Book launch---Searching for Hassan: A Journey to the Heart of Iran
Terence Ward, author, began his discussion by describing the stereotypes that American media and government have created about Iran, noting that his book was first released in tandem with President Bush's State of the Union address in which he labeled Iran part of the "Axis of Evil." He then conveyed the need to appreciate Iran for its culture and people, making special note of Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian woman who recently won the Nobel Peace Prize. Ward noted this as an important symbolic gesture supporting Muslim women working towards equal rights. Despite the depth of Iranian culture, the American public continues to view Iran negatively, he said, but noted that readers of his book are taking an important step in dispelling the misperceptions that have thus far prevailed. "In the Middle East, as each day progresses, it's difficult to find light," he said. "Yet there is light and it is emanating."
Searching for Hassan describes Ward's family's search for Hassan Ghasemi, a "Persian father" to Ward and his family while Terence Ward's father served as an economic advisor in Tehran. The Wards left Iran in 1969 to move back to the U.S., and in 1998 they decided to visit Iran and attempt to locate Hassan despite State Department travel warnings at the time. The book speaks of the family's experiences traveling to Iran and relocating Hassan.