Reports and breaking news

Girlfriend had hoped to wed McNair

Sahel Kazemi, from a family vacation.

Woman's family was leery of affair with former Titan

By all accounts it was a whirlwind romance.

It started about six months ago, when former Titans quarterback Steve McNair exchanged phone numbers with Sahel Kazemi, a then-19-year-old waitress working at Dave & Buster's restaurant at Opry Mills. Saturday, the relationship ended in tragedy, as the couple was found shot to death in a downtown condominium.

Police continue to investigate the circumstances of the events leading up to the deaths, but according to friends of Kazemi, she was smitten and so was McNair.

{josquote}Kazemi and her family moved to the U.S. in 2002, fleeing Iran to Turkey before settling in Florida. As members of the Baha'i Faith, they were in danger in Iran.{/josquote}

For her 20th birthday in late May, McNair got her a black Cadillac Escalade. Her family met him over sushi dinner that same weekend. Before that, Kazemi zipped around in his Bentley, telling family and friends about the generosity of her new beau — a former professional athlete.

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Parallels to 1979 Revolution

While no one knows what the end game is for the massive protests that have roiled Iran this past week, everyone is noticing the parallels with the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

The irony is not lost on those in power in the current regime. If anything it heightens the stress they feel. For 30 years they have convinced themselves that threats would only come from the ‘evil’ external forces of Britain, USA and the like. They can not believe that their own people are against them.

Of course they are trying to paint the demonstrators as agents of foreign powers, manipulated into protesting. But this only serves to intensify the rage of the Iranian people on the street.

{josquote}The only thing I have is a gut feeling that things will get worse – much worse – before improving.{/josquote}

A red line has been crossed and the game has changed. While Mousavi is an old guard and wants to maintain the existing power structures and work within them, the movement has morphed beyond this.

There are now open cries of ‘Death to Khamanei’… something absolutely unheard of before. What is more, as the legitimacy and supremacy of the Supreme Leader is being assailed by loud and boisterous protesters on the street, a much more insidious threat is approaching from Qom.

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The Baha'i Faith, Iranian Elections and Social Media

Angela Shortt

Last Friday (June 8), started out like so many beginning-of-the-weekend nights—I finished doing my nightly meditations and prayers, then went over to my computer for one last check my emails and Facebook/Twitter accounts. At first, I didn’t notice anything different. But then I saw several people re-posted (known as “re-tweet” in Twitter Land) information on the Iranian elections. As a Baha’i, the elections have been of particular interest to me and many other Baha’is around the world, namely because there are a group of  Baha’i women and men who have been unjustly thrown into Tehran’s notoriously brutal prison, the Evin Prison, for the “crime” of being members of the Baha’i Faith, which is “spreading corruption on the earth” a charge that could result in the death penalty. Also, they have been charged with "espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic Republic".

{josquote}It didn’t matter to me personally that some of the people protesting the elections probably dislike or mistrust Baha’is.{/josquote}

There have been many Baha’i arrests in recent months, which, in retrospect, could be seen as a prelude to the tumultuous events in Iran over the past week. However, it has been precisely one year since the arrest of the Iranian Baha’i leaders who formed an informal administrative body for the affairs of Baha’is in Iran. Normally, Baha’is have a National Spiritual Assembly in their country that handles administrative duties on a national level. However, the Baha’is of Iran have been without a National Spiritual Assembly since June, 1980, after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The members of the NSA disappeared, and they are presumed dead. However, since the mid 19th century, Baha’is have been repeatedly denied their basic rights such as the right to meet and worship, have employment, own property and have education available to their children.

Initially, my (very naïve) hope was that the more moderate candidate would at least give the Baha’is more consideration concerning their human rights, but I have since abandoned that hope. Despite some political differences with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, there has been no indication that Presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi would do anything but defer to the commands of the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khamenei, who is steadfast in his condemnation of the 300,000 Baha’is living in Iran. This was disheartening, but I was reminded that there is a time for change, and that change does not always occur on my personal timetable.

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Baha'i members from Iran closely watching election protests

Todd Kutches

SEATTLE - Iran is bracing for another day of mass protests in defiance of the country's leader. The clashes are in response to a disputed presidential election after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected.

Many people in Western Washington with ties to Iran and are closely watching the developments there.  Some have fled persecution because of their religious beliefs. From here, they watch the clashes in a place where human rights are often ignored.

Todd Kutches is an officer of the Baha'i faith in Western Washington.  Iran is the birthplace of the Baha'i religion. 

"What's going on right now in Iran is what is happening in many countries. People looking for a greater voice and a greater sense of freedom," said Todd Kutches, Baha'i Auxiliary Board Member.

Many Baha'i members from Iran are watching the clashes with intense interest.

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Iran monument: daughter of the builder shares her story

Freedom Monument

About/Bio: I am the daughter of Hossein Amanat, the architect of the Freedom Monument in Tehran. I grew up in Vancouver and have two sons of my own.

My take: As I sit here watching all the news about the protests and situation in Iran, I feel compelled to tell the story of my family.

My father, Hossein Amanat, the architect of the Freedom Monument in Tehran, has been a Vancouver resident for the past 30 years.

As a young graduate, he won a nationwide competition for its design, and since that time, the Freedom Monument has become a symbol of modern Iran. It is also the venue for the protests and demonstrations that are currently taking place.

{josquote}My family feels very proud of the people standing up for freedom and justice in Iran and of those who are at the forefront of this movement, risking their lives for these ideals.{/josquote}

Thirty years ago, my parents fled Iran when the Shah was overthrown by the very regime that is being opposed by the Iranian people today. Since he was not Muslim and had designed this monument for the Shah, my father was blacklisted by the Islamic regime. As a child here in Vancouver, I remember my family glued to the television watching the protests and Ayatollah Khomeini. Now, all these years later, I see my son witnessing something eerily familiar.

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