Sunday, March 15, 2015

Talks in Paris

I was invited by the Executive Director of UNESCO to attend a session on the appraisal of achievement s of the Beijing World Conference on Women twenty years later. I spoke on the advances but also obstacles women face worldwide. I mentioned the consumerist and materialistic approach that plagues our world today and results in the erosion of both ethics and the nature we rely on for existence. Six women were invited to speak about their views, three of us had attended the fourth world conference in 1995. I also met separately with Irina Bokova and spoke about joint activities.
I had a speech at the Diplomatic Club in Paris where I spoke on the moderation policies of the Government of Dr.Rouhani. The program was ensued by a lengthy question and answer session dealing with all aspects of social and political affairs.
Medef International is a French corporate sector alliance which also held a session where I spoke frankly about business opportunities in the field of environment for about 70 business leaders.
I had a working lunch session with several media directors including Le Monde and Figaro and others. Again I responded to many questions not only on internal politics but also the nuclear deal and prospects for improving relations with the west.
I also spoke with a group of Parliamentarians from the French Congress and Senate over dinner .We exchanged  views on issues like ways to combat  climate change and extremism. 
My meeting with Laurin Fabius, the French Foreign Minister recieved alot of media attention. Fabius is leading the negotiations on climate change which will finalize later this year in Paris. We discussed many issues of mutual interest.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fourteenth environment exhibition of Tehran

On the occasion of the fourteenth International Environment Exhibition, we had three high level international guests. The Environment Ministers of Lebanon, Russia and the Vice Minister of Japan arrived for the inaugural session. I had bilateral sessions and we discussed areas of practical cooperation. With Japan we had a policy dialogue session to follow the MOC that we had previously adopted. The Russian Minster signed the Biodiversity Protocol of the Tehran Convention for the Protection of the Caspian Sea Environment and our directors signed an action plan on joint collaboration. 
The year's exhibiton was convened under the theme of Green Economy ,Resilient Economy. In the opening ceremony, the First Vice President of Iran Dr Jahangiri, spoke on the importance the government of Dr. Rouhani attaches to the environment and the green economy.In addition, the minsters of Russia, Japan and Lebanon also spoke on the need for regional and international efforts to protect planet earth. I then visited the different booths and met both private sector and NGO s active in this field. 290 different business and economic sectors had participated . In addition, over 80 NGOs and firms from 14 countries had taken part, it was an important event since we need to make the connection between economic activity and advances in the protection ot our global environment.
Many new innovations in fields of renewable energies, recycling, waste management, water purification and  treatment systems, air filtration technologies,energy efficiency methods biodiversity protection and many more new technologies were presented at the fair . This creates opportunities for trade, exchange of views and know how in areas pertaining to environment protection.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Now Prophet Muhammad ,Messenger of God


What interpretation of Islam is authentic, what is the true spirit of Islam and who was the Prophet of Islam ? These are the questions we face today considering the violent and hateful behavior of a group who have displayed cruel acts and wreaked havoc in many parts of the world. The importance of a full and complete biography of the Messenger as available to us can not be under estimated in this troubled time since both Muslims as well as Non Muslims have serious knowledge gap and even misunderstandings when it comes to recognition of the nature and behaviour of the Final Prophet and  Messenger of God sent to all of humanity, who came to restore the primordial religion of Man.

In reality no Biography of Prophet Muhammad can really suffice to know him for he was all together someone else, the like of which humanity never saw before, never will in future. Language falls short to describe his appearances let alone the splendor of his character, the utter compassion flowing from his heart, the excellence of his mind, his ethical behavior and unmatched generosity and his unparalleled skill as a teacher of truth. Yet many prominent scholars have studied his life and produced remarkable works.
"You have good example in God's Apostle for anyone who looks to God and the Last Day and Remember God always." - The Quran

Here are some books and references introduced by authorites on Islamic thought.

  • Al-Itqan Fi 'Ulum Al-Qur'an by  Imam Suyuti  (Download PDF
(For learning about how Prophet taught the Qur'an)
by Tariq Ramadan   (download PDF
  • Memories of the Prophet (Why the Prophet Matters) by Omid Safi
  • Muhammad the Prophet of God (detailed) by Khawaja Shamsuddin Azeemi   (Link for Book)


Some of the Testimonial about Prophet Muhammad by Scholars and Thinkers of the past

“The world is in dire need of a man with the mind of Muhammad; religious people in the Middle Ages, due to their ignorance and prejudice, had pictured him in a very dark way as they used to consider him the enemy of Christianity. But after looking into the story of this man I found it to be an amazing and a miraculous one, and I came to the conclusion that he was never an enemy of Christianity, and must be called instead the savior of humanity. In my opinion, if he was to be given control over the world today, he would solve our problems and secure the peace and happiness which the world is longing for.” - George Bernard Shaw, the British playwright

“It is impossible for anyone who studies the personality of the great Prophet of the Arabs, and come to know how this prophet he used to live, and how he taught the people, but to feel respect towards this honorable prophet; one of the great messengers whom Allaah sent” - Annie Besant, wrote in ‘The Life and Teachings of Muhammad’

"If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astonishing results are the three criteria of a human genius, who could dare compare any great man in history with Muhammad? The most famous men created arms, laws, and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man moved not only armies, legislations, empires, peoples, dynasties, but millions of men in one-third of the then inhabited world; and more than that, he moved the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and the souls. Philosopher, Orator, Apostle, Legislator, Conqueror of Ideas, Restorer of Rational beliefs... The founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire -- that is Muhammad. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?” - Alphonse de La Martaine wrote in ‘Historie de la Turquie’

“Muhammad was a shining example to his people. His character was pure and stainless. His house, his dress, his food - they were characterized by a rare simplicity. So unpretentious was he that he would receive from his companions no special mark of reverence, nor would he accept any service from his slave which he could do for himself. He was accessible to all and at all times. He visited the sick and was full of sympathy for all. Unlimited was his benevolence and generosity as also was his anxious care for the welfare of the community.” - Dr. Gustav Weil writes in ‘History of the Islamic Peoples’

“It is a great shame for any one to listen to the accusation that Islaam is a lie and that Muhammad was a fabricator and a deceiver. We saw that he remained steadfast upon his principles, with firm determination; kind and generous, compassionate, pious, virtuous, with real manhood, hardworking and sincere. Besides all these qualities, he was lenient with others, tolerant, kind, cheerful and praiseworthy and perhaps he would joke and tease his companions. He was just, truthful, smart, pure, magnanimous and present-minded; his face was radiant as if he had lights within him to illuminate the darkest of nights; he was a great man by nature who was not educated in a school nor nurtured by a teacher as he was not in need of any of this.” - The British philosopher, Thomas Carlyle, who won the Nobel Prize for his book ‘The Heroes’ wrote:

“Us, Europeans, with all our concepts could not reach what Muhammad has reached, and no one will be able to precede him. I have looked in the history of humanity for an example and found that it was Muhammad, as the truth must be revealed. Indeed, Muhammad succeeded to subdue the entire world to monotheism”. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German writer


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas, Hopes and Woes

As Christmas arrives the atmosphere of festivity spreads not only in the Western / Christian hemisphere but also in other areas of the world, including here in Tehran where you can see Christmas decorations in many shops and stores. The sentiment of hope for peaceful coexistence among followers of different religions and sects is now stronger than ever in Iran, with the postive steps taken to improve social and political conditions by the Rouhani administration, even though challenges still persist. Armenians not only celebrate freely but their presence is clearly felt in the mainstream media, I was reading a debate about the increasing prices of a Christmas tree in Tehran yesterday in a daily newspaper.Or the visit I had last year to the Armenian cultural and sports club Ararat which recieved widespread media coverage.
Yet this not the general image in the region, American military adventurism in the past decades instigated by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan has left indelible scars of pain, suffering and destruction in most countries of the region. In addition to Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq that still suffer from violence, terror and insecurity now hallmarked by the fabrication of DAESH,Palestine Libya,Somalia,Yemen, Egypt and many more have faced the exodus of Christians and minorities who have faced persecution at the hands of terrorists who are mandated to smear the image of Islam and sow discord and insecurity in the region.In an artcle entitled "Why Millions will Mourn this Christmas ", Evan Mcadams best described the predicament :"It will be a miserable Christmas for the overseas victims of US interventions this year. Though "regime change" proponents talk of bringing freedom and democracy to the countries they target, the end result is quite the opposite: the rise of extremism, famine, ethnic cleansing, and economic destruction are what the US government has left behind in places like Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine."
In Iran many observers see positve prospects for the final resolution of the Nuclear issue particularly after the restoration of ties with Cuba which has improved the approval ratings of the US President, there is much speculation that negotiations will pave the way for the success of the nuclear talks and lifting of the illegal sanctions against our nation.
Iran now has undeniable leverage in the Islamic world, the current Iranian administration percieves this as an opportunity to promote peace and security in the region and to combat terrorism and extremism which most probably parallels the interests of the nations in the Western Hemisphere. Mr. Obama now has a unique chance to improve the image of the USG smeared by war mongering,torture and racism, to counter the extemists who rely on blood and the suffering for their dominion and to come to terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Turkey and An Interview With Hurriyet Newspaper

Last week I took part in the 5th ECO Environment Ministers meeting in Istanbul.I arrived early in the morning to take part in a working breakfast with the Turkish environment minister, where we discussed bilateral ties and the need for  a memorandum of understanding to define areas of future action.
The ECO session defined a strategy for environmental cooperation in the region and a declaration was adopted at the end.
That day I had several interviews including one with Hurriyet Daily Newspaper. I invite you to read the challenging questions posed and my answers. At the end of the day we had some time to spend walking alongside the Bosphorus.We flew back to Tehran  that evening .

Thursday, December 4, 2014

National Hero, Chemical Weapon Victim, Ahmad Zangiabadi

Introduction to this story by the UN Resident Coordinator in Iran

The United Nations, in its mandate to promote peace, has ardently opposed the use of chemical weapons. 


In September 1982, the UN General Assembly accepted the annual report of the Conference on Disarmament, which contained what later became the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).


The CWC – which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and their precursors – came into force in 1997 and is administered by the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons in The Hague.


The CWC bears great significance for Iran, whose people were subjected to these heinous weapons during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988).


Today, the victims of the sulphur mustard gas attacks continue to suffer from the consequences.


The UN office in Iran and UNIC are proud of their friendship with the Tehran Peace Museum, where many of these victims share their stories and experiences.


Sadly, one of our friends died recently.  Here is his story.



30 Nov 2014 - Ahmad Zangiabadi Chemical Weapons Victim from the Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988 1965-2014 2Ahmad Zangiabadi in January 2014. (Photo courtesy of Time Magazine) 

Ahmad Zangiabadi died two weeks ago.  The day was Tuesday, the 18th of November 2014.  He was 49 years old.  The cause of his death was respiratory collapse.


Ahmad was born in Kerman on the 9th of April 1965, into an ordinary Iranian family.  But when the Iran-Iraq war started in 1980 over a territorial dispute, he followed the well-trodden path chosen by patriotic young men from across the ages.  He volunteered to join the army and went off to defend Iran.


30 Nov 2014 - Ahmad Zangiabadi Chemical Weapons Victim from the Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988 1965-2014 5Ahmad as a young volunteer soldier in 1982. (Photo courtesy of Tehran Peace Museum)

Ahmad spent his military career on the southern front defending Iran’s control of the Arvand River – the Shatt al-Arab – where he was a member of the volunteer army’s logistics unit.


“In 1984,” said Ahmad in an interview before his death, “Iraq was dropping chemical bombs on our troops.  We didn’t even know what chemical bombs were.”


On the 12th of April 1985, Ahmad was positioned with his unit in the Tala’ie region of the Majnoon Island when Iraq dropped a sulphur mustard gas bomb on his position.  He was then only 19 years old.


When people are exposed to sulphur mustard gas, in more than 95 per cent of cases they don’t die. Most associated deaths occur either as a result of the explosive blast itself or when the patients – in a condition of vulnerability and exposed to liquid chemicals – are being transported to medical facilities. The real trauma and tragedy come afterwards. The symptoms of mustard gas are slow-onset. Many veterans have told of feeling quite well for some time even after the explosion. Ahmad was no different, and it was not until several hours after the attack that he began to feel unwell.

"With each laboured breath, Ahmad described his role at the Tehran Peace Museum and shared the experiences of survivors like him"


“It was about 10pm in the evening,” Ahmad recalled, “when I first realized that something was wrong.  I guessed that I had been exposed to chemicals.  I asked someone to replace me at the front so that I could go to the medical centre.”


Ahmad’s condition rapidly worsened.  His eyes were severely burned and he started vomiting violently.  His entire body began to break out in burns and blisters. 



“I was taken to Tehran to a hospital,” said Ahmad, “and I lay unconscious for about 40 days.”


Ahmad slowly began to understand that his lungs had been damaged permanently and for the next 30 years his life would be dependent on medication, hospitalization and a series of oxygen machines.  After the war, Ahmad got married.  In time, Ahmad’s wife, Marzieh, would be his loyal and dedicated nurse, administering his medication, helping him with his oxygen machines and making life as comfortable as possible for him.

30 Nov 2014 - Ahmad Zangiabadi Chemical Weapons Victim from the Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988 1965-2014 4Ahmad guiding school children around the Tehran Peace Museum, June 2012. (Photo courtesy of Tehran Peace Museum)


After the war, Ahmad tried to further his education and enrolled at a local university to study English literature.  However, the sulphur mustard had burned his cornea and his eyesight had rapidly deteriorated.  His lung condition worsened and after falling into a coma and being hospitalized, he was forced to give up any hope of continuing his studies.


As one of over 100,000 survivors of chemical warfare in Iran from the war with Iraq, Ahmad sought for himself a role in helping other survivors.  He joined a non-governmental organization, the Society for Chemical Weapons Victims Support (SCWVS) later becoming a board member.


In 2007, Ahmad began a career as a volunteer guide at The Tehran Peace Museum. As an eyewitness and survivor, Ahmad escorted visitors around the museum and gave first hand accounts of the terrible consequences of chemical weapons. He served as living testimony to the open wounds – both literal and metaphorical – still troubling war veterans, civilians and many people who continue to be affected by secondary contamination from sulphur mustard.


30 Nov 2014 - Ahmad Zangiabadi Chemical Weapons Victim from the Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988 1965-2014 1Ahmad Zangiabadi meets UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki Moon at the OPCW Conference in The Hague, April 2013 (Photo courtesy of Tehran Peace Museum)

A committed campaigner for peace, Ahmad travelled with delegates from the Tehran Peace Museum to The Hague in April 2013. The group attended the Third Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention at the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). While moving around with his portable oxygen machine, Ahmad was honoured to meet the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki Moon, and the OPCW’s Director General, Mr. Ahmed Üzümcü and asked them to double their efforts to make a world free of chemical weapons.


With each laboured breath, Ahmad described his role at the Tehran Peace Museum and shared the experiences of survivors like him. Sadly, within the last year of his life, Ahmad’s respiratory condition worsened.


“I am a candidate for a lung transplant,” he said, “my lungs were burnt so badly that they can’t provide my body with the oxygen it needs.”


Ahmad did not live long enough to receive the lung transplant.  His dream of taking deep breaths would not come true.


Ahmad Zangiabadi is survived by his widow, Marzieh, and his only son, Hesam.


But through his work and the lives he touched, Ahmad’s story will live on and his tireless campaigning to see a world free of chemical weapons will be remembered.

 With the courtesy of UN Reisdent Coordinator.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Journey to Italy

I was invited by the Italian Minister of Sea,Land and Environment.After arriving at Rome, we met with Ms.Emma  Bunino who was the former Foreign Minister of Italy . Our first visit was at the Environmental Research Center,ISPRA, we visited their advanced laboratories and spoke about plans for joint activities. We met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs that after noon in the immense ministry building which was built once by Mosillini.
Bilateral political,economic and environmental issues were discussed. We then left to visit the Minister of Environment with whom we discussed the status of Climate Change negotiations.
The MOU for energy and climate change was then signed and we attended a reception of  pasta, fish and chips hosted by the Minister of Environment in a antique setting in central Rome.
I began the next day with RAI international news channel broadcast live from the residence of the Ambassador.
The reporter and her director were both interested in Iran and related developments.The rise of ISIS was alarming for all and this matter was brought up in every meeting and interview.After several short interviews with local media and newspapers we left for a meeting with the Italian Parliament Speaker. Scores of protesters were loudly rioting outside the Parliament premises, against austerity measures which were severly hitting their livelihoods.Laura Boldrini spoke about the importance of the role which Iran as  a stable country has in preventing the spread of ISIS.
The Diplomatic Research center SIOI , had invited me to speak. I chose the title " Spirit of Dialogue and the Journey to Perfection." I spoke about how we had to bring the change we want in the world first within ourselves and particularly those in positions of leadership.
I also responded to questions a out , human rights, foreign policy and internal politics in Iran. Our final program was to take part in the Minerva Award Program .
This is a prestigious award given to women by the Anna Marie Mamolliti Foundation. Several women were awarded mostly from Italy , I was given the award for Political Leadership. There was a large audience attending and I took a few moments to thank the organizers and to mention the achievements nof Iranian women in different fields and to note that this award is an indication of the common values that we cherish in spite of all the cultural differences.
I hope this visit has played its role in providing a more objective image of Iran and improvement of bilateral relations.