A plea from Iran

I received an email that deeply moved me a few moments ago. I’m going to reproduce it here exactly, except that (as requested) I am omitting the name of the sender. Because I think I’m going to need a term of reference for him, I am substituting the name of a legendary Persian hero.

My name is [Rostam] , an open source fan and your blog regular commenter …

Regarding to security consideration, PLEASE KEEP MY IDENTITY SECRET !!

I wanted to inform you about what’s happening in Iran , but the the wildness circle of Iran’s religious and dictatorship regime is so that I can just invite you to check this two link in youtube :



Eric, I know that I will maybe face the deadly threats by sending this email. But, I do this because I do believe in freedom.

Inasmuch as, you are one of the most influent persons in one of the most talented community (Hackers) in the world, I humbly ask you write about Iran and what’s going on there.

Please tell the world that Persian people are fight for freedom . Our fight is “weapon less” against a full armored enemy . Our weapon is our great civilization , is our will of freedom and is our prior experience over the history.

PLEASE tell the world that there is no doubt at all that we will see freedom as you saw it after destroying Hitler’s nightmare …

Sincerely Yours , [Rostam]

Rostam, I will indeed blog about this. I begin by publishing your plea, which despite its somewhat broken English is probably as eloquent as anything I could write on the matter. You have my promise of secrecy. I will have more to say in coming days.

And, an interesting contrast with my last email from Iran

Categorized as General


  1. Presidents don’t count much in Iran. Are they willing to go all the way down the road and overthrow the Supreme Leader and the Guardian Council? If not, getting Mousavi into the presidential seat will change nothing.

  2. Have to agree with Shenpen. What Iran needs is a change in their form of government, not just who works underneath the Supreme Leader/Guardian Council. It seems the only way they can achieve that is violence. I think they have to overthrow their government if they want to move away from a government dominated by grown men who rule based on a very dangerous meme.

  3. Well, according to https://sites.google.com/site/tatsumairanupdate/ one of the seven main demands of the protesters is to remove the Supreme Leader Khameini from power and replace him with Montazeri. Montazeri has long been an advocate of shifting most of the power of the guardian council to the president.

    The protests started out as being about getting Mousavi rather than Ahmadinejad, but at this point, they are about much more than that. I don’t think the people will be satisfied until the government looks drastically different and the constitution is modified.

  4. Eric, if you want to do something to help Iran, you should join the “hacktivists” who are helping the Iranians evade the government’s internet sniffing and censorship. We’re smaller and more organized than you might think. Our efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, though: one of us was assaulted, and I got a death threat by telephone last night. Email me or PM me on IRC if you’re interested.

  5. Shenpen, I’ve had my finger on the pulse of this revolution, and I’m confident that the answer to your question became “yes” on Friday. Khamenei’s sermon is going to be his undoing. Before Friday, the revolution could have been co-opted if Khamenei had declared a new election, but now that the violence has escalated they’re no longer looking for compromise.

  6. >Email me or PM me on IRC if you’re interested.

    Email you? Hell, I’ll say it in public, pour encourager les autres. Count me in. I’m emailing you my phone; talk to me about what I can do to help. I’ll support the resistance with my machines and my time – and if the mullahs’ proxies think they can frighten me, they’re welcome to come discuss the matter with me face-to-face. I’ll smear my bullets with pork grease just so they know they’re extra special welcome.

  7. >http://blog.austinheap.com/2009/06/15/how-to-setup-a-proxy-for-iran-citizens/

    Yup. I’m working with those guys now. I’ll probably post a streamlined set of directions for joining the proxy network shortly.

  8. Many protesters, such as in the ‘silent march’ on the 18th or 19th, specifically went out of their way to include pictures of historical figures and religious leaders to imply that they are not attempting to insult or contradict Iran’s ‘supreme religious leader’. The United States has overthrown democratic governments in the past through subversive means but it is unlikely the West would be able to topple this one without a direct military attack. The dissidents simply represent too small a proportion of Iranian society, and the people are getting sick of the discord in areas where the riots are taking place.

  9. Eric! This is a REAL WARNING! BE AWARE!

    Some jackass is playing a dirty game here and punking us around. It was ME who sent you a mail using my gmail account. I made a mistake of not using “https”. Someone has opened the package in between, read the material and changed it to his will. I never asked you to hide my identity. this is my original email:

    “Sun, Jun 21, 2009 at 3:58 PM

    Ongoing Massacre In Iran

    Dear ESR:

    Apart from looking upon you as a savvy hacker and highly respected
    software engineer, I’ve always admired your open support of freedom
    and praise-worthy braveness in expressing yourself even at a cost of,
    at least once, putting your life at stake.

    I don’t know whether you are following the current events in Iran or
    not. It takes 30 Secs of googling (fire up Google and whisper “Tehran
    tumult” or “Iran riots” to it). Iran is burning in the filthy and
    wicked hands of loathsome evil Islamofascists. Basij militia, Sepah
    death squads, anti-riot Police etc. are arresting and massacring young
    protesters who are mostly bright university students seeking better
    future and demanding nothing but a little justice and freedom.

    Here we are; a truly suffering nation: beleaguered, harassed and
    persecuted. “Neda” was just one of the innumerable innocent victims
    martyred in such a cruel manner:


    I myself participate in the ongoing demos and paid the price:
    Suspension from university due to “malicious misdemeanor”. But do you
    think we will halt the peaceful protests? No Sir, it’s just the
    beginning and this is our motto: I had one vote, I gave it to Mousavi.
    I have one life, I give it for freedom.

    I don’t expect you to be silent while these inhumane atrocities are
    directed towards us. I ask you to once again let your freedom-seeking
    genes kick in, wear the fit hat of that free-minded independent
    intellectual and do your good share in bringing into spotlight the
    sheer nastiness and the true image of the Iran’s Islamic govt. Use
    your status to project our voice to our western counterparts and
    spread the message of the “Persian Green Wave Movement”. Our “Green”
    movement needs the support of celebs of your stature. You can sign
    petitions and condemn Iran.

    But for the moment…I know that your blog is widely read and you’re a
    friend of freedom. Just a new post on this issue! I beg you with teary
    eyes of sadness. Let me and my fellow-countrymen know that people like
    you are “with us and against the Islamofacists”.

    With thanks,

    Your semi-regular Iranian commenter,
    Steven Ray”


    I don’t know the intention of the jackass who did this but I guess he may be a grass for Iranian govt.

  10. >I don’t know the intention of the jackass who did this but I guess he may be a grass for Iranian govt.

    Steven, I don’t have any reason to believe this guy was posing as you. In fact, when In asked him if he was you he specifically denied it.

    I’m glad to hear from you. Given what you’ve said about Ahmadinejad, I assumed you’d have been in the thick of the demonstrations; I was seriously worried that you might be jailed or dead.

  11. 1- Thanks for your concerns. Ofcourse I engage in the protests. Once in this very blog I told you that “I’m not praying for manifestation of your sweet nightmate” remember? I now edit it this way: I’m praying for manifestation of your sweet nightmare! :)

    2- Please check whether you have actually received my original mail (Sun, Jun 21, 2009 at 3:58 PM) or not. No less than 500 bloggers have been jailed in the previous 3 days by some of the dirtiest tricks one can hardly imagine.
    The astonishing resemblance of the two mails, their time of sending and embedding the same video link arises some serious doubt. The guy, who doesn’t have a good command of English, says that he is your regular commenter (the word I used at the end of my letter). I have been actively reading and commenting on your blog for the last 8 months and I haven’t detected any “regular” Iranian commenter yet.

    4- OK, I don’t want to represent myself as a delusional Don Quixote. Please understand me. If the Iranian who sent this is not an agent of the regime, he is actually on our side and a respectable friend and ally and I will apologize for calling him a “jackass”! :) But first I want to make sure.

  12. I’ll smear my bullets with pork grease just so they know they’re extra special welcome.

    As several times before, you’ve successfully demonstrated your lack of even the most basic knowledge about the beliefs of Islams. Your image of Shiite Islam must be heavily distorted and affected by stupid prejudices if you still think that Muslims fear pork, pork grease or pork blood in any way.

  13. ak, I guess you missed the mass of Muslims in the Twin Cities who raised a stink by refusing to handle pork products while they were working as supermarket cashiers…

    With that bit of debunking out of the way: Eric, while hold jihadis in the same contempt you do, I do wonder if there’s not a point to the criticisms that comments like that one alienate our friends in the Muslim world, too.

    Besides, after a double-tap of .40 S&W Hydra-Shok removes the jihadis in question from this life, I really don’t care which, if any, afterlife they wind up in.

  14. More than thirty years ago in college I had an Iranian friend. They are not as radical as the press has led us to believe. There is a large percent that are modern and moderate. I hope and pray that these people escape their repression and find freedom. I use GnomeSward2 software. There is a strict warning in the documentation on being careful in certain countries with using it and updating it. There has been a cat and mouse game going on with digital freedom for a long time.

  15. I’ll smear my bullets with pork grease just so they know they’re extra special welcome.

    If you don’t mind me asking this, what is the significance of smearing the bullets in pork grease?

  16. >If you don’t mind me asking this, what is the significance of smearing the bullets in pork grease?

    Pork is haraam (unclean) for a Muslim. At various times and places Muslims have believed that they would not get to Paradise if they died in a state of uncleanliness; indeed, the Indian Mutiny was triggered by the mere rumor that British-issue bullets had been lubricated with pork grease. So the implied threat is “You’ll die, and you’ll go to Jehannum because you die unclean.”

    This sort of superstition is still actually quite common among uneducated Muslims, as Jay correctly noted. To be fair to ak, there is one shred of validity to his objection; Shi’a muslims have a wider range of positions about the halal laws than Sunnis do, and it would probably be easier to find a Shi’a who was unbothered by the prospect of being shot with a pork-greased bullet than a Sunni.

    However, I had a rather specific threat scenario in mind when I wrote that. If the mullahs sent anyone to try to intimidate or kill me, odds are it wouldn’t be a relatively educated Persian with a relaxed attitude about halal. More likely it’d be a fresh-off-the-boat Lebanese peasant being run by Hezbollah, exactly the sort of ignorant superstitious dumbshit most likely to be rattled by the threat.

    >comments like that one alienate our friends in the Muslim world, too.

    It’s kind of a self-limiting problem. Anyone who’s offended by the suggestion that I might shoot a jihadi with pork-greased bullets is almost certainly on the other side already.

    Maybe Steven Ray can tell us to what extent that superstition still has normative force in Iran.

  17. The pork thing is weird. The original reason for banning it’s consumption, was because of extreme tapeworm problems.

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