Mona’s Dream Film Update

It is a year and a half since we last visited the project to make a feature film about Mona Mahmudnizhad and the 9 other Baha’i women who were killed for their beliefs. It has been more than three and a half years since the first story was first mentioned (Passion of Mona).

But finally things seem to be coming together. The film, Mona’s Dream will go into pre-production in the fall with shooting planned for this winter and post-production into early next year.

Which would mean that if the everything goes to plan we can see the film next summer. The project has currently half of its financial budget ($7 million) and will hopefully be able to raise the rest going into (pre-)production.

Here are the confirmed actors so far for the project:

Keisha Castle-Hughes to play Mona Mahmudnizhad
Keisha was catapulted into stardom with the movie “Whale Rider” in 2002; for which she received an Academy Award nomination. There is no question she is a talented actress but I’m surprised by this casting because Keisha is twice the age of Mona (Steve corrected me – see comments).

Shohreh Aghdashloo to play Mona’s mother
Ms. Aghdashloo was the first high profile actor to be linked to Mona’s Dream.

Cas Anvar to play main interrogator
The Canadian born actor has been prolific both on the stage as well as in film with many roles in both TV and movies.

Nazanin Afshin-Jam (in her debut) to play Tahirih
The Canadian model (Miss World Canada 2003 and Miss World runner-up) and singer is active in human rights causes. She first took on the cause of Nazanin Mahabad Fatehi who was sentenced to death in Iran but who later received a new trial and was exonerated.

As well, a new foundation, inspired by the project and Mona’s life, has been created: Freedom to Believe Foundation.

Guidelines For Baha’is Serving on Institutions

If you’ve ever served on an LSA or other Baha’i institution, these guidelines may be familiar to you:

(1) Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.

(2) Make “speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of per­sonal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate “patriotic” comments.

(3) When possible, refer all matters to committees, for �further study and considera­tion.� Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.

(4) Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.

(5) Haggle over precise wordings of com­munications, minutes, resolutions.

(6) Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.

(7) Advocate “caution.” Be â€?reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reason­able” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.

(8) Be worried about the propriety of any decision — raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the juris­diction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

Even though you may not have seen them spelled out exactly as above, you probably have seen most of these guidelines implemented if you’ve ever served on an assembly, council or other institution. Heck, you may have even done exactly one or two or more of them yourself.

Guess what?

They come from a 1944 CIA manual on how to sabotage an organization from within.


You can view and download the whole declassified document: Simple Sabotage Field Manual (see page 28 for the excerpt above).

How Do You Say “Baha’i” In Sign Language?

bahai-sign-languageAs far as I know, there is no official way to sign “Baha’i” in sign language.

Stephen Bedingfield offers the suggested sign – to the left – for the deaf and hard of hearing community to represent the word “Baha’i”. If I’m blessed enough to have any readers from that community, I’d appreciate their input.

This reminds me of a story: One day I was dining at an outdoor cafe with a Baha’i friend when we were approached by a deaf person who simply placed a small, well-worn card on our table and walked away to do the same to the other tables.

When I picked it up I read that he was asking for money and explaining that he was deaf. When he returned to our table, my friend surprised him by speaking to him in sign language. At first he was shocked because she was not deaf but had by choice learned sign language.

I sat there transfixed for a few minutes as a dizzying array of finger and hand gestures flew in front of my face. I was curious what they were talking about but obviously had no way to know. After he had left my friend told me that she was trying to convince him to see himself as someone who could achieve more in life and not to accept that this was all he could be.

It didn’t look like she convinced him but it did, once again, renew the question of whether Baha’is are allowed or supposed to give alms to needy persons.

According to the Baha’i Faith, begging and asceticism are forbidden. But can we help those in dire need? should we? We have the example of Abdu’l-Baha who regularly pressed coins into the hands of beggars. We also have Writings which make the Baha’i institutions, and especially the Universal House of Justice, responsible for the well-being of the poor, orphans and elderly.

If ye meet the abased or the down-trodden, turn not away disdainfully from them, for the King of Glory ever watcheth over them and surroundeth them with such tenderness as none can fathom except them that have suffered their wishes and desires to be merged in the Will of your Lord, the Gracious, the All-Wise. O ye rich ones of the earth! Flee not from the face of the poor that lieth in the dust, nay rather befriend him and suffer him to recount the tale of the woes with which God’s inscrutable Decree hath caused him to be afflicted. By the righteousness of God! Whilst ye consort with him, the Concourse on high will be looking upon you, will be interceding for you, will be extolling your names and glorifying your action.

There is also this Hidden Word:

The best of men are they that earn a livelihood by their calling and spend upon themselves and upon their kindred for the love of God, the Lord of all words.

What are you thoughts? Have you ever given money to a beggar? did you feel guilty as a Baha’i? or do you make it a policy to not give money to beggars?

A Chat with a Baha’i Youth in Iran

I’m grateful to a “Anonymouz”, a reader, who forwarded an informal chat with a Baha’i youth living in Iran. The youth gave their permission for their conversation with Anonymouz to be made public (omitting his name).

My comment regarding the equal susceptibility of Baha’i youth in Iran to the same societal pressures as other youth upset a few fellow Baha’is. We seem to have an idealized picture of Baha’i youth as spotless “Supermans”, somehow remaining pure even while swimming in the foulest muck. While I don’t doubt that there are Baha’i youth in Iran who do fit that bill, I also acknowledge that they are for the most part, human, just like you and I.

Being young and living in a very harsh and restrictive atmosphere, it is only natural that they “rebel”. This is true for religious youth or those who have no real religious identities or beliefs. Such pressures are even more pronounced when the ideals of the Baha’i Faith are heaped upon them and to top it off! the constant and growing pressure of potential religious persecution.

Depression is rampant among the Iranian youth. So is drug abuse and other activities not suitable for explicit mention in a family friendly blog. In any case, I hope that my characterization of the unfortunate situation in the Cradle of the Faith is not misconstrued by some as an attack on the precious Baha’i youth in Iran but rather as even more reasons why they deserve to exit and live in a free and just society.

What follows is an informal, somewhat rambling “chat”. I’m sure your honors will forgive Anonymouz for leading the witness. The Baha’i youth in Iran, whoever he or she is, does offer some interesting information. Finally, I should also mention that I simply take Anonymouz on his/her word and have no way to verify if s/he did indeed have this conversation with a Baha’i in Iran. Enjoy and please keep the Baha’is of Iran in your thoughts and prayers.

Baha’i youth in Iran: allah u abha Mr …!!!!
Me: Allah’u’Abha!
Me: Chetori agha [how are you]
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