I figured that I might as well respond to this...not that it may do any good, but what could it hurt?
This was kindly picked up by Mr. Eftekhari at the Mehr News Agency, the official news agency of Iran and published in both Farsi and English, as well as was published in the Tehran Times.
In November of 2006, President Ahmedinejad published his address to the American people. He stated, “While Divine providence has placed Iran and the United States geographically far apart, we should be cognizant that human values and our common human spirit, which proclaim the dignity and exalted worth of all human beings, have brought our two great nations of Iran and the United States closer together.” It is unfortunate that the Iranian Foreign Ministry does not share his view and have refused our request for visas.
I can understand the frustration regarding the press restrictions imposed on President Ahmedinejad when he visited the US. As free speech is valued in my country and a right granted to its citizens, personally I do not see any reason why it should be an issue for a visiting President. However, I am a private citizen, not a member of my country’s government, nor it’s military or affiliated with a press organization. I have no direct input into government policies, just the same as a private citizen in Iran would have regarding their government’s policies.
It is precisely this frustration we are trying to address. There is so little information available to the West about Iran, and virtually no positive information. It is easy to be angry and frustrated about this, the difficult part is to take responsibility and do something positive to change the situation.
This year, the Iranian people will cast their vote for their President. As Mr. Shamaqdari rightly stated, We the People of the Islamic Republic of Iran will be done to show how democracy works in Iran and how the Iranian people get involved. We are not interested in who wins, but rather what is the process. I don’t see how this could be anything but a positive portrayal of Iran and it’s people, not a sensational one.
I was invited to come to Iran and I take that very seriously. Mr. Shamaqdari and Mr. Eslamloo have both been supportive and generous with their time and information. The Iranian friends and associates I have in the UAE and US all have this quality, they are an open, generous people. We all need to work to promote understanding between different cultures. However this is virtually impossible unless different cultures are allowed to learn more about each other. It is very easy to fear something you don’t understand and prejudice against a religion, race or culture, starts with fear.
I would hope that after some reflection, the Iranian Foreign Ministry would realize that our goal is to be supportive and interested in their democratic process, not negative and that they reverse their decision regarding our coming to Iran to film.