I am at the tiny police base in my parents’ neighborhood in Kuala Lumpur. I’ve come to report the loss of my Identity Card, a document Malaysians must carry at all times.
* Kaveh Bassiri *
Over the last few weeks, I have been following the social media posts of Iran’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Javad Zarif. Much has been written on the vital role of social networking during the Iranian Green Movement — how it helped to organize people and disseminate information. The Green Movement was even called the first Twitter or Facebook revolution. In the aftermath, Iran banned these sites, which probably reinforced their importance. I don’t want to rehash what others have already said — the role of social media in Iranian politics has been exaggerated — but I am interested in the innovative and progressive ways Zarif has been able to turn these banned tools into a resource for the government. What seemed to be a revolutionary venue outside of the regime may be re-purposed into a pathway for reform from the inside. Reading Zarif’s Facebook page lets you know more about the Iranian people than any article in an American or Iranian newspaper. It is like eavesdropping on conversations in cafes and streets. As this conversation unfolds in Persian, allow me to translate it for you.
On July 14th, the Prime Minister and First Lady of Malaysia had a private audience with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace. The Prime Minister, Najib Razak, wore a dark suit; the First Lady, Rosmah Mansor, wore a pale blue baju kebaya, a traditional Malay women’s garment that harks back to a time before Malay culture was as heavily Islamised/Arabised as it is today.