Essays by Roya

The Stabbing of Salman Rushdie Renews Free Speech Debates

After the attack, Roya Hakakian, an Iranian American writer who in 2019 was warned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that she had been targeted by Iran, took to Twitter on Saturday to assail what she said was a lack of swift condemnation from U.S. government officials.

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Roya Hakakian and How to Speak About What No One Wants to Hear

What is a revolution, compared to matters as vast as those? The revolution at hand is, at first, a rumor. The neighbors take to dimming their lights and shouting “Allahu akbar!” at a certain time every evening, in order to participate in a larger Tehran protest against the Shah. In the Hakakian household, “Allahu akbar” makes everyone a little nervous. Then again, not shouting “Allahu akbar” likewise makes everyone a little nervous. Young Roya takes her place within the Jewish Iranian Students Organization. The Jewish students, a solid number of them, are the intrepid enemies of oppression across the board. They are the champions of Palestinian freedom. Ardently they burn for the Iranian revolutionary cause.

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To War Criminals Who Believe They Have Impunity, Think Again

As the Russian army leaves a trail of atrocity in Ukraine, a trial held here this month offers a powerful template for prosecuting war crimes. The Swedish case—involving a former Iranian official accused of participation in the mass murder of political prisoners in the late 1980s—is based on the principle of universal jurisdiction. According to this doctrine, the national courts of any state that has adopted this principle may prosecute someone suspected of grave crimes, no matter where they occurred and irrespective of the nationality of the suspect.

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The Refugee’s Internal Exile

The archive was, in fact, a repository of headstones photographed for the faraway relatives who can no longer visit their dead. The details of the image were scant, and yet, with eyes blurred by tears, I studied them. Dried leaves and dead grass lined the edges of the slab—cracked in some places, chipped in others. More than fifty years since it was first laid, this stone had endured, the last trace of the Hakakians in the land that had rejected them.

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Unveiling Iran

On December 27, 2017, a thirty-two-year-old woman climbed atop a utility box on a busy Tehran block called the Revolution Street. People usually do not clamber on

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Why They Stay

Among the world’s endangered minorities, Iranian Jews are an anomaly. Like their counterparts, their conditions categorically refute all the efforts their nation makes at seeming

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How Iran Kept Its Jews

“How Iran Kept Its Jews.” It was with a murder that the most critical moment in the modern history of Iranian Jewry took shape. And

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Smelly Little Orthodoxies of Iran’s Left

On a pleasant afternoon in early September of 1987, I was among a group of Iranians gathered under the overpass on the southeast corner of 42nd Street and First Avenue in New York City to protest President Ali Khamenei’s visit to the United Nations for the annual meeting of the General Assembly. Those were the good old days when the opposition spoke out, when their fury with the regime surpassed self-pity, nostalgia, and empty patriotism.

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A Cappuccino with the CIA

The invitation came in an email, written in the ingratiating tone of the Nigerian prince looking to wire his millions into my checking account, and delivered the same jolt of giddy disbelief: Officers of the Near East Affinity Group at the Central Intelligence Agency wanted me to address them on a variety of topics, including Persian poetry and literature. My day with them would be as long or as short as I wished it to be, and could include a tour of the C.I.A. museum, a luncheon and a visit to the gift shop.

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The Ayatollah’s Disarming Wit

On the streets and in taxicabs, political jokes abound. No one, especially the leadership, is spared, and no perspective is more telling or reliable than the anonymous satirist’s. A popular joke during the last presidential election invited Syrians also to vote: “After all, our president will be your finance minister, too!”

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I Heart Khomeini

Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett’s “Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms With the Islamic Republic of Iran” is a

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Roya in the News

January 30, 2022

P&P Live! Roya Hakakian 

Politics and Prose 

A Beginner’s Guide to America

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January 12, 2022

Immigration & the US Myths, Wonder & Realities

World Affairs Council of Houston

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November 6, 2021

A Beginner’s Guide to America 

JCC of Greater New Haven 

A Beginner’s Guide to America

October 26, 2021

Poet Laureate Presents: Meet Author Roya Hakakian 

Wallingford Public Library 

A Beginner’s Guide to America

October 20, 2021

From Iran to America: The Strengths and Struggles of Iranian Jewish Women 

Museum of Jewish Heritage

October 13, 2021

A Beginer’s Guide to America for the Immigrant and the Curious

 Texas A&M International University (Center for the Study of Western Hemispheric Trade) 

A Beginner’s Guide to America

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October 6, 2021

Speaker Series Southeast 

Connecticut World Affairs Council 

A Beginner’s Guide to America

September 23, 2021

Speaker Series

Rowan University

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August 25, 2021

Reading Refuge Book Club

Building Peaceful Bridges

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July 27, 2021

Identity, Literature and Art (Immigrant Identity) 

The Morgan Library & Museum

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May 24, 2021

A Beginner’s Guid to America 

World Affairs Council of Connecticut 

A Beginner’s Guide to America

May 12, 2021

Virtual Book Conversation with Roya Hakakian

The Jewish News of Northern California

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May 5, 2021

Roya Hakakian on her new book, “A Beginner’s Guide to America

American Purpose 

A Beginner’s Guide to America

April 29, 2021

A Thousand Years of Persian Poetry 

WomenNew York Public Library

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April 21, 2021

A Conversation with Roya Hakakian

The Lit Club by NAE

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April 20, 2021

A Beginner’s Guide to America 

American Jewish University (The Whizin Center for Continuing Education) 

A Beginner’s Guide to America

March 25, 2021

New to America? 

Here’s Where to Start Think on KERA

March 17, 2021

Literary Thursdays

Queens Public Library

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March 16, 2021

Acclaimed Iranian-American Author Shares Insights on the Immigrant Experience

Hudson Institute

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February 25, 2021

A Panel Discussion on the Status of Women’s Rights in Iran

The Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues

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February 17, 2021

The Persian Experience: Book Discussion with Roya Hakakian
ASF Institute of Jewish Experience

June 10, 2020

Growing up a Jewish Teenager in Iran

Junges Forum DIG Bremen

May 15, 2020

Nuclear Arms Agreements and Human Rights

The Federalist Society

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February 27, 2018

Iran’s Unfinished Revolution: What Began in 1979 Continues Today

Brandeis University

November 22, 2017

Why Does Iran Keep Its Jews?

Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel

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November 22, 2017

Reflecting on the Refugee Crisis 

Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Hamm Served as moderator

November 17, 2014

Roya Hakakian & Rabbi David Wolpe 

UCLA Hammer Museum Series on Iranian Jews 

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October 22, 2014

The Rise of Global Anti-Semitism

Woodrow Wilson Center

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March 18, 2014

CU Model UN & Cultural Events Board Present: Roya Hakakian

University of Colorado Boulder

February 5, 2014

Author Roya Hakakian Talks About Growing Up Under Political Suppression 

Keene State College Journey from the Land of No

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November 27, 2012

WCU Poetry House West Chester University 

Persian Poetry

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October 27, 2012

Book Talk on Assassins of the Turquoise Palace 

Foreign Policy Research Institute 

Assassins of the Turqoise Palace

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October 4, 2011

An Insider’s Guide to Iran’s Turmoil
UCF Global Perspectives Office