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Iranian Canadian Journalist saved by L. Cohen

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 8:22 am
by PhilMader
Iranian Canadian journalist, Maziar Bahari, says he was regularly beaten and threatened with execution while imprisoned in Iran for 118 days.
He claims singing Leonard Cohen's song, The Sisters of Mercy, saved him from committing suicide, and gave him the strength to continue. see VIDEO CLIP ... 1339386638

The story is below. ... rview.html

touching news story

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 8:40 am
by st theresa
Bahari said he felt the walls were closing in around him while in solitary confinement, but he was comforted as he hummed the words to Leonard Cohen's song, Sisters of Mercy. He said the title came to him in a dream about two women who both looked like his sister.

"And all of a sudden this universe was created, this universe that was guarded by Mr. Leonard Cohen, and it was just ridiculous to me that this old Jewish [man], and one of the most cynical poet songwriters in the world, managed to save me in the heart of the Islamic Republic." ... rview.html

In the televised interview, Mr. Bahari describes this dream where two women come to him in solitary confinement bringing him such solace that he stopped thinking of suicide. He asked in his dream who they were and they told him they were Sisters of Mercy. When he awoke he began to hum the song to himself.
The video gets into talking about Leonard at about 18 minutes. Mr. Bahari says that Mr. Cohen was his saviour in prison..

Re: touching news story

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 3:48 pm
by GinaDCG
Hooray! He's free! And yet another soul aided by Cohen's words!

I saw the 60 Minutes interview last night in which at one point, his remembers describing his captors as "dumb."

So they thought Jason Jones of "The Daily Show" was a REAL spy? Dark humor alert: tune in to The Daily Show tonite and tomorrow to see what they do with this information. With material like this they don't need writers! Perhaps laughter is, even though it seems trite, the most effective weapon we have against The Islamic Republic of Iran

Re: Iranian Canadian Journalist saved by L. Cohen

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 5:05 pm
by wakeupmartin
Thanks for posting that. I'm always moved and inspired by such stories, especially as there seemed no hatred in him towards his torturers. Maziar Bahari, what a man! (even though he did describe LC as 'one of the most cynical poet songwriters in the world'!)

Re: Iranian Canadian Journalist saved by L. Cohen

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 5:20 pm
by DrHGuy
The story of Maziar Bahari is indeed touching. It is also, however, a rare opportunity to listen to and read the words of an especially articulate man, facing humiliation, torture, and the possibility of the end of his existence, describing the strength, solace, and sustenance he found in the music of Leonard Cohen. Bahari's complete report published in Newsweek is available at

I urge anyone interested in the impact of Leonard Cohen's work to view the primary source for this story, the CBC video referenced in the earlier posts. For anyone who watches the CBC video and is interested in a bit more of the details, I've excerpted the portions of the Newsweek report dealing with Cohen's music and embedded a video of the Daily Show segment used by Bahari's captors as evidence against him at ... ival-made/

Re: Iranian Canadian Journalist saved by L. Cohen

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 6:57 pm
by AvidCohenFan
It says I'm not allowed to view the Daily Show video in my country! How do I see it :?: By the way, this reminded me that I had a very nice dream recently that Garry Shandling of The Larry Sanders Show was going to be interviewed on The Daily Show.

Re: Iranian Canadian Journalist saved by L. Cohen

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 7:36 pm
by st theresa
as usual Dr H has the unabridged and beautifully embellished version of this story. I encourage anyone reading this to check out his site--and if anyone read my little spiteful retort that that I posted and then deleted, I am sorry I let ego take control for a few minutes.

Re: Iranian Canadian Journalist saved by L. Cohen

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 11:11 pm
by LisaLCFan
What a wonderful story! I'm sure that we have all sought solace in Leonard's music and poetry at one time or another, hopefully under much less horrific circumstances than those faced by Mr. Bahari. I hope Leonard learns of this, so that he will know once again how important his work is, and how inspirational it can be. "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in!"

Re: Iranian Canadian Journalist saved by L. Cohen

Posted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 12:12 am
by ladydi
What an amazing story and video. Mr. Bahari is so softly well-spoken that one has to almost shake their head to realize the horror of his experience, and to remember that there are still thousands going through this same horror on a daily basis. I can see retreating into Leonard's words and music as a way to maintain an alternate existence through such terrifying moments. Sustenance. I think of the words of Sharon's song....and Leonard does indeed give us sustenance.

I truly hope that one day Mr. Bahari and Leonard will meet. I think it would be an emotional encounter.

Thank you to everyone for sharing. To PhilMader for bringing us the video interview, and for DrHGuy for bringing us additional video and the article. This is very powerful.

Re: Iranian Canadian Journalist saved by L. Cohen

Posted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 4:37 am
by lizzytysh
I've read about this in this thread and tomorrow night I'll read about and watch the real thing. It, indeed, is powerful. Thanks to both of you for bringing this to us in your differing ways.

~ Lizzy

Re: Iranian Canadian Journalist saved by L. Cohen

Posted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 12:19 pm
by Sasha K
Just read this moving story,the headliner in Newsweek Nov 30 issue, in a bookshop in Japan....first time I`ve picked up that mag in decades. Mr Bahari also refers to " The Partisan" and " So Long Marianne" as having sustained him, and says " Of such stuff survival is made. Thank you, Mr Cohen."

I, too, hope they meet. This kind of thing does more than we realize to change the collective unconsciousness in the direction of peace. Thank you, Mr Bahari. Thank you, Leonard.

Re: Iranian Canadian Journalist saved by L. Cohen

Posted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:10 pm
by mirka
wow, very touching !

Leonard's music has this quality of creating a safe "universe guarded by Mr. Leonard Cohen".
Iranian journalist's story is extreme but not unique.
Some of Leonard's Polish fans have been through similar experience during the Martial law period in Poland in '80, and I found on YouTube comment saying something to the effect "this man got me once out of a very deep depression with his songs".
Personally I think he hypnotizes with his voice, and then everything seems possible ;-)
I found on the Forum report of a Polish fan I had in mind: it's by Mirek, who I understand is the spokesman for the Krakow event:
1982 - martial law in Poland - I was in the army (compulsory one year after
graduating university). In some sullen barrack I am sitting by some broken
table - translating "Sisters of Mercy". Believe me, Leonard's poetry really
helped me to remain normal surrounded by an abnormal world full of hate.


Re: Iranian Canadian Journalist saved by L. Cohen

Posted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 8:17 pm
by lizzytysh
Thank you, PhilMader, for bringing this moving videotape here. Having been given the totally unanticipated gift of time today, I was able to watch your initial footage from beginning to end. I don't seem to have almost 40 minutes at a stretch available these days. To fully appreciate this man's circumstances and the relevance of Leonard's songs in his life, this must be watched fully and uninterrupted. The horrors of the world we are living in are in understated ways described by Maziar Bahari and this interview provides the full and necessary context for the crucial role Leonard played in Maziar's private world and literal, secret life. The significance of the details of the scent of rosewater, the extraordinarily thick glasses, and the leather slippers were graphically evocative of the dramatic contrast between the world he was in and the one in which I live.

We talk of our stranded-on-a-desert-island picks [at the same time we know the unlikelihood of that ever happening], but have we ever imagined being held captive for months, knowing that being hung or other torturous means of death, or at the least, insanity, were very real possibilities, and what words and melodies might sustain us and keep our minds, hearts, and souls whole. This interview is powerful. I've yet to read the articles provided by st theresa and DrHGuy and, perhaps, Sasha K , but I will.

Somehow, the cream always rises to the top. As a must-happen meeting, this has risen to the top. It far surpasses 'wouldn't it be wonderful if Leonard and he could meet...' ~ it is a compelling 'Leonard and Maziar must meet' ~ as much as my sitting with Leonard meant and will always mean to me, if there were only one way that these two could meet and speak, and that way was for an exchange to be made between my time with Leonard and theirs, I would trade. I do not minimize my own when I say this, but the import of Leonard in this man's life is, in and of itself, legendary.

As hard as we try, we in the Western world cannot imagine what this man's 118 days and the terror, and mental, emotional, and physical torture, he endured were really, truly like. The man who wrote Sisters of Mercy, So Long Marianne, The Future, Democracy, First We Take Manhattan, Take This Waltz, If It Be Your Will, Anthem, and Dance Me to the End of Love, and who chose to sing The Partisan, I believe can.

As Mirka has noted, some have been deeply depressed and near suicide and Leonard's songs have saved them. Fortunately, I've never been one who has neared suicide, though I have found the comfort I needed, through Leonard, during various other times of depression. I will never minimize the importance that Leonard has played in these people's lives. I believe we all have, at one time or another, had to confront and deal with our own emotional prisons... however, to find ourselves in a foreign land in a literal one, where torture and death are the norm for these circumstances, and to have only four, hard walls in solitary confinement as our daily environment, to be blindfolded and not knowing of our outcome, to live with the horror of ongoing, serious threats... these weigh so heavily beyond anything I could ever imagine for myself... and, I dare say, for most others. The whole of this interview reveals the magnitude of the context in which Maziar's dream and Leonard's song appears.

May Leonard never question the import he has had and will continue to have in people's lives. When we speak of the eternal themes in Leonard's songs, it is in the extreme nature of Maziar's circumstances and how he dealt with them [as well as others's who are deeply depressed and suicidal], coming face-to-face with the eternal and finding solace in the redemptive nature of Leonard's songs, that drives these truths home.

How much I hope to one day read [or, even if I don't read it, to think it might] that Leonard sought out Maziar, so Maziar could thank him face-to-face for the saviour's role Leonard played in his life, and so they could speak about the joy of being there when their child is born; the pleasure, joy, and sustenance of a woman's body [and a beloved's body, and baby within], even when imagination is their only source; and of how we find solace in whatever way is possible... and as both being men who have conceived themes for filmmaking and have each in their own way been journalists... so much they could talk about, including living in Montreal... the differences between Leonard's ''four in the morning'' and Maziar's 'then' [and having read the article] and Maziar's 'now'... and whatever else... how much I hope for these cannot really be expressed. Not even being privy to the content of their conversation; but only learning that their meeting took place, this would be enough.

I can only deeply hope and plead [longer, stronger, and more serious than Roscoe].
Please, Leonard, please.

There will only be one Leonard Cohen. For all this man has experienced, and for all that you have brought him through; may Maziar Bahari one day meet and spend in-person time with you.

~ Lizzy

Re: Iranian Canadian Journalist saved by L. Cohen

Posted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:34 pm
by hydriot
lizzytysh wrote:As Mirka has noted, some have been deeply depressed and near suicide and Leonard's songs have saved them.
But sadly not Daphne Richardson, nor I suspect many others who we do not hear of.

Re: Iranian Canadian Journalist saved by L. Cohen

Posted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 2:59 am
by lizzytysh
I deeply regret that all who knew Leonard's music have not been saved by it, during the time they were contemplating and then completing the act of suicide. It is sad knowing that Daphne was not one of them, and neither was Yasmine. I take heart, though, in those who were saved by the comfort and understanding he brought them at such a dire and desperate time in their lives. Every life matters. I wish they all were able to meet Leonard, as I feel and believe they would want to personally thank him for being there for them in his way.

With this current situation, Maziar Bahari is a humble person whose name is known, and whose circumstances are many layers, and a thousand horrors and kisses deep... and he is reachable. It's not a 'Leonard on Demand' situation; yet, it would feel so right if they were to meet... somehow initiated by Leonard.

~ Lizzy