Saturday, 28 May 2011

As one door closes, a green door opens!

Today marked the end of my 2-year Involvement with Forestry Commission Scotland, and I have such mixed feelings about it! The project has been long, tiring, challenging, frustrating and incredibly dull (that is, the evaluation part any way!), however there are so many other facets to this journey that have been nothing less than life changing: I’ve met so many amazing people, have visited some beautiful wild places and above all, have watched people literally transformed in front of me, not because of our interventions, but simply by the power of unadulterated nature!
The project grew organically: a group of Asian Disabled people I had been working with in my last job, appealed to me to find other resources through which they could come together! In the current financial climate, there isn’t much space for frivolity! However it just so happened that my best friend had been appointed diversity Manager for the Forestry Commission, and she had money! Not only was she willing to share it, but she was willing to give me the cash I needed to create just what the group wanted! Now, they wanted to come together, but the nature part hadn’t really been on their agenda! Some people love nature, others do not, but for many disabled people, its something they feel indifferent about! The hell of “special schools” don’t prioritise such things! Moreover, woodlands and wild spaces are considered inaccessible to most wheelchair users, and ‘health and safety won’t permit blind people to go there! and so nature remains something outside of the real realm for most people! Something I wanted to overturn! Despite their reticence, I dragged them all out; in to a beautiful scented summer park back in March 2010 and let Mother earth do her thing! Within minutes of hearing the birds, walking free through the trees, dipping their feet in to a cool river, feeling the sun on their faces and eating berries and flowers from the trees: they were absolutely hooked! Over the months that followed I lead many other similar sessions with them, only I made them allot more interactive, getting the group to identify different birdsong, making bird boxes and taking photographs of their journey and the things that inspired them. I also worked with individual participants on their personal stories and either wrote them out free-flowing, or used the essence of them in poetry I later compiled. All of this will be displayed to the Scottish Government later on this year, along with a comprehensive evaluation and toolkit of what we did, how we did it and more importantly, why the new Government Administration Must prioritise funding for work like this.
For our final day, I had arranged a session with a leading herbalist, to focus on what can be gained from holistic health, herbal medicine, plants, flowers and pure living! I had been searching for the ideal herbalist for some time (tragedy struck when the man I wished to connect with on this moved back to India!), however soon after that, I was put in touch with Monica Wilde. Monica was a friend of a friend, and ironically, although I’ve bought food supplements and medication from her clinic through-out my adult Life (Napier’s in Glasgow’s West End), We had never actually met in person! She had been given my number and rang me up one Saturday evening to discuss the project. I can’t remember how many hours we talked for that night, but I remember being overcome with admiration and inspiration: I just couldn’t wait to work with her!
Monica told me about her life: she was the eldest of 5 children, and by aged 6, she already had significant caring responsibilities! She was born in London, the daughter of a lawyer father and a somewhat bohemian mother! They didn’t have direct contact with nature given inner-city London! However all that was to change! Her mother’s wilde spirit persuaded her father to take up a diplomatic position in Africa, thus sparking a life of travel and discovery around the continent. Monica’s parents would separate a few years after the move, thus forcing her to find the strength within herself to adequately support the siblings under her care! Monica recalled how resorting to nature in Africa was a matter of course! There were no hospitals close to them, and in any case, hospitals were places of disease in Africa: not of healing! She recalled how her brother while running, fell and split his toes open after snagging his foot in a drain cover and how she laid him down and anaesthetised him with what she now knows to be NLP, (and what she just put down to child psychology at the time!). At aged 13, Monica had bandaged and set his ankle and stitched his toes back together, but she’d done much more than that! She had only just begun to shape her career path and her life’s work! Despite the obvious pool towards medicine, (be it conventional or homeopathic), Monica was not interested in book learning, rather, she wanted to take her aptitude for healing and communing with nature to the common man, to learn what she knows and at least develop enough basic knowledge to start enjoying nature for themselves, or healing themselves of every day coughs, colds, aches and pains!
By Day, Monica is the Chief Executive of Napier’s, the oldest and most established herbalist in Scotland! And in her free time (I don’t know how she finds it!), she runs workshops and events sharing her love of nature and her knowledge of medicinal plants with communities around the country. This session would be the first she had carried out with a group of disabled people, though for some one with Monica’s depth and intuition, It didn’t show, just as you might expect! She sent around a questionnaire to my group, talking about their impairments, side affects from allopathic medicines and areas they were interested in learning about. The bulk of her session was general, but with a chance for every one to interact and ask questions, and later opportunity for each participant to connect with Monica re: their specific health issues. She took the group for a walk around the woodlands, identifying plants and their uses. I was continually reminded of the Qur’anic ayats and the hadaith that tell us there is a cure for every thing in the earth: it is simply up to us to find it! Monica talked about friends she has cured of cancer through Natural interventions and about the power of the mind in healing and gentle recovery. The more I listened to her speak, the more I affirmed my belief that so much of our modern-day concepts of disability are not actually health-generated, rather they come from the limitations placed on people by society, and by medical professionals in particular! Some one receiving treatment from a doctor/hospital is a ‘Patient, thus affirming notions of control, subservience and obedience. Diseases are fought, not healed, if cancer is overcome, the patient becomes a survivor! There is little time or attention given to the individual needs of those seeking treatment, and often the side affects of so many treatments are incredibly harsh, so harsh in fact that it often becomes impossible to determine the original illness from the drug induced symptoms now being experienced!
If you add this to compounded beliefs in society that Disabled people need to be cared for, contained, looked after, limited or be given “special treatment” as opposed to equal treatment, it is no wonder so many of us are so ill! I’m not just talking about impairments here, rather about the sadness, the low mood, the silence, the lack of ambition, the fear of living, the lack of positive energy, focused thoughts and centred living that tends to be part and parcel of many disabled people’s lives. I see so many people living dull, sheltered lives, not travelling, not daring to dream, not pushing the boundaries because they’ve never been given the right to, not living life on their own terms because of family or other socio-economic restrictions. Today, I watched a group of tired, disinterested individuals transform in to empowered, engaged, dynamic optimists who just couldn’t wait to take their new learning and thirst for nature back to their homes, friends and families!
Today, my group went away with armfuls of plants and bottles of juices they had extracted themselves, courtesy of Monica’s powerful manual juicing machines! They knew about the use of horsetail for treating lung conditions, ginger for treating migraine headaches, Elderberry syrup for treating flu, and so much more! I couldn’t stop writing and recording notes to myself through-out the day! It felt like fate had drawn me there as Reza and I are both interested in alternative health. Reza’s paternal family hail from the desert city of Kerman, known as the healing city! Moreover, his family are still referred to as ‘Hakeem (or the healers). For Centuries, they were the leading herbal experts in the city: and Reza’s paternal Grandfather owned a very successful herbal dispensary. Sadly, none of his sons showed interest or aptitude for taking it over, but we both feel the need to try and capture the knowledge that still exists within the family. During the days we visited Oshaan, dad used to wake me up for Fajar: and while the family slept, we’d walk by the river and he’d talk to me about mountain herbs and ancient tree bark and their cures in treating every thing from high blood pressure to glaucoma to the common cold and beyond!
Monica’s enthusiasm taught me not only how accessible nature really is to us all, but how shameful it is that so many non-Muslims understand and respect the sunnah, the healing properties of our earth far better than we do! As Muslims (and as shias), we really should be leaders in this area, living greener lifestyles and educating others in the process! Monica was fascinated by the hadaith of our Imams about nature and plants, and by Imam Ali’s seasonal food recommendations. What a wonderful tool this is for dawa, for shared learning and dialogue and a platform from which to work together.
I took so much from this day; and more than the outdoor sessions, the evaluation or any thing we’ve ever done, I feel like this group will take something tangible away from our time together: this project is over, but in many ways, it is only just beginning for most of them!
My notes are far too lengthy to post just now, but I’ll post extracts from Monica’s learning over the coming weeks! And if you’d like to pick up some tips of your own, why not visit her website: www.monicawilde.com

Thursday, 26 May 2011

May Means Updates (and another year in BlogLand!)

Now then; so I promised an update: and here it is! I have to say that all my good intentions re: blogging have really gone to the wall since the beginning of the year, and I won’t even fake any change in that as it will probably only get worse, (oh and its probably best not to mention the wedding series that I’ve never actually finished!).
Any way; where are we at! Well, one of the reasons for my lack of updates stems from the fact that I’ve returned to education! Its something that’s been on my mind for a while, and came to the forefront when I officially became one of the great unemployed!
As many of you know I’ve been writing for a long time: for work, for pleasure, for potential publication in the future! The thing is that my book is now at that point where it needs a caring committed editor: and good ones usually charge an arm and several legs for their time, and I ain’t got any going spare now have I!
The upshot was, if I wanted something doing, I’d have to do it myself; and so I’ve enrolled in a BA programme, studying English literature! I always wish I’d studied English after school rather than journalism, but better late than never, plus I feel the reflective nature of my current difficulties make me a prime candidate for English! The Programme is with the Open University, and as the nature of long-distance study is flexible all the way, I’ve chosen my core subjects to reflect both my love of literature and my need to improve my writing/editing abilities. Naturally I’ll test some of it over here, so feel free to comment and critique as much as you wish to!
In other news, Reza and I are no further forward with our case, (but I expect most of you guessed that!). We’ve taken a new lawyer, (whole other story but the first one wasn’t really working as hard as she could have for us), we’re using a new route for our next application, so we can only hope and pray it proves fruitful this time around. I won’t go on about how much pressure this is putting on us: I’m sure you can guess! But while I recognised that pressure on the face of it, I didn’t realise its internal/longer term impact till a recent hospital visit! Without going in to too much detail, I’ve developed some health problems (they are female specific and lasting), which truthfully I can only put down to stress, tension and more anxiety! How this will impact on our married life I just don’t know, its impossible to pre-empt the future at a million miles away; with time, comes certainty!
On a more positive note, we’ve had elections since my last update, and the Scottish Nationalists stole the show with a massive landslide victory! Despite the electoral system which was apparently designed to prevent such a huge majority! I worked tirelessly all through the campaign and the success/adrenaline was just a privilege to behold on every front! Osama’s cousin became a MSP: something MR Saeed never actually managed to achieve! Still, we won’t hold that against Hamza Yousef as he seems to be very different from the SIF Stooge!
Oh and there was the royal wedding too: William and Kathryn: and while I hated all the hype and the ridiculous amount of media attention it generated, the ceremony itself was truly captivating; and I admit to watching it countless times since the big day (though not in company!).

So where are we now? Well, same old legal stuff, my new degree course (lots of study), and continual job searching, hospital visits: oh and travelling! Over the next 2 months I’ll be visiting Azerbaijan, Ireland, London and Dartington, so while there won’t be much happening around here, I’ll have loads to tell you when I get back!
Those of you who have been here for a while may have noted that the blog will be 2 years old this weekend! Its amazing; I never thought I’d make it this far! So much has happened in these 2 years (good and bad), and shockingly, too much has stayed the same! However this space remains a joy; a sanctuary, a place to share, to hear and be heard; and a space to reflect on tears and joys gone by. I may not devote the same time and care to it, nor the same researched articles as before, but I value all your input and appreciate all the new followers who have joined over the past couple of months! The stats make interesting reading, and the fact that 22 of you do actually drop by here on a regular basis and declare the same by following means a great deal to me: I’m not interested in quantity, but quality really does matter to me.
All I ask of you my dear readers is to drop by when you can, and as another blog year ends and the next takes over, do remember me in your prayers; whatever happens in this New Year will be challenging, that much is clear to me, but with patience, courage and strength, there is no test too great! Inner strength comes through spiritual regeneration, and the love/prayers of others, so please do remember me as I remember you all,
On to a new chapter with firm footing and head held high! (and nothing about life being like a box of chocolates, or a bucket of mushrooms), (more of that some other time).
Peace and out.

Oh what a lovely tag!

Now, here’s a cool tag; I’ve not done one for a while, but this really hit the spot!
Pay attention; you need to pass it on remember!
If I were a month, I’d be September!
If I were a day of the week, I’d be Sunday!
If I were a time of day, I’d be midnight!
If I were a planet, I’d be earth!
If I were an animal, I’d be a Persian Cat!
If I were a direction, I’d be East!
If I were a piece of furniture, I’d be a 4-poster Bed!
If I were a liquid, I’d be black coffee!
If I were a gemstone, I’d be a sapphire
If I were a tree, I’d be a Walnut.
If I were a tool, I’d be a paint brush!
If I were a flower, I’d be a pink carnation.
If I were a kind of weather, I’d be summer rain.
If I were a musical instrument, I’d be a piano.
If I were a colour, I’d be black.
If I were an emotion, I’d be sensitive.
If I were a fruit, I’d be a persimmon.
If I were a sound, I’d be birdsong.
If I were an element, I’d be oxygen.
If I were a car, I’d be vintage.
If I were a food, I’d be student biriani!
If I were a place, I’d be Karachi!
If I were a taste, I’d be chilly hot with coriander!
If I were a scent, I’d be pure sandalwood.
If I were an item of clothing, I’d be your most comfortable worn out pyjamas!
If I were a body part, I’d be a heart.
If I were a facial expression I’d be ‘HUH?
If I were a song, I’d be

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If I were a pair of shoes, I’d be sparkly sandals.
Now: …, what would you be?
Just because people are busy, and because not every one can be bothered with tags (myself included!), I won’t tag any one, this one is open, quite simply, to any one who wants to do it!
Complete it if you can though; the answers are fun and tell you allot about a person!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Challenged by the Church!

The blog has been fairly silent lately; and for that I apologise! Allot has been going on, (not good, not bad, mostly indifferent though!), however I promise to update on all that later this week!
For now, I am really looking for some input on this one!
Here’s the thing: I feel like going to the church!
It has been on my mind for a while, and has been peaked by 3 main issues: first, my mum said she wanted to go to church but didn’t feel like going alone! I offered to go with her, but I don’t think she wanted to explain away her hijab wearing daughter at a new church, so she didn’t take me up on my offer! (the Church thing stayed in my head though!).
Then: I suddenly found myself watching ‘BBC Songs of Praise every Sunday night, and tuning in to ‘Choral Even song on BBC Radio 3 (and often reading/singing along!). Then, I started working for my colleague Sangeev on a new church focused documentary he was making. This required me to visit loads of churches, (and also got me reading ‘Churches and how to read them), which I found fascinating! Tonight, I walked past the church at the end of my street (accidentally on purpose), and wandered inside (accidentally on purpose too!), to see what was going on!! It turns out that the building I assumed to be the church was actually their office building! However they gave me some literature (that too in an accessible format!), and they told me they were having an open evening which I could visit if I wanted to, and which would be taking place the very next day!
I came home, had a look at their evangelistic website (and then got very confused!), what is this church thing all about! Where has it come from, and why is it so prominent just now!

Why do I want to go to Church?
Well, I can tell you why not! Its not for doctrinal reasons; I found the discrepancies within Christianity a long time ago; and have long since got over them! Islam works for me and makes sense for me and there isn’t allot of spiritual gain I’d usurp from Christian worship!
Its not ‘faking it; If I attend to support my mother, or any one else in my family; I’ll be attending as a Muslim; and both she and the church will just have to get with my programme!
Its not really for socialisation; I have a vibrant, supportive circle of friends and struggle to keep up with my existing social commitments; never mind taking on new ones!

So: what is it! …., well, this is where I run in to trouble! For as much as I vehemently declare that its none of the above; there are some overlaps; and other than that; I can’t come up with a plausible argument either for nor against going!

The fact is, there is a gap; a gap in my spiritual life; a gap in my family relations; and a gap in my personal identity; a gap which is perfectly Church shaped! That is to say, not the fundamentalist cult like Church I grew up in, but a Church that fulfils a church-like purpose, yet maintains a distance and above all, a respect and reverence for other faiths and spiritual paths!
My mosque isn’t working for me!! Yeah; much as I hate to admit it, my mosque is failing me! I don’t know when it started; like many shias around the world, I live in a shia community that is more ethnically defined than spiritually. While I understand the predominant Urdu spoken at my local centre, its not my mother tongue and there are gaps in terms of what I gain; this became increasingly evident when Ahlulbayt TV began broadcasting English lectures and emphasising the obvious gaps in my knowledge! But while knowledge can be gained through self-study, the growth and communion gleaned through coming together for spiritual reflection and learning is something that just can’t be done in isolation, and despite all of my online shia brothers and sisters around the world, there is something about sharing a cup of tea, praying together or just talking it out!
There is something more to this gap though; something about childhood, about belonging, about feeling like I have a place in my community. Many of us struggle with belonging, but how do you juggle it as a revert disabled Muslim! There are just too many characteristics to prioritise; and where one fits, another does not! I am accepted as a shia Muslim in a shia mosque, yet I’m considered a non-believer at most suni centres! Moreover, the disability thing overshadows all other characteristics of difference while in the mosque! In a church, the attitude to both Islam and Christianity would be wrong; I know this logically, yet spiritually I feel drawn back there!
Its more for myself; the Church would never take me as I was; and if they did accept me, it would be with the intent of converting me somewhere along the line, thus destroying any illusion of equality I did have! All the same; I want to sing; (despite the Islamic attitude to music, communal singing and praise has always been incredibly important to me). I want to pray with other people. I want to be around people who put God first and who enjoy spiritual discussion and reaching their full spiritual potential. Maybe I should just go; attend a few services and get the church thing out of my system! On the other hand, if I do go, I may find myself embroiled in some high Church drama which I simply don’t have the time or inclination for right now! Moreover, it feels like cheating on my Muslim faithful (it even feels like cheating on myself!), and I wonder if the disadvantages outnumber any advantages their might be.
Is it just a reflection of the insecurity and chaos of my life right now, so that the need to regress to childhood comforts and familiarities is merely inevitable, or is there something stronger at work! Am I on the fringe of a faith crisis; or simply needing to further define my spiritual journey!
Please do comment; I really want to hear from other reverts on this; did you ever go through something like this? Would you recommend I go or not go! Or, if you are a Christian, would you ever consider visiting a mosque? Could you recommend any Churches that would welcome Muslims who simply want to observe while maintaining their own faith?
Am I just going mad?
I’ll leave you all to ponder this while I have another coffee and try to divert my attention to more useless pursuits!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

clearing (a little!) of the air!

This was the kind of post I was hoping never to write.
Its also the kind of post that I avoid and loathe reading on other blogs! Still, there is a time and a need for it; and sadly, that time for me, is right now!
When I started this blog, I had no specific direction or identity in mind for it. the blog would be as odd, disjointed and eclectic as I think I am personality wise! The blog began very person-centred, then became quite Islamic. There were posts about Pakistan, disability activism and random stuff. Then, when MR Iran came in to my world, my posts took on yet another dimension. All of these different shades, flavours, call them what you will! All of them matter to me and all of them will continue to be a feature! I like to think people read the blog because they enjoy one, or all, of these strands! I’m not stupid enough to think or assume that every one would, or should, agree with me; I’m open to debate and disagreement; and in either case; I hope people take something away with them; whether it is a smile, a new perspective; or an reaffirming that their chosen path works for them! (that’s why I read diverse blogs at any rate!).
So, Imagine my shock when I started receiving piles of hate mail; Emails, and comments on the blog, messages via the google profile etc; all talking about the problems people have with the Islamic, (no, actually the shia), nature of this blog! The comments range from “why do you have to write ‘Shia all the time?” (mild), to “you are a filthy shia kafir and you are going straight to hell!).
Now, It saddens me that people feel the need to be inflammatory, but that’s not what is annoying me, my question is; why care? Seriously! What does my hell bound destiny (or lack of it), have to do with you?
Do I write about being shia over here? You bet!
Do I have a problem with that? Obviously not!
Am I emphasising difference? Hmm, depends how you look at it! I don’t believe I emphasise difference to alienate others; and If I do, I am truly sorry for that; and I will accept any constructive guidance people wish to give in order to rectify it. I read blogs from all over the world; from Muslims of different schools and people of other faiths; and frankly, I read those blogs because of the differences they write about! It’s the difference that interests, educates and entertains me; If I want generic, I can turn on any diluted TV channel or documentary or a badly written tabloid article! Difference is what draws me in; and I hope I do the same for others.
Do I want people to agree with me? I don’t really care!
Of course; I do hope that if one of my readers has a hard time with shias, with disabled people or with other aspects of diversity that reading my words opens their mind and changes their point of view! But I’m not egotistical enough to regard myself as some sort of saviour for the ignorant! People will think what they will; and I have no problem with that; if they respect me, and I respect them, we’ll get along just fine regardless of our views and differences!
Do I have to use the word shia? Well yes! For me personally, yes I do! The word shia, literally translated means one who follows! The word is found in the bible and in the qur’an its self! It is found in other religious texts; when talking about the students, disciples or followers of a Prophet, teacher, guru etc, so a person might describe himself as a shia of Mohammed (PBUH), or of Ali (A.S), or of Umar and so on. Of course, the word has come to be synonymous with the sect, or worse, with sectarianism, and that is why you’ll often find me talking about the school of the Ahlulbayt (A.S), that is to say, those who follow the direct descendents, or the house, of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). Being a shia, and describing myself as the same is, I believe, pivotally important to defining my identity! Just in the same way that I talk about being blind, being a female, being married etc; being shia underpins all of these different elements and holds them together, creating the unique blend that is me! As previously stated, I don’t use the term to define difference or separation from other Muslims, however this is my faith and my direction of choice. People may wish to know about how I came to that decision. They may want to know about what kind of a Muslim I am; and I cannot talk about that without using this word, so sorry; no changes are going to happen there any time soon.
Do I think I am superior because of it?
Absolutely not! Who am I to think so! And here in I return to the original question; if I do not consider myself superior, what gives others the right to judge me as inferior? As I said before; I adopted this path, this particular school of thought after research, study and reflection. I chose it because I believe it is where Allah (SWT) wanted me to be, and the path I was rightly guided to. I am only a student and it is not for me to judge others or to pronounce some one’s Islam valid or invalid. If I question or debate with you, it is either because I am gaining more knowledge by doing so, or because I wish to clearly define my own viewpoint for your understanding. I know that many debate on the pretext of proving another wrong, which is fundamentally unbalanced from the outset. If I am in error, that is for me to answer to Allah (SWT), and similarly, if another is in error, I may offer advice as is offered to me, but I may not judge, nor make any sort of pronouncement about him/her. This is why I find these comments most hurtful. Why accuse me of fuelling sectarianism when you yourselves single me out as being a Non-Muslim because of my beliefs? Is it really an Islamicly just thing to do, to waste time Emailing another sister with vile obscenities and made-up fatwas of your own?
When all is said and done, we are all Muslims; servants of Allah (SWT) and only he (SWT) will decide between us based on our own hearts. As none know the secrets of another’s heart, (let alone the deviations within our own), its best that we keep our judgements to ourselves!
I apologise to those readers who are nothing to do with this, as well as to my non-Muslim readers who are doubtless wondering just how petty Muslims really are based on the above!
Let me conclude by reiterating once again; you are welcome to Email, to comment, to leave messages on the blog that contradict or disagree with me; I do not require my ego to be massaged and for the world to subscribe to Rosher’s revelations! All I ask is that we keep it clean, dignified and respectful each to the other; if your comments aren’t published here, it should stand to reason that they are indecent and not befitting a Muslim; whatever your sect! As Jesus (A.S) said, let he who is without sin cast the first stone!
OK; rant over, perhaps we could return to something more interesting now?

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

More Heartbreak from our homeland!

The below report on the death of yet another outstanding journalist in Iran is heartbreaking, and essential reading. Reporters without borders create a true, and harrowing picture of a wonderful man, matured in years and broken in spirit, rotting away to a point of bewilderment and indifference, the only escape from which was to take his own life!
Its hard to stomach, to even let your mind ask where the scholars were? Where were the activists? Where was the justice, the sympathy, the understanding that makes shia fiqh stand out from all the so-called Islam beneath it, yet nothing was done, and nothing changes as scholars and politicians continue to protect one another. As violence in the Middle East escalates, and as America celebrates the death of Bin Laden, the fate of Iran becomes even more unstable! Sure change is needed, but while no one but no one would advocate for yet more US Pillaging, when nothing is tolerated from within, we can only fear for the future!
Please recite sura Fatiha for Agha Pourzand, and pray for all those who fester in Hidden Iranian prisons, with neither release nor an end, with neither a listening ear nor a proven definitive trial and sentence. God Save Iran!
Reporters Without Borders is profoundly saddened by the death of journalist Siamak Pourzand, 80, a major cultural figure in Iran. Detained and under house
arrest for ten years, banned from leaving the country and separated from his family, Pourzand committed suicide on 29 April in Tehran.

We hold the Iranian authorities responsible for this gesture of despair. Despite several appeals to the authorities by his family and various human rights
organizations including Reporters Without Borders, not once did either President Mohammad Khatami or President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or the heads of judicial
system, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi and Sadegh Larijani, intercede on his behalf.

Pouzand’s death is a reminder that the Iranian regime is one of the most violent in the world for journalists. We address our most sincere condolences to
the Pourzand family, to his daughters and his wife, the lawyer Mehranghiz Kar, and to his colleagues.

Pourzand began his career in 1952 with the newspaper Bakhtar Emroz. Prior to the 1978 revolution, he had also worked for several film magazines, including
Paik Cinema and Sepid va siah, Ferdossi.

After Ayatollah Khomeini came to power, he was fired from the newspaper Kyhan. Despite harassment, he continued to work with independent newspapers before
taking over the management of Tehran’s artistic and cultural centre. He worked as a cultural commentator for several reformist newspapers after the reformist
Mohammed Khatami became president in 1997.

Pourzand was abducted in the street by security forces on 29 November 2001 and was held incommunicado for the first four months of his detention. He was
granted neither access to a lawyer nor medical care. Held for months in solitary confinement, he was tortured in an attempt to force him into a televised
confession. Accepting all the charges against him, Pourzand said he had absolutely no need to defend himself.

He was sentenced on 3 May 2002 to 11 years in prison on charges of “spying and undermining state security” and “links with monarchists and counter-revolutionaries.”
A Tehran court of appeal upheld the sentence on 7 July 2002.

In a letter published in 2003, his wife wrote: “He is in solitary confinement in the basement of Evin prison. According to a diagnosis made on 30 July 2003
by the Imam Khomeini Hospital in Tehran, he is suffering from arthritis in his neck and from worrying back problems requiring an operation.”

In recent years, Pourzand had spent his time under house arrest, with frequent hospital visits and constantly under threat from information ministry interrogators.
He was an eye-witness to crimes committed by the authorities in Iranian prisons. This was the reason for their refusal to allow him to leave the country.

On 8 March 2003, he telephoned his daughter in the United States to confirm that he was being put on trial again. “From now on, you can count me among the
dead,” he said.

Many journalists are currently in prison or have been granted a “conditional release” on payment of a large amount of bail. Those who are in poor health
are denied the treatment they need. Reporters Without Borders calls for the Special Rapporteur on Iran to be sent to the country urgently, in accordance
with the resolution voted by the United Nations Human Rights Council on 24 March.