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Jahanshah Javid

Age: 56 |

Birth City: آبادان |

Joined on October 02, 2012

The conductor smashing Iranian taboos over women, and music

Nezhat Amiri’s recent high-profile performance caps a 38-year fight for recognition

The Guardian: In her 38-year career, which is as long as the history of the Islamic republic, Iran’s first and only female conductor had led as many public performances as the number of fingers that hold her baton.

Last month, however, Nezhat Amiri conducted a 71-member orchestra performing at Tehran’s most prestigious concert hall – a remarkable milestone in a country where it is considered taboo for state TV to show musical instruments, women are not allowed to sing solo and female musicians have been prevented from going on stage in provincial cities.

“From the beginning, I’ve swum against the current – I wasn’t seen, the society didn’t make any effort to nurture my skills and the ruling establishment turned its back on me,” Amiri, 57, told the Guardian. “But I’m still doing it, I’m showing that there are ways, and there will always be.”

Amiri’s performance, part of the annual state Fajr music festival, brought 55 musicians and a 16-member choir – with women making up almost half of both groups – on stage for two hours, to play three pieces by masters of Persian classical music, including a work by the legendary composer Morteza Hannaneh, for the first time.

The Naghmeh-Baran (the melody of rain) ensemble had been practising for six months. All of them, including Amiri, worked for free. It was Amiri’s first performance on such a large scale in 12 years, and took place at Vahdat auditorium, which was one of the world’s best-equipped modern opera houses at the time of its inauguration, prior to the 1979 Islamic revolution. Even then, when Tehran hosted many music and dance performances, no Iranian female conductor appeared on the Vahdat stage.

Amiri’s most recent performance received unprecedented attention inside Iran. The reformist Ghanoon daily published an interview with her image on its front page alongside a headline quote: “I don’t even earn as much as a construction worker.”

Press TV, Iran’s state English-language network broadcasting for a foreign audience, featured her performance. But restrictions still remain on domestic TV. One band, Pallet, once mimed their performance without their instruments, in a subtle protest that circumvented the censors >>>

Soraya's double

Hanging around my window. 

Rouhani in Hyderabad


New Indian Express: With a call for unity among Muslims across the world and the announcement of his readiness to simplify visa procedure for Indians, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Friday wound up the first leg of his India visit.

In a rare gesture, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is a senior Shia cleric too, visited the historic Makkah Masjid, a Sunni mosque, to offer Friday prayers and called for unity among Muslims across the world.

Addressing the congregation after the prayers, he said unity among Shias, Sunnis and other Islamic denominations was only solution to the problems faced by the Muslim world.

Rouhani urged Muslims to treat all human beings with love and affection in the true spirit of Islam.

On the second day of his three-day visit to India, he joined common worshippers in offering prayers at the 17th century mosque, noting that Friday prayers symbolize the unity among Muslims as they come together to pray.

"If Islam is presented before the world in true sense, then the whole world will love this religion," he said >>>


Saw this sign tonight on the way back from dinner.

Inca Prince

Candelaria festival in Puno, Peru.

Currency devaluation rattles Iran


Al Jazeera: Iran has introduced new monetary measures to halt the devaluation of the country's currency, a move seen as a setback to President Hassan Rouhani's efforts to bring investment and create more jobs following a 2015 nuclear deal.

The rial has been on a downward spiral, falling to an all-time low against the US dollar on Wednesday, when it traded for 50,000 rials, 30 percent higher than its value in August 2017.

But the rial posted a slight rebound later in the day, when police arrested black-market currency dealers, shut down a number of exchange offices and blocked hundreds of bank accounts owned by major currency traders, local media reported.

According to the Arman-e Emrooz newspaper, 755 bank accounts were also blocked as part of the police operation.

For many Iranians, the dollar-to-rial exchange rate is an indicator of the country's overall economic climate.

In response to the plunge, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) announced plans for the presale of gold coins and sales of Certificates of Deposit (CDs) with an interest rate of 20 percent for a one-year term.

The measures were meant to deter speculators from continuing to bet against the rial as they had been doing over the past months, which accelerated the currency's drop in value.
Economic woes

High levels of non-performing loans, coupled with the government's inability to pump cash into the economy amid a drop in the price of oil, have strained Iran's economy.

The central bank has tried to contain the financial crisis, however, through structural reforms.

"The central bank used to issue the CDs at a rate of 16-17 percent. Now it will increase it to 20 percent, with the aim of creating financial stability," Pouya Jabal-Ameli, a CBI analyst, told Al Jazeera.

Over the past year, despite resistance by the banking sector, the central bank has also tried to reduce interest rates on deposits from more than 20 percent to 15 percent.

The move is aimed at encouraging Iranians to withdraw their money from banks and invest it in small- and medium-sized businesses - to help fight against a slump in the industry as well as boost employment.

However, with the devaluation of the rial and the gaining of US dollar, cash stays primarily in the currency market instead of being invested in job creation. Buying foreign money is a type of investment for many Iranians - and the more the US dollar gains, the more demand increases, resulting in less investment in businesses.

The official unemployment rate stood at 11.7 percent in the summer of 2017, according to the Statistical Center of Iran. But the Iranian parliament's research agency puts the unofficial unemployment rate as high as 22.6 percent. 

Joblessness was one of the contributing factors to widespread protests, which erupted in late December and continued for days, spreading to dozens of cities across Iran >>>


In the garden watching me go out. 

Colorful men

In the Candelaria festival in Puno, Peru.

Meow Too

Valentino interfering with my work. 

The Iranian Entrepreneur Tackling Silicon Valley's Diversity Problem

Forbes: Silicon Valley has a well-documented diversity problem. Sepideh Nasiri, who often goes by Sepi, is an entrepreneur originally from Iran. She founded Persian Women In Tech (PWIT) just over two years ago, which aims to alter tech’s dreary statistics of women founders and engineers, with a focus on those of Iranian descent.

PWIT is a non-profit headquartered in Silicon Valley, Nasiri is its CEO. PWIT’s mission is to elevate the profile of Iranian women in tech, empower them and provide resources through its network. Next month on February 10, PWIT is expanding its purview to women in tech from MENA (Middle East North Africa) countries with its first conference, Women Of MENA In Tech at Oath in Sunnyvale, California.

The ebullient Nasiri is in her mid-30s and her professional life has been steeped in tech. Perhaps it was destiny that when she immigrated to the U.S. with her family by way of Germany in the 11th grade, she landed in Cupertino, CA, not far from Apple.

Her first job upon graduation from UCI was co-founding an on- and off-line magazine highlighting successful Iranians like Pierre Omidyar, the founder of Ebay among other startups including First Look Media.
From 2011 to 2014 Nasiri worked at Women 2.0, one of the earliest voices— the “grandmother” as she puts it—to bring more women into tech. Nasiri also advised early-stage startups and was a consultant to companies like Deloitte, HP, Twitter, Facebook and Google on issues of diversity.
The impetus behind PWIT happened when an Iranian startup founder friend of Nasiri’s asked her to recommend an Iranian female engineer; she wanted to diversify her engineering team. “I didn’t know anyone,” recalls Nasiri in disbelief, “I couldn’t say a name off the top of my head.” Taken aback, as Nasiri could easily rattle off people’s names, titles and departments of other ethnic group working in the tech industry, but not her own.
“That’s when I realized that even though I have this incredible network—not just of women, but people in tech—I wasn’t close to my own community,” says Nasiri.
Astonished by her own blind spot, Nasiri began contacting friends at Google, Facebook, Apple, Cisco and Oracle to inquire if there was some type of internal Iranian group. With the exception of Apple, which had a mailing list, no company had one. “That was very strange,” reflects Nasiri, “especially when you are talking 2015.” She was especially surprised by Google, as many top level employees were Iranian-born or of Iranian descent, including Omid Kordestani, the Chief Business Officer at the time, now at Twitter.
This gaping void inspired Nasiri and a friend to organize a casual wine and cheese gathering for Iranian women in tech. Seven women showed up. Nasiri planned additional events and attendance numbers nearly doubled with each gathering. “Fast forward to today,” says Nasiri enthusiastically, “we have just over 500 members in the Bay Area. All women, 90% technical backgrounds.”
Nasiri chose "Persian" over "Iranian" when naming PWIT because she felt Persian isn’t associated with religion, policies or politics. “It has to do with the cultural background of who we are,” explains Nasiri.
PWIT’s monthly events address topics of entrepreneurship, startups and engineering, from hiring data scientists to business legal structures. PWIT now operates in five U.S. cities; London was added as of October 2017. Everyone working in tech is welcome at PWIT events: males and females, Iranians and non-Iranians.