Iran Gives Michelle Obama ‘Wet Gunpowder’ Award for Argo

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General Mohammad Reza Nagdi, commander of Iran’s Basij forces, gave the “Wet Gunpowder” award on Saturday to first lady Michelle Obama for her role in presenting the Best Picture Oscar to the film “Argo” at last year’s Academy Awards. The award is given to “someone who is against the Islamic Revolution” and who “against their own wishes, performs a service to the Iranian revolution.”

General Nagdi said that “if we spent billions to show the truth about the Oscars to the world we wouldn’t be able to do it, but this action from Obama’s spouse showed the truth about the Oscar awards to the world.” Many Iranian political figures believe that the American movie “Argo” is an anti-Iranian movie and feel that Michelle Obama’s presence via satellite to award it Best Picture was an indication of the White House’s influence over Hollywood. Nagdi added that “God showed America’s hand, and a film that is cheap, without content and inartistic that they picked for an Oscar award caused them disgrace.”

Iran’s English-language Press TV said that the first lady was officially invited to attend the ceremony, which took place in the southwestern city of Shalamcheh, Iran. The award will be handed over the US Interests Section at the Swiss Embassy in Tehran. The statue of the award is that of brain with dark glasses and hearing aids with a plaque of the Quranic verse: “Unwilling to hear, unwilling to speak, unwilling to see, then, they will not return to the way.”

Khamenei’s Lawyer Passes Away

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Ahmad Sadr Haj Seyed Javadi, one of the founding members of the Freedom Movement of Iran, died at the age of 96 on March 31 in Tehran. Under the Shah’s regime, Haj Seyed Javadi, a lawyer, represented many individuals who later became prominent figures in the Islamic Republic. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Islamic scholar and revolutionary thinker Ali Shariati, and Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri were just a few of his clients.

After the 1979 revolution Haj Seyed Javadi served as interior minister under Mehdi Bazargan’s interim government until Bazargan’s early resignation. In the last three decades, he was arrested and tried several times for his criticism of the government.

In the last few years, Haj Seyyed Javadi had taken to writing letters to Khamenei. In January of 2012 he wrote that he held Khamenei “religiously and legally” responsible for the state of the country and he criticized Khamenei for his support of Ahmadinejad. Many of the important aspects of the letter were translated into English by Muhammad Sahimi. In February of 2012 Haj Seyed Javadi wrote a letter to the people of Iran in which he “apologized” as “an individual who played a role in the founding of the government” and for the direction the revolution had taken.

Iranian media has largely ignored Haj Seyed Javadi’s death, although some websites covered his funeral procession. Opposition website Kaleme, which is close to Mir Hussein Mousavi, published a letter of condolence signed by 37 prominent political prisoners, including Abolfazl Ghadyiani and Mostafa Tajzadeh. BBC Persian has also wrote several thorough retrospectives on Haj Seyed Javadi’s extraordinary life.

‘Argo’ A Sign of America’s ‘Political Desperation,’ Says Iran Presidential Candidate

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Hojat Al-Islam Mostafa Pourmohammadi, presidential candidate and head of the Judiciary’s Inspection Organization, described the Oscar-winning film as “neither strong nor good in story or structure” to Mehr News agency on Sunday.

Pourmohammadi said that America’s “political desperation shows that America has reached a point that it needs to give a film like ‘Argo’ a prize.” He compared “Argo” to the Iranian film by Asghar Farhadi “A Separation,” which won the Best Foreign film Oscar last year. He said that “when we see ‘Argo,’ our admiration for ‘A Separation’ grows,” adding that “although there are critiques to be made of the film, as far as the message, capacity, originality and structure, [‘A Separation’] has room for praise.”

Most Iranian political figures have been skeptical of Iranian films that have reached critical acclaim in Europe and America and have accused the filmmakers of painting “a dark picture” of political or social life Iran. Pourmohammadi’s praise of “A Separation,” which centered on divorce and immigration, two increasingly prominent themes in Iranian life, seemed mostly a response to “Argo.”

“Argo” has reportedly been a popular movie on the black market in Iran. Pourmohammadi encouraged those who want to view the movie to watch it with a “critical” eye.

Renewed Calls for the Release of Mousavi and Karoubi

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A prominent political figure from the traditional right has renewed his calls for the release of opposition figures Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi from house arrest. Habibolla Asgarowladi, who heads the Followers of Imam and Supreme Leader Front, described the two-year house detention of the 2009 presidential candidates as “a lock that, if not opened, will cause problems again in the next elections.”

This is not the first time Asgarowladi has called for the release of the two opposition figures, nor is it the first time he has a used a lock analogy to describe their imprisonment and political situation.

Asgarowladi continued that “the lock was an attachment of Mousavi and Karoubi to the sedition [2009 post-election uprising]; while the Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] said that the seditionists were the Americans and the Zionists, and from this I deduced that there is a difference between the sedition and those who fell under the sedition.”

Asgarowladi also said that he believed that the Principalist 2+1 Coalition between Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Supreme Leader advisor Ali Akbar Velayati and GholamAli Haddad Adel was “rushed” and that they should have waited before making the announcement.

In reference to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s two terms, Asgarowladi said that the process of “consulting was trampled.” He added that “from the perspective of the Quran, consulting has a lot of value.” He critiqued Ahmadinejad for clashing with the different branches of the government. Asgarowladi said that bills “approved by parliament and the Guardian Council are laws, both Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] and Agha [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] have both confirmed this procedure. It is not correct for someone to say ‘I do not accept this procedure.’”

In regard to “war and peace,” Asgarowladi said that “according to the law, only the Supreme Leader can express his opinions” on these issues.

Iran to Sue Filmmakers of Argo

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Iran has enlisted the help of French lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre to sue the filmmakers of the award-winning film “Argo.”

At a meeting yesterday in Tehran with Seyyed Akbar Massoudpour, vice president for Parliament Legal Affairs and Provincial Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance, Coutant-Peyre said that “for me, Iran is a symbol and model of resistance against the West and I am happy to stand next to Iran in this direction, and to play a part in this great world movement.”

Massoudpour thanked Coutant-Peyre and said that “I am glad that in France there are still open-minded people such as yourself.”

When asked by a reporter how much the case would cost, Coutant-Peyre said that “as a lawyer I cannot say, but less than the production of a film.” She also said that she couldn’t say for certain her chances of success but that “the movement that Iran had started and the complaint against Hollywood is very valuable and can attract public opinion and create discussions. Also, it will stimulate curiosity that will result in people thinking about the reality and lies.”

In regards to the case Coutant-Peyre said that “we are not going to go after damages, but we want to challenge [the filmmakers] and encourage them to apologize.” She also said that they plan to target “the producers or distributors” of the film and that they cannot “target the entire Hollywood system.”

Coutant-Peyre is mostly widely known for her relationship and defense of Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, also known as Carlos the Jackal, who is serving a life sentence in France for the murder of two French agents.

Various Iranian political figures have called the Ben Afleck and George Clooney-produced “Argo” an “anti-Iranian” film and have suggested that its production and subsequent awards were politically motivated.

On CNN’s Fareed Zakaria March 2, Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazei called the film “technically weak” and said that it had “many mistakes.” Jam News cut a short clip of the interview in which Khazaei invited the filmmakers of “Argo” to travel to Iran so that the day following their visit “they will apologize to the big nation of Iran for producing such a weak film.”

In Other News

Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi answered questions today before reporters about his statements last week that received considerable coverage. At a joint press conference on Sunday Salehi said that he was hopeful that “sanctions will be gradually removed.”

Salehi said that “if you read the newspapers from before, you will also see positive news, and the European Union also said that there needs to be a reassessment of the sanctions.” Salehi stressed that “in the world of politics, you have to move in grey areas so that you give yourself the possibility of stepping back. If you burn all the bridges you’ve passed you cannot go back. Statements at press conferences should not be judged to this extent.” The foreign minister then compared the work of a diplomat to that of the security services in that “all of his work must not be out in the open.”

Salehi did stress again that he was “hopeful about the following year.” He said that “the people should be certain that God willing, next year Iran will enter a new phase; meaning that 34 years we’ve worked to enter this phase.” The next calendar year in Iran starts March 20.

Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei on Argo

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Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, the chief of the Secretariat of the Non-Aligned Movement and a controversial ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has defended his recent spate of meetings with foreign leaders, claiming that they were “always in the office of the President”.

Mashaei also commented on the Oscar winner for Best Picture, Argo, claiming that “there is no doubt that in these kinds of things politics has a role, but [to reckon] every action is entirely political is also not the case and it is not possible to judge…I have not seen this film and only heard that it is against Iran, but I have not seen it [to know] what its anti-Iranian dimensions are…If it has questioned Iranian smarts it has made a big mistake. If Iranians did not have a great intelligence, the name ‘Iran’ would now no longer exist”.

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