A Western journalist on Iran: Stop misunderstanding it

Andrea Claudia Hoffmann, a German journalist working for ‘Focus’ magazine as a Middle East expert, wrote in her book ‘Der Iran’ that international media corporations prevents the Western audience from getting to know the ‘real’ Iran. Often presented as a country which aims to wipe out all Jews just as Nazi’s intended during World War Two, the Iranian government struggles to reach to international audience. ‘Der Iran’, in which she made an interview with different representatives of Iranian society including Christians, Jews and Baha’is, aims to explain what Christians, Jews and other minority groups think of Iran and its highly debated regime.

After the lifting of sanctions, Iran is poised to be a tourist hotspot if it succeeds in presenting itself as a new ‘safe haven’ in the Middle East for Western companies and expats. Foreigners who are willing to get to Iran at least for a couple of weeks, deserve to know more about the situation for minorities. What I figured out during my ‘little research’ was that Iranian minorities can not dare to loudly utter their problems with the regime and Iranian society because they have fear of being alienated and even expelled from the country. Until now, everything is as expected.

Yet, Jewish politician Maurice Motamed, who was a member of the Iranian parliament between 2000-2008, claims that Iranian Jews don’t have too much difficulties in the society as much as people from foreign countries imagine.

Der Iran von Andrea Claudia Hoffmann
‘Der Iran’ from Andrea Claudia Hoffmann

For example, Iran surprisingly has the biggest Jewish population in the Middle East, of course, apart from Israel. About 35.000 Jews (according to some estimates it is between 15.000-25.000, yet I quote what she has written in her book), who were even fought with the Iraqis during the Iran-Iraq war between 1980-88, are living in Iran.  About 150 Jews, who are conscripted into the Iranian army like all Iranian citizens, were killed in the last conventional war in the region.

The leader of the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, who reportedly held a meeting with Jewish community leaders before the revolution in order to win their trust and support against the Pahlavi dynasty, had issued a fatwa (religious decree) declaring that Jews are to be protected under the Islamic regime. Although Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Israel must be ‘wiped off the map’ in 2005, speaking to an audience of about 4,000 students at a program called ‘The World Without Zionism’, Iranian politicians keep emphasising that their enemy is the ‘Zionist regime’, not the members of the religion or Israeli citizens.

Whether it is Pahlavi dynasty or Islamic regime, unassimilated minorities represented a threat to the construction of prescribed national identity in Iran. Jews and Christians, too, have to wear veil just as other Iranians do. Iran is always aware of the fact that Western actors can try to manipulate Iranian minorities, thus preventing the regime from imposing its rule on minorities.

Article 13 in Iranian constitution says “Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian Iranians are considered the only recognized religious minorities. They may exercise their religious ceremonies within the limits of the law. They are free to exercise matters of personal status and religious education and they follow their own rituals”

For instance, the Islamic regime officially recognizes that alcohol is a part of Christian belief and Christians can consume alcohol although it is strictly forbidden for the Muslims.

St. George Church in Iran (I don’t know what is written on the wall)

One of the biggest problems for the Christians, though, is that they can’t launch an organized effort to spread Christianity in Iran because regime doesn’t allow any other religion to be spread to the public. Being a missionary is a religious duty for Christians. In Iran, if a Muslim converts to Christianity and leaves ‘the true path’, the punishment for that person is a death penalty.


Yet, being a Jew or Christian itself is not a reason for death penalty since the Iranian regime supposes that there minorities can find the ‘true path’ in the future. It is believed, though, that the church operates secretly to spread the Christianity and gives Bibles to those who are interested in it.


BAHA’IS. (Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority)

Just give you an insight: More than 20.000 pieces of Anti-Bahai propaganda have been disseminated in the Iranian media between 2013 and 2016. When a person officially recognizes Bahaism, this person has no right to buy a house, to marry, to run a business or to go to the university. Economic pressure on Baha’is is acute, with both jobs and licenses being denied to Baha’is. Hoffmann claims that about 300.000 Baha’is are living in Iran right now.

Baha’is refuse that Mohammed is the last prophet, which is the core of Islamic belief, and promotes that woman and man are equal in the society. The Iranian regimes firmly believes that Bahaism was brough to the Persian land by Western countries to divide the unity of Islam and the Islamic society. When asked whether the Islamic regime would respect Baha’is, “No. They are not welcome. They will not be accepted” said the leader of the revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini.



‘Silence of intelligentsia’ has crucial consequences in times of distress

Artists, academicians, doctors along with journalists and lawyers should be able to assume the leadership in the society in times of distress, better yet before it. Otherwise, in case no reaction has been shown on time, ‘the strength of their silence’ in the past would be a curse for them and for the society in the future, as the history has witnessed in case of poor Kurt Huber, a professor of philosophy at Munich University during the Nazi Germany, also known as Third Reich.

When Hitler claimed power and ‘elected’ as a chancellor in 1933, the Fuhrer immediately began a swift cleansing in many universities around Germany. More than 1,600 scholars were expelled from their posts, most of them were Jews. Even a German academician, Karl Jaspers, whose wife was a Jew, was expelled for having a ‘connection’ to the Jewish society.

German intelligentsia kept silent.


Most of the German academicians whose silence meant ‘an approval’ for the Nazi Party (NSDAP) were thinking of filling the posts that Jewish academicians were left. Martin Heidegger, author of the ‘Being and Time’ was one of them. -Well done, Heidegger- He was granted the rectorship of Freiburg university in 1933. He joined the Nazi Party on May 1, 1933 ten days after being elected Rector of the University of Freiburg.

Martin Heidegger

In the beginning of 20th century, Rihanna and Beyonce were not twerking on the stage. Academics and philosophers were the real celebrities at least in Europe and they had the ultimate power to make the public convinced of, lets say, a controversial political move such as Hitler’s racist provocation against the Jews. (And now, Jewish intelligentsia ironically keeps silent when Israel kills civilians) The influence of the philosophers on the society unfortunately left its place to Kim Kardashian, Amal Clooney and Angelina Jolie in today’s world. Well, there would be no difference between Kardashian and Heidegger’s reaction to Hitler’s purge on the Jewish minority if Hitler needed a support from a popular culture item.

Heidegger, who is acknowledged to be one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century, signed a declaration in 1933, which end with the phrase ‘Heil Hitler.’ In the declaration, it reads “The National Socialist revolution is not simply the assumption of a power already present in the state: This revolution brings with it the total transformation of our German being” Heidegger once called Hitler ‘the present and future of Germany.’

Unfortunately, though, he had a huge effect on the modern philosophy that many people just ignored tha fact that he was an opportunist and kept silent in the face of Hitler’s purge on universities.

A Soviet soldier celebrates the big victory in Stalingrad.

What happened to our poor Kurt Huber?  He kept silent the rise of Nazi Party and Hitler’s provocative discourse. After lots of young German soldiers were killed in the battle of Stalingrad, he started to oppose the regime and became a member of White Rose, a covert resistance group against Nazi Party. He was late. In 1943, he was captured and executed. Maybe he was late to be captured and executed, though.

The world is full of uncertainties. Turkish intelligentsia (if there is such a thing) has never came out to inform the society and to resist what the authority was acting against the people’s will. When they speak out against the authority, they are always late, like Huber.

For the time being, they are late again to take a crucial responsibility. And they still did not realize what would have happened to them if the situation gets worse. 

How to get an international film award if you’re from Iran or Turkey – A GUIDE FOR MEDIOCRE WORKS!

There has been a virtual phenomenon of harshly criticizing movies that have won international awards, and have been produced by directors from countries such as Turkey and Iran, which intentionally present a dark image of their own country to satisfy the Western audience and film authorities. The critics in such countries claim directors use ‘tricks’ just to get the prize.  

After winning best screenplay and best actor prizes with his movie at the Cannes Film Festival in May, Iran’s Asghar Farhadi came under fire by his furious critics blaming him for presenting a dark image of the Iranian culture on purpose. Although the movie, The Salesman, was nominated for the Academy Awards by Farabi Cinema Foundation, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, critics consistently claim that Farhadi served Western interests and eventually was awarded for his service. The Salesman had been elected as the Iranian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Award after long discussions.  

Directed by Asghar Fahradi, “A Seperation” won the Academy Award in 2012, becoming the first Iranian movie to win the award.

There has been some positive developments regarding the effect and the extent of the criticism, though. When Abbas Kiarostami won the Palme d’Or for Taste of Cherry in 1997, nobody came to greet him at the airport, as if it was not enough to ban his movie in Iran for a long time. Instead, the situation was pretty different for Mr.Farhadi and his movie. Even government officials and other political figures praised him for the award, which would be a very surprising situation 10 years ago.  

He has some other colleagues in nearby countries who are under immense pressure, too. Yet, some storytellers are rightfully criticized for what they do. 

Hafez is a Persian poet regarded as a pinnacle of Persian literature.

Since I have never visited Iran and could not find an opportunity to get a glimpse of the Iranian culture as a Turkish journalist -temporarily- based in Berlin, it would be really absurd to comment on Fahradi’s intentions. I must sincerely admit, though, that I don’t see any ‘dark image’ of the Iranian culture when I watch his movies since the scenes depicting the effects of the revolution, Iran’s constitution and the regime does not necessarily represent the culture itself. The governments, regimes, and Shahs come and go, but the Iranian culture will stay there if little Iranian children continue to read Omar Khayyam’s or Hafez’s poems.

For me the biggest mistake that artists from oppressed countries do is that they do not make a clear distinction between culture and the political atmosphere!

“Mustang the Kitsch” by Deniz Gamze Özgüven

Now, I would love to speak about what I really know! I would not be surprised if Mr. Farhadi ruins Iran’s image abroad in order to get it’s problems solved with Western pressure on the Iranian government, or even just to get the award.

Yet, a Turkish director, who has been praised by international film authorities many times for her movie, Mustang, presents a ‘disgusting’ image of Turkish culture and I believe she does it since she is basically incapable of reflecting in her movie what she really thinks. I would respect her more if she made it this way on purpose to get the award.

 Though, Born in Turkey and raised in France, Turkish director Deniz Gamze Ergüven proves that there are some directors that use this method to get an international award without an intention. In her movie, Mustang, which she showed how untalented she is, pointing finger to a highly crucial problem seems incredibly insincere and ineffective.

The director tries to show every single problem that women could ever face in just 90 minutes. What a noble goal, and what a great disappointment!  

Mustang was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards by France.

Speaking to The Guardian, she says “The only time I was really unhappy, we’d had threats that involved (the young actresses in the movie). But they were proud of what they were doing, and I never had the impression we were stealing about them” She was speaking about the death threats on her and on children actresses, feeling that she fulfilled her responsibility for the women she normally was never in touch with.

I sincerely think that the hate towards current government in Turkey or Iran -which I can understand and mostly agree with- would be a curse if the storyteller is a untalented one.



Kurdish opposition in Europe trying to blackmail the West with a new refugee crisis

“The state is cleansing its bowel” said Turkey’s former Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc in 2008, referring to Ergenekon attempted coup case, which is organized by Gülenist judges and prosecutors in order to purge Kemalist high-ranking soldiers in the military.

Turkey is going through an extraordinary process after the abortive putsch attempt. President Erdoğan tries to restore its ties with Tsar Putin after Turkey shot down the Russian Su-24 aircraft, and he warns the USA and Western countries, so-called NATO allies, of severing the relationship in case they do not make any pressure on Gulenists living abroad.

One of the most vital problems that Turkey, especially the ruling party, faces is that it can not make Europe and the USA believe what it wants to them to believe after the failed putsch. Turkish governments throughout the years has used Gulenists and other state like structures to build its public relations abroad. It pays the price now. 

It also tries to ‘cleanse its bowel’ over and over again.The cat fight never comes to a halt in Turkey which was once a role model of fractured Arab democracies in the bloody Middle East. 

During the uprising in northern Iraq, nearly two millions Iraqis, 1.5 of the Kurds, escaped from cities to mountains. Nealy 750.000 Kurds had fled to Iran and 280.00 to Turkey. 

After Turkey detained scores of people as a part of a probe into the putsch attempt, Kurds and Gulenists in Europe has immediately found a way to scare European countries.


BINGO. It has been quite easy to sell it in Europe nowadays. 

Fragile political situation in Turkey, though, will not cause any mass refugee influx to Europe at least in the foreseeable future. After having seen that Europe turned into a far-right land mass suitable for xenophobia following the refugee crisis, Kurds and Gulenists living in Europe try to lobby that about tens of thousands of Kurdish and Turkish  dissidents is about to come to Europe if Turkey continues to do what it does.

“In the short-term, I expect tens of thousands of Kurdish people coming from Turkey, yet in the mid-term hundreds of thousands of people seeking asylum in Germany will end up here” said Kurdish Community leader Ali Toprak speaking to die Welt, a conservative German newspaper. A week ago, about 30 Kurdish men occupied the studios of West German Broadcasting (WDR) in Düsseldorf in order to bring attention to the current political situation in Turkey.

Mr. Toprak is clearly exaggerating and his main objective is to bring Western countries’ attention to Kurdish minority and secretly tries to threat the West, saying ‘if you would not involve in the political crisis in the southeastern Turkey, hundreds of thousands of Kurds are going to end up here and you will have to deal with a new ‘Kurdish refugee crisis’ which sounds like an ‘Albtraum’ for Frau Angela Merkel’s party, CDU, among many other parties across Europe. 

Many of the buildings show the damage from military clashes between Turkish army and                                                                     PKK in Sur, Diyarbakır.                                                                     May 24, 2016 (Dağhan Kozanoğlu – Daily Milliyet)

Similarly, Gulenists in Europe are willing to take advantage of the situation in Turkey in a way Kurdish lobby does.

Ercan Karakoyun, head of the pro-Gulen Dialogue and Education Foundation in Germany, also claims that lots of Turks are about to come to Europe as political refugees. Political parties in Europe, be it a far-right party or a liberal one, are equally frightened that there is such a possibility for real. 

Dağhan Kozanoğlu – Daily Milliyet


It is hard to digest Europe’s reaction to the putsch attempt

The Chancellor of Austria, Christian Kern, is obviously under immense pressure after his party was defeated by a far-right party, FPÖ -Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs-, in the presidential election. Since he lost the strategic election to neo-Nazis, he seemingly realized that it is the right time to exploit anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiments by attacking a Muslim country, even if this country is struggling to stand on his feet after a putsch attempt.

The Chancellor called the Turkish minority in the country ‘radicals’. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu did not step back, calling Austria ‘the capital of radical racism’ in retaliation. It has been a ‘daily cat fight’ between two countries, though the two should have been speaking about other things which address the problems that Turkish people, politicians and journalists are facing in times of distress.

Vladimir Putin of Russia will be the first world leader to meet President Erdoğan after the failed putsch attempt. Turkish people as well as Turkish politicians will very well remember this first meeting and its significance. Iran, one of Assad’s staunch supporters and Turkey’s opponent on Syrian crisis, did not hesitate to condemn the putsch attempt in the first hour it emerged.

Turkish people took to the streets to resist after Erdogan’s call (Daghan Kozanoglu – Milliyet Daily)

Carl Bildt of Politico wrote an essay in which he called on Europe to stand for Turkey and Erdoğan. Well, it is already too late. “On the night of the coup, it took some time for the EU to condemn the events. And there was no sign of senior EU representatives afterward flying Turkey in support of an accession country facing the gravest threat to its constitutional order yet,” he wrote.

I was at the cinema when I learnt that Turkish soldiers has blocked off the Bosphorus Bridge to overthrow the government and impose martial law. I could not wait until the boring movie finishes, I got out the cinema, almost running. When I got to the Milliyet’s office, I was hoping to see public statements of Western leaders which would be in the support of the legitimate institutions in Turkey.

Instead, what I saw on the screen as a first statement from Europe was an European Union source, saying that “It looks like a relatively well orchestrated coup by a substantial body of the military, not just a few colonels” That was not something that I expected.

dağhan 1
(Daghan Kozanoglu – Milliyet Daily)

Kadri Gürsel penned an essay for Al Monitor, saying “Generally speaking, the United States and Europe saw it as a move directed primarily at Erdoğan. Both the scope and tone of their reactions was just the minimum of what diplomatic etiquette requires. The Western media focused less on the putsch itself and more on Erdogan’s crackdown on the putshists, using a highly apprehensive language in reporting the measures”

Turkish parliament was bombed by war planes and all political parties, media outlets and most of the non-governmental organisations has shown a resistance against the putsch attempt. Politicians and journalists who are normally trying to get rid of the ruling party, declared that it is a time of showing unity and supporting Turkey constitution and its elected president, whether you like him or not.

Turkish journalists who were either arrested or fired just because what they wrote, and who seek support from EU countries in dealing with the problems they face, were disappointed after they saw Russia and Iran rushing to condemn the putsch when EU leaders were still thinking how to react.

Soli Özel, a Turkish Jew and outspoken critic of Erdogan wrote in daily Habertürk, “That no one came to Turkey from EU institutions to offer solidarity with the Turkish parliament, shows a lack of sensitivity, empathy and solidarity that cannot be easily digested”

The gravest threat that Turkey faced was eventually averted, and Turkish politicians think that it is time to remember the so-called friends.

Lots of people rush to withdraw money from ATM machines (Daghan Kozanoglu – Milliyet Daily)

What does the failed coup attempt mean for Syrian rebels?

Bashar al-Assad was by far the happiest man in the bloody Middle East in the night of 15th July when a small fraction of the Turkish army tried to overthrow Turkey’s elected president, impose martial law and enforce a nationwide curfew. Thousands of cheering people took to the streets in Damascus and other government-held cities, shouting “God, Syria and Bashar.”

Pro-government people had the feeling that the coup in Turkey would mean the end of the Syrian crisis, or at least Turkey’s involvement in it. Yet, there were quite fast to cheer. After the pro-regime media in Syria realized that the coup attempt would fail, it immediately started to produce conspiracies and false stories framing the failed coup attempt as a project by Erdogan to seize power and consolidate his control on the state institutions.

Since it was understood that the coup attempt was thwarted by the Turkish people, President Erdogan and the Turkish government launched an attack focusing on the enemy inside borders. Though, the coup attempt will have crucial repercussions on Turkey’s involvement in Syria.

erdoğan destek

In contrast to Assad supporters in Syria, Palestinians hold Erdogan’s poster as they gather to support him, in Gaza City. Ali Jadallah, Anadolu Agency

Syrian rebels which Turkey has been supporting since the beginning of the civil war in Syria claim that Turkey is not as active as in the past when it comes to helping rebels on the ground against the Assad regime, Russia and Shia militias backed by Iran. They are afraid of a likely disruption of military and intelligence support from Turkey during the times of political instability.

In an article on The Financial Times penned by Erika Solomon and Geoff Dyer, it says “Syrian rebels said last week they noticed a drift in Ankara’s attention. They said Turkey was inactive as rebels struggled against a tightening siege by the Assad regime on Aleppo, the opposition’s last big urban stronghold. “Usually the Turks would be checking a lot, meeting with commanders and making sure everyone is doing their jobs and sticking to the plan,” says a rebel leader from a US-backed group. “The Turks could get control of this situation and now, they’re absent.”

Turkey has bigger domestic problems which have unavoidable repercussions especially in Syria, if not in any other country. For instance, four-star Gen. Adem Huduti, who heads The Second Army, which patrols the border with Syria, Iraq and Iran and conduct operations in the eastern Turkey, where the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is the biggest threat, was arrested on charges of joining the coup attempt. Many other high-ranking soldiers, police officers and politicians who are involved in Turkey’s Syrian policy are no longer active.

Usually the Turks would be checking a lot, meeting with commanders and making sure everyone is doing their jobs and sticking to the plan. The Turks could get control of this situation and now, they’re absent

2. foto
Turkish people cheers after the coup attempt has been thwarted.

Christopher Kozak, a Syria analyst at the Institute for the Study Of War (ISW) says in an interview on newsdeeply.com, “I don’t think that this will change what Erdogan desires to see out of Syria, namely the removal of President Assad and replacement by a government, likely a Sunni Islamist government that is a reflection of the Justice and Development Party in Turkey…(Though) In the short-term, we will see a turn inward by Turkey that sets up an opportunity for an array of actors on the ground inside of Syria to exploit this moment to make initial gains.

As Erdogan consolidates his power on the state institutions, it is highly anticipated that the Turkish institutions including the military would be controlled almost single-handedly by Erdogan and more interventionist in Syria. Given the current turmoil in Turkey, it would seem as a setback for Syrian rebels in the short-term, yet, in the long-term Turkey could be more active in Syria than before.

The problems that poor Syrian rebels could face do not end here.


son foto

Syrian rebels are afraid that Turkey and USA could work against each other through their proxies.

The foreseeable political crisis between the USA and Turkey over the fate of Fethullah Gulen, the mastermind of the failed coup, would undermine the cooperation on Syria between two countries which jeopardize the long-term effort in the Middle East. The Syrian rebels which are almost totally besieged by the Assad regime, are afraid of losing the Aleppo, Syria’s commercial center before the war.

“If this American-Turkish struggle worsens.. we could see a period of chaos much bigger than anything we’ve seen yet” says a Syrian rebel leader.

Turkish government persistently demands the extradition of Gulen to Turkey.

Ibrahim Kalin, the spokesman for President Erdogan of Turkey, wrote in The New York Times, “The United States should extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish citizen, to Turkey, as is allowed under an existing treaty. Turkey has already provided a number of legal documents to American authorities and will send more as further evidence is collected. The United States should not let this man exploit its laws to avoid facing a fair and legitimate accounting in Turkey.

It is obvious that Syrian rebels can not afford to lose Turkey’s involvement in the Syria crisis. 


Remembering Kiarostami, ‘the cinematic genius’

“Going in circle means, literally, going nowhere. Badii’s journey is a journey into the void: Everything takes on the appearance of a ritual, as if this was a pilgrimage against the background of a land of mythical dimensions where man’s existential search is free to take place” wrote Arun Kumar.

The protagonist in ‘Taste of Cherry’ plans to kill himself and he already dug the grave. Yet, he needs someone to help him by throwing some earth on his corpse. During the long journey going in circles, he speaks with a soldier, a seminarian and a common man, which represent the three orders of the Indo-European world.

Common man tells a real story to convince the protagonist that every single problem that one can possibly go through has its own solution, although he already accepted to throw earth on his corpse and receive 200.000 tomans in return.

We never know why Mr. Bedii wants to commit suicide, though it is clear to me that he is struggling in the face of social and personal pressures and represents the deep, widening rift between educated Iranian man and soldiers, seminarians and common men.

“Aga, a mulberry saved my life” said the ‘common man’ after mentioning his own suicide attempt in the past.

Circle roads and tough journeys in order to find a spiritual freedom was a signature of Abbas Kiarostami’s movies, such as ‘Taste of Cherry’ and ‘The Wind Will Carry Us.’ He was a modern spiritual, and he knew that he was blessed with that.

A scene from ‘The Wind Will Carry Us’

After the Islamic Revolution, he decided to stay in Iran and stubbornly refused to go out of the country permanently. “When you take a tree that is rooted in the ground, and transfer it from one place to another, the tree will no longer bear fruit. And if it does, the fruit will not be as good as it was in its original place. This is a rule of nature. I think if I had left my country, I would be the same as the tree” he said.

Mr. Badii  does not discuss why he wants to commit suicide.

He knew that he would have many problems with the new regime. Accordingly, his deary movie, Taste of Cherry, had gone through many obstacles posed by Iranian authorities. French Foreign Minister is rumored to have intervened to help Kiarostami’s Taste of Cherry which was soon afterwards awarded the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997.

In ‘The Wind Will Carry Us’, the protagonist wants to record a traditional funeral ceremony following the death of a very old village woman who is expected to die soon. Throughout the movie, I identified myself with the protagonist who was eager to take a risk and start a long journey into the void. Though, I still could not embark on a risky and tempting journey such as this.

Journalism is what I am doing to get by and try to stand on my feet. Yet, I am also a closet novelist, eager to learn more about local stories, whether it is a movie, a novel or just a saying. Just as the protagonist in ‘The Wind Will Carry Us’ is.

I always have the feeling that Kiarostami was a  young autodidact struggling to become a good storyteller when he was at my age. I don’t care if he was not, I am just glad to think it in that way.

Abbas Kiarostami was one of the best storytellers (I call him deliberately ‘storyteller’, not a director, screenwriter or photographer. What he does, in fact, is telling stories) which abolishes borders between me and Persian culture.

abbas kiaroustami

During a speech in Paris, he observes “It is a fact that films without a story are not very popular with audiences, yet a story also requires gaps, empty spaces like in a crossword puzzle, voids that it is up to the audience to fill in. Or, like a private detective in a thriller to discover. I believe in a type of cinema that gives greater possibilities and time to its audience”

A Facebook user wrote after his death, “He is not dead. He just stopped filming”

That is what I think, too. Goodbye Abbas.