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From Avenue D to Ahmadinejad: Cohen Speaks to Iranian President

photo(234)Melvin Felix

Stanley Cohen has had a busy week.

Not only is he defending Mona Eltahawy, the commentator arrested Tuesday after defacing a provocative pro-Israel poster, but the Alphabet City-based lawyer spoke his mind about U.S.-Iranian relations to none other than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, The Local has learned.

Asked if it might have been unwise to meet with the oft-condemned Iranian president and other government officials during a time of heightened international tension – and on the eve of Yom Kippur, no less – Mr. Cohen said, “I don’t worry about crossing lines.”

That’s evident from his client list, which includes members of the hacker group Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street as well as alleged terrorists. His latest cause, Ms. Eltahawy, an Egyptian-American columnist, faces misdemeanor graffiti charges after spray-painting an anti-jihad ad in the Times Square subway station – an act that Mr. Cohen told the Daily News was an exercise in free speech.

On the day Ms. Eltahawy was arrested, Mr. Cohen was making some bold statements of his own: he was among a handful of U.S.-based speakers invited to the midtown hotel where Mr. Ahmadinejad was staying to share their views of the Middle East with the Iranian president. Also in attendance were Iran’s Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, and its Ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Khazaee. Read more…

Frowned Upon in Homeland, Iranians Celebrate Ancient Holiday at La Plaza Cultural

woman_jumpsSasha Von Oldershausen Women and children hopped over the symbolic fires on Tuesday night.

Iranians from as far away as Houston, Texas crowded into La Plaza Cultural Community Garden on Tuesday night to observe a holiday that celebrates Iran’s pre-Islamic past.

“Chahārshanbe-Sūri,” or, “Red Wednesday,” is rooted in Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions. The holiday, which precedes the Persian New Year, occurs on the eve of the last Wednesday of the Zoroastrian calendar. Since the 2009 elections, the Iranian government has tried to dissuade residents from celebrating the holiday considered un-Islamic, though many continue to celebrate it throughout the country.

Children and adults alike hopped over bonfires lit at sunset to symbolize the passage of the old year.

Simin Farkhondeh, the event organizer, felt a particular pleasure in the gathering. “It’s a celebration of resistance,” she said.

Ms. Farkhondeh has coordinated the event at La Plaza for the past three years. She said the celebration was a way for her to reminisce about the holiday with fellow Iranians, and to share a lesser-known cultural tradition with the community.

“Since I left Iran, I felt a need to do this,” Ms. Farkhondeh said. “I wanted to share something really beautiful.”
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