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Open letter to President Obama on behalf of Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad

By Rod Sharif

"From time to time I come across some young men and women that warm up my heart and send rays of hope about the future in my heart for Iran and Iranians. Recently we went to see a young journalist, Masih Alinejad, at her office at Hambastegi newspaper. We met a very sincere, dedicated and earnest young lady who strongly believes in law and order and process of democracy and rights of citizen as well as clarity and transparency. This lady is a young daring journalist who is as determined as she is tough and sure of her goals, like the mountains surrounding Tehran"

-Syma Sayyah, Tehran, June 2005

Dear Mr. President Obama,

As an Iranian-American who found you to be the gem of all the US presidential candidates two years before your inauguration, as an active citizen critical of dark and war mongering policies of Mr. Bush, as a proud Iranian who had spent 17 years of my life growing up in that resourceful country, as a world citizen who wishes to see peace and tranquility established all over the globe, as a practicing Muslim, I wish to ask you Mr. President to grant an interview to Ms. Alinejad.

Masih Alinejad's request to have an interview with President Obama

Masih Alinejad is one courageous woman from humble beginnings with a fire in her belly to speak the wishes of her generation and all Iranians living in Iran. I have had the opportunity to invite and introduce Masih to facebook, and to have witnessed her rise in popularity in that virtual space.

As I write this letter, I have been spending the last five months in my native country of Iran and have come to understand a little more about the complex political structure that is holding its citizens back! The current government does not speak for the people of Iran. We have all witnessed the events since the elections. Massive unemployment and high inflation rates together with a widespread suppression of freedoms of expression and assembly has only helped spread a dark shadow of uncertainty over this great nation.

The highly qualified youth in this country have retired to their satellite dishes and/or are working on improving their second language to find a way to get away from this environment. Many with college degrees have taken up taxi service jobs to make the ends meet. A country with so much natural resources, the third in the world in gas fields alone, a country with plenty of historical and natural sites, a country with so many different climates, a country with so many highly educated people is only trapped in bureaucratic games resulting from poor policies of a government unwilling to listen to her people. Iranians claim Mr. Bush to be a hero compared to the man who has just had his second term inauguration!

Such "only me and my friends" benefiting policies have excluded the majority of Iran's working force from any real economic and social engagement. Only a very narrow segment of the society close to the government and its intelligence apparatus are  involved in the economic growth of the country. The rest are just observers. During Mr. Khatami's eight years in office, the country was moving toward establishment of a civil society that Masih Alinejad has first hand experience with. You could actually hear hope and encouragement in the voices of the people then. You could see a broader economic engagement. The artists and creative people were blossoming. Today, after one term of Ahamdinejad in office, the country has come to a standstill. A massive cloud of uncertainty is hanging over the country and the intelligent people that Masih represents seem to have no way out! Nobody on the street wishes to chant death to America or to any other country for that matter. People want to simply live and let others live. They want to take charge of their lives and their country.

Masih Alinejad is a good representative of these people. I am sure she has plenty of good questions to ask from you too. I always was a fan of Christian Amanpour. I believe Masih has similar potentials! Please give her a chance to have an interview with you, as you are not just the president of America, but the president of the hearts and minds of many people around the globe. You speak and breath hope! I trust that Mr. President, you will light up Masih Alinejad's hope as well!

Truly Yours,

Rod Sharif

About Masih

Masih Alinejad is well known for her courageous criticism of Iranian authorities. She was a parliamentary reporter for ILNA and a journalist at Hambastegi Daily and Etemad Melli Daily. Several of her articles were followed by harsh criticism from conservative parties in Iran. In 2008, former Iranian head of parliament apologized after an article by Alinejad was published in Etemad Melli Daily on economic problems in Iran.

Masih was a Parliamentary correspondent for ' Hambastegi' Daily and 'Iranian Labour News Agency' (ILNA) for four years, prior to her expulsion from Parliament in 2005. Expulsion from Parliament caused worldwide media attention because she had exposed that a significant increase in deputies' salaries had not been made public then the Nobel Prize winning lawyer, Shirin Ebadei offered to represent her at the court.

She Published three books:

  1. Tahasson, which describes the political turmoil/challenges created when the 'Sixth Iranian Parliament' went on strike;
  2. Taje-e-Khar, (The crown of thorn) a Novel and that is now being translated into English; and,
  3. I am Free, which deals with Women issues in Iran published in Germany because of the banning by the Islamic Culture and Guidance Ministry in Iran.

Masih Alinejad is the winner of the first annual 'Omid Journalism Award' from the Mehdi Semsar Foundation which is an Iranian - French Organization. She was arrested as an activist for producing leaflets critical of the Iranian Government in 1994.

(From Masih's page on Wikipedia)

Related Articles:

Mr Ahmadinejad, So you're saying I'm free? - by Masih Alinejad

Masih Alinejad, a brave Iranian woman journalist

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