! It is great to hear your voice from Iran. This is a wonder of the Internet. And even more so, I believe, a miracle
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 2, 2004

      Thank you so much for your letter! It is great to hear your voice from
      Iran. This is a wonder of the Internet. And even more so, I believe, a
      miracle that in every life, and every faith, we can look and find the
      one same truth. This is why I love independent thinkers.

      I share our letters with our laboratory's groups that we are assembling
      in Arabic http://groups.yahoo.com/group/minciu_sodas_AR/
      and Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian

      I'm very excited about the developments in Iran, the growing concern for
      the freedom of thought, and the responsibility for action. I wish that
      the United States of America and other countries valued democracy more
      than stability, in developing partnerships. I imagine Iran is much more
      free than Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, in the sense that people are not
      afraid to seek democracy.

      I believe that today in the world there is a special need to organize
      Islamic independent thinkers like you. Our laboratory, Minciu Sodas,
      http://www.ms.lt, is open to everybody, all who "care about thinking".
      We want to include the widest variety. In particular, we want to
      include every kind of "minority", every individual who "thinks
      differently". Every change starts with such individuals. I think we
      need to be able to have a healthy critique of the "majority", which in
      terms of the power, is the "modern West". I believe that Islamic
      independent thinkers can help with healthy critique. I also think that
      they can help the West see that Islam is one faith but many lives, many
      voices. I think that, if we look deeply at the truths of life, we will
      find the common root, and so every outlook helps. I also imagine that in
      many Islamic countries, the independent thinkers are oppressed, and need
      our caring. I think we can build bridges across all of our cultures. I
      feel this a sound investment, and that our social efforts will establish
      an integrity that we may all leverage for good business.

      I share your essay further below.
      I very much look forward to your views.
      And please let us know how we might help you in your work and dreams!

      I add one small topic that perhaps you and others might comment on. As
      a man, I feel very uncomfortable that in the United States and elsewhere
      I am surrounded by images of women, especially magazine covers, who look
      like they want to encourage sexual inspection. It can be very difficult
      to avoid. It's like mental trash (just like television) and I feel it
      makes us less sensitive, less alive. It's awful to have this affect our
      sexual climate, expectations, attitudes which I think it does
      enormously. I don't understand why women don't react. I wish we had a
      culture which valued chastity, not of body, but of mind. In a sense we
      still have that in Lithuania. Amazingly, our language has no sexual
      curse words. The most nasty thing you can say is to "pollinate"
      somebody. And that is a new concept. Of course, I am sure that you
      have to struggle with opposite concerns. But I empathize with Islam in
      that I think it's not right that such a climate is forced upon us in the
      name of "market forces", "free enterprise", "freedom of speech".

      I also look to Islam for ideas on an economy without interest. I
      believe that it is much more helpful to look at the generation of wealth
      in terms of increasing its speed of circulation, rather than demanding a
      proportionate return. I write about this in my paper "An Economy for
      Giving Everything Away"
      http://www.ms.lt/en/workingopenly/givingaway.html I kind of doubt that
      anybody in Islam actually thinks seriously about alternative economics,
      but I hope I might be wrong.

      Finally, I will add that I myself am a Christian, but I value Islam as a
      faith that is honest and minimal. I imagine that Muhammed saw the
      beauty and truth of the teachings of Jesus: "love your enemy", "give
      everything away", "turn the other cheek", "pluck your eye out if it
      causes you to sin", "do not divorce", "be perfect". But I imagine he
      saw, Who can follow this? God, give us a faith that people can follow.
      And that is what I think Islam is. It is just a few simple rules.
      Like praying five times a day. And they make sense for a society. If
      the people follow them, the society functions. I was in Bosnia for
      about five weeks in all. I saw that the Muslims were the clear victims
      of an awfully vicious persecution by Christians. I saw that the Muslims
      were gentle. And they genuinely followed their faith. Whereas I know
      very few Christians who even try to follow Christ's teachings from the
      Sermon on the Mount. There are a lot of real Muslims, but not a lot of
      real Christians.

      I tried to understand, what does Islam mean to its believers? And
      everywhere I understood the same answer. In my words, Islam is just a
      "first approximation". Amazingly, I spoke to several Muslims about this,
      and they all accepted this as an idea I could hold. Christians think
      their faith is "perfect", but for Muslims, at least in Bosnia, I don't
      think this is important at all. Instead, they think that Islam works,
      it is practical. So they do not have to follow it to the letter.
      Instead, they have to keep to the spirit. Which they do very much.
      They do not worry too much about all the details, but they do worry a
      lot about taking the faith seriously. For one person, God helped them
      keep their mind during the war. For another, it was the strength to
      stay chaste. For another, Islam means that "you practice your faith,
      and I practice mine". These are practical matters, and especially, a
      tolerance that comes from attention to what works in practice. Christ is
      extremely intolerant of others, as far as doctrine is concerned, and
      Christianity is extremely dogmatic. Islam is a religion that
      specifically protects Christians and Jews. It is very tolerant, and I
      think it was a great shock to Christianity, that there could function a
      non-Christian society. I think the Crusaders brought this home, and I
      think it lead to the Renaissance. And I think the Islamic tolerance
      is perhaps even one of the original influences behind the American
      "separation of church and state". I suppose I oversimplify.

      Yet I want to say that I think Christ was correct. And I think the
      tragedy of Bosnia showed this. Islam works in an Islamic world. But it
      doesn't work when there are other states, Christian or barbarian. These
      don't follow any rules of tolerance or fair play. The Bosnians were the
      victims. But the Serbs are not sorry. They do not reach out to the
      Bosnians. Instead, the Bosnians are left to reach out to the Serbs. The
      Bosnian Muslims are the ones who forgive, who reach out, who make
      peace, who love their enemy, who turn the other cheek. They are the
      real Christians. So Christ was right. This behavior is necessary
      because that's what's needed with barbarians.

      I will add one more controversial topic. Because, as independent
      thinkers, we can try to look for truth, and we can think boldly,
      creatively, and perhaps find understanding. I want to say that history
      in Europe has shown that the Jews need to have a state to defend
      themselves. But after World War II, the European powers behaved wrongly
      by taking Palestine by force. The Jews were moving there peacefully,
      and I imagine they could have established themselves in Palestine with
      no trouble, perhaps even with harmony. But we Europeans were guilty of
      the Holocaust. Instead of giving the Jews part of Europe, such as
      Prussia, we gave them something we didn't rightfully own! Palestine.
      I hope, though, that we might use our creative minds to be supportive
      of the Jews because they suffer so much because of the wrongs of others.
      On the other hand, I find it bizarre that 1 billion Christians and 1
      billion Muslims agree that Jesus was the Messiah, but that for Jews this
      is not an option to consider. What are they expecting from a Messiah?
      I'm curious, I just don't know.

      I write this just to show the kinds of things I think. They may be
      right or wrong, but I hope they might show we can be fresh and creative,
      and that we may create our own new outlooks, and perhaps even find the
      one truth.

      With regard to Information Technology, you may know, but I want to say
      that Iran is a superpower of weblogs (along with the USA, Brazil and
      Poland). Weblogs are daily journals on the web, such as Flemming
      Funch's at http://ming.tv At http://blogtalk.net we got to meet Hossein
      Derakshan http://hoder.com/weblog/ and learn how weblogs have arisen in
      Iran as a platform for free speech.

      I know that I have shared many controversial thoughts, but I hope that
      creative dialogue might help us find shared values. I hope to learn
      from you and others. I'm excited by your courage. Please let me know
      how we may be helpful to you and Iran and all the world.


      Andrius Kulikauskas
      Minciu Sodas
      +370 52645950
      Vilnius, Lithuania

      sahar maranlou wrote:

      > Greetings from Iran
      > I am writing to you from the country which is trying to pass traditional
      > stage to modernity.
      > I am writing to you as the representative of the new generation of
      > Iranian women who desire to be active in development process.
      > I am writing to you as a Moslem who believes in God, good thought and
      > good attitude. How people think and how they act is that much, not their
      > religion.
      > I am writing to you as a human who like to keep of his dignity.
      > I am Sahar Maranlou. I'm a legal advisor and independent researcher. My
      > background is mostly related to human rights, social participation
      > (especially NGOs, CBOs) and legal structure for institutionalizing them.
      > I am very glad to be among you, the network full of good ideas for
      > building a better for all.
      > As the starting point for this digital interaction, I am sending to you
      > a short note on ICTs and Human based development. It explains my opinion
      > about ICTs.
      > Hope to have a better world for all
      > Sahar Maranlou
      > Legal advisor & researcher
      > Mobile: +98 912 159 260 1
      > Tehran-Iran


      ICTs for Human Based Development
      By: Sahar Maranlou

      Although this is a known approach that knowledge, information and
      communication are as the tools for development, the world summit on
      Information Society through the emphasizing on the Millennium
      Development Goals (a set of logical and time -bound targets include
      halving income poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary
      education, gender equality, reducing under- five mortality by
      two -thirds and maternal mortality by three -quarters, reversing
      the spread of HIV /AIDS, ensuring environmental satiability and
      developing a global partnership for development) could recall the
      common resolve that ICTs are not only technologies, but also the
      main instruments for human based development.

      Regarding the important question that: what is the next program?
      I think developing a common discourse of ICTs for human based
      development among different stockholders and between north and
      south countries can lead global society to make available the
      benefits of information and communication technologies for all
      people around the world in order to promote human rights and
      fundamental freedoms, including the right to development.

      Empowering and capacity building of people in different sectors
      (government, privet sector and civil society) can help them to
      reach a common understanding for solving the development
      challenges by use of Digital Opportunities. Developing
      partnership mechanisms especially in south countries are
      essential for re-iterating the global commitment to recognize
      the development challenges posed by the digital divide.

      On the other hand although the participatory development in
      information society is emphasizing on the involvement of
      the stockholders and social groups, we have no choice but to
      pay more attention to some of the social groups. The situation
      of youth is much more different in Information Society.
      Most of the ICT users, creators of ICT and future leaders
      are youth. The other important point is that as far as young
      people have been growing up in information society, they
      achieved very different experience by ITC which can be
      called "Digital Experience".

      More special attention to empowering youth in Information
      Society is one of the logical effects of young people's
      different situations in ITC.

      Let's making better world for all by sharing the benefits
      of ICTs in local, national, regional and international
      level through the recognizing the right to development of
      people, empowering them in ICTs and advocating the
      discourse that: ICTs for human based development.
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