This is a (slowly getting lengthy) section of Iran: An Independent Travel Guide, edited by Pierre Flener.

Copyright © 1996-2005 Pierre Flener. All rights reserved. Do not duplicate or redistribute in any form without written permission. Last updated 17 May 2005 by Pierre Flener.

Opinions on the Book/Movie "Not Without My Daughter"

Editor's note: Go to Amazon bookstore, for instance, and search for "Betty Mahmoody" or "Not Without My Daughter" to find many more opinions on this book/movie.
From: Hamid Ganjineh (
Newsgroups: soc.culture.iranian
Subject: "Not without my daughter"
Date: June 1996

> I have just finished reading "Not wihtout my daughter" and am
> really interested to know both sides of story, especially from an
> Iranian life point of view. Is the book fair? Do Iranians treat
> their women like objects? What are other peoples opinions on the
> book? Does anyone know what happened to Dr Mahmoody?

I haven't read the book but I've seen the film. They say the film is not
as bad as the book itself.

You'll hear a lot of Iranians saying "that's all not true".

In my opinion there are three basic points to this story:

- Betty wrote this book as a revenge _and_ to earn money. So you can
 imagine that there's a lot of lies in there to make it hurtful for
 Iranians and make it worth to buy for others.

- Many Iranians are ashamed of a big part of their country. For them Iran
 is only Tehran and Tehran is only "xiAbun Pahlavi". They do not like to
 be reminded of the situation in the villages, or the percentage of the
 illiterates, etc. They do l*** Iran but they l*** the Iran they have
 build in their minds and not the real thing.

- What almost everyone forgets about "not without my daughter" is the part
 "daughter". I have heard that she helps her mother in her promotion
 trips and that she's very intelligent. One day this very same daughter
 will shit on Betty's head for the lies she had told her or had written in
 her book.

There are families like Mr. Mahmoodi's in Iran. There are families which
are much worse than his. There are families which were like that even
before the revolution. You hardly find anyone here who would identify
her/himself with the behaviour and the tradition in that family. But
believe me there are a lot of "amme joon"s in Iran. They kill sheeps on
the street. They don't take a shower twice a day. Etc, etc.

A lot of what she has written is true. These are the parts that disturb us
Iranians the most. And a lot of it is bullshit too, like her escape from
Iran, or that their stay in Iran was not meant to be for good, etc.

To your questions:

- Is the book fair? The book is not fair. It's a revenge. There is a lot
 of truth and a lot of lies in it. But this should not disturb anyone,
 there are lots of books telling a lot of lies about us and others.

- Do Iranians treat their women like objects? Some do, some don't. Just
 like anywhere else in the world. Some laws do not protect women as much
 as they do in western countries, some laws are so unfair to men, they
 make you laugh. Some individuals treat their wives, daughters, sisters
 like objects, some respect and treat them more and better than their
 father, son, brother.

- Does anyone know what happened to Dr Mahmoody? He's an old man living a
 sad life in Iran, away from his daughter.

I think the best way to react to this book and Betty's revenge and
non-Iranian's reaction is to tell the whole truth and not try to present a
virtual Iran we have made in our minds. Many of us tend to hide the parts
we don't like or cann't indetify ourselves with. Iran is a great country,
but there's good and bad there just like anywhere else in the world.

An average person in today's world must be able to recognize that not
everything they read is true. If you see someone who's naive enough to
believe Betty's lies and does not want to know the truth or hear the other
side, then this person's opinion is not worth being cared about. Let them
think what they want.


To: Pierre Flener
Subject: My Opinion on "Not Without My Daughter"
Date: July 1999

Who really knows if any of this book is true in any area whatsoever?  Where
are the witnesses to all these events?  Protected by the writer?  That's a
good way not to have to prove all these allegations and events that Betty
Mahmoody claims happened?  Maybe it all happened just like she said but
maybe it did not!!!  She seemed happy in her book when he was a doctor but
didn't seem too happy in the movie when he told her he lost his job...  So
what is it???

Do women generally feel important when they are married to a doctor and
maybe later decide they don't if the man loses his position or takes
another one???  Was it possibly a jealousy because Mahtob loved her daddy
(according to the movie), even in the dialogue Betty called her a "daddy's

Folks should just hope that Mahtob someday finds her daddy, Sayeed Bozorg
Mahmoody, and he can tell her his side of what happened when Betty Mahmoody
"took his child" from him.  The child belongs to both parents but there are
some women who try to run their children's lives no matter the cost to the
child in the end when the woman is unhappy or a divorce is imminent.

Maybe it was a difficult as Betty says and maybe it was not difficult at
all.  She claims to have been to college?  Seems like she might have been
smart enough to find out the protocol of a foreign country before going
there!  Many of us have been overseas and we make it a point to learn at
least the customs so we don't offend people.  How smart is that?

She claims to have believed that her child would be taken from her
someday...  Well she claims a lot but where is the proof against this man
and his family?  Isn't it strange that she can't let it go and even keeps
his name with some excuse or another, but neither Dr. Mahmoody nor his
family seem to have been causing havoc about all this for all these years!

I know how stories were made up and manipulated in order to convince me of
untruths from my mother and it took decades into my adult life before
finally finding out the truth, even from her own family members, so I
really wish Dr. Mahmoody would write his own account of all that
happened...  Then maybe somewhere in the middle would be the truth and that
poor child, Mahtob, could at least make up her own mind without the
influence of others!


Subject: Re: Betty Mahmoody's Book and Movie "Not Without My Daughter"
Date: August 2000
From: somebody@somewhere (name withheld upon request)
To: the editor

I first read the book and then saw the movie not without my daughter and I
thought it was a horrible life this woman had.  I wasn't Muslim.  I am
really quite thankful to Betty Mahmoody because I began looking into Islam
in detail, as a result of her book, then her movie following it.I sent a
letter to the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington D.C.  requesting any
information they might have and would share with me on Islam.  I sent it
there because it was my understanding that time Islam began in that area.
I have always liked going to the source.  Anyway shortly thereafter I
received a packet free of charge from the embassy which contained the most
wonderful supply of information.  I read every one of the pamphlets and
brochures that same night.  Betty's book and movie then seemed to me to be
nothing more than a woman's problem in just one more marriage that
shouldn't have been.  The good part was that I also found True Islam
through trying to see what the big hurrah over her story was by everyone.
For that, I must even say that Allah has used Betty Mahmoody to convince me
of the Truth of Islam.

People should read every word of the book very carefully.  A mature and
discerning adult already knows that mental and emotional maturity play a
majoy role in any failed marriage as well as in the ability to see what is
really happening around them in reality, as opposed to some perceived

After becoming a more mature adult, I understood this woman's book much
better.  I had a lot of questions when I was told this woman professed to
be of one of the Luthren sects within the Christian Religions.  Also I was
surprised to learn that her marriage to Mahmoody) wasn't her first and that
she had other children before Mahmoody's that didn't even live with her.  I
read a page in one of the Luthren sites that claimed her as one of their
famouse 'Writers' and it made me laugh.  Where were they when she was
getting a divorce from another man and then where were they when she was
marrying the Doctor, a non-Christian?  I only find that curious because my
own family members are Luthrens and must have learned a whole different set
of doctrines etc.

When I reread the book and watched the movie a second time and then even a
third, it seemed really one sided.  Younger people or less experienced
people concerning international laws, who read and watched her story, may
not have understood the seriousness of her running through the streets of
Tehran without a member of her family.  She knew the rules of the country
and the laws.  She's also the one that kept saying the place was so
incredibly dangerous, but still she was out alone?  I thought she couldn't
be out alone?  Seems like when you look at the movie from a more opened and
educated understanding you see that she certainly spent a whole lot of time
in the shop with the man she claimed responsible for getting her out of the
country.  She seemed to even be able to drive around in his car with him
and even be in his own home with him.  I didn't make it up, I didn't have
to, it's in her own movie, if you watch it with a clear mind instead of a
prejudiced one.

Unless Dr.  Mahmoody or someone in his family agrees to a book deal, to
tell the other side of the story, I guess we will never know if Betty
actually did what she claimed or if she took a cab to the airport and
simply left.  I find it amazing that she was in a foreign country, knew the
rules, was told what the laws were many times by different people and still
proceeded to break even the smallest laws without regard for the
difficulties she might be causing to others in Dr. Mahmoody's family.

Betty claims to have been consultant on the film.  She put in a scene about
showing her hair in public, knowing it wasn't allowed at that time in that
country.  She also put in the scene at the first meal in the Mahmoody home,
showing the actress appearing with a low cut dress, her bare legs curled in
front of her, making a giggling comment that she guessed it meant they
'could eat' after Bismillah was said.  It seemed that she was trying from
the start to make Dr.  Mahmoody take sides almost with her comments about
how the sister 'looked' at her.  If she had a question about the look she
should have discussed it like an adult with Dr.  Mahmoody in front of the
sister, not making childish comments behind everyones back.  She allowed
the movie to put in her comment about the country seeming so "backward and

The movie (again that she claimed to be consultant on) really seemed to
show Betty using every opportunity to cause the Mahmoody family not only
embarrassment, but also trouble with the authorities.  If a mature person
reads the book and watches the film then they will pick up on the intrinsic
values that really speak hidden in the backdrop of jealousies and vengeful
needs for self attention.  If someone comes to a country, let's just say
you have someone from another country coming to America and they break the
laws and the moral codes of the region, don't you agree that they should be
punished or sent away from our country?

Well Betty was not only a guest in Iran but also by law, considered a
citizen through marriage.  Mahtob was the daughter of Dr.  Mahmoody as
well, and was also an Iranian citizen when she was in that country.  When
Dr.  Mahmoody decided he wanted to stay in his country why is that such a
ridiculous idea for anyone to comprehend.  Let's say again, for example,
you are an American and you go to another country and find that it isn't
what you thought it was nor was it a place you wanted to bring up your
children or make a life for yourself?  You would return to America wouldn't
you?  Why would it be any different for Dr.  Mahmoody?

So now the family is in Iran.  Dr.  Mahmoody wants to try to stay there
with his family and go to work there.  Betty wanted to go back to her own
country.  Well of course she did, and most of us understand that too.
However, the movie and her story (which again she claims to have been the
consultant on) showed that all she did was yell, scream, make accusations,
throw out destructive and undignifying statements, not only about Dr.
Mahmoody and his family but also about his country as well as him wanting
to bring Mahtob up in his own religious beliefs.  Even though this story
shows differently and unfairly so, most mentally and emotionally mature
American do have the ability to discuss issues, instead of engaging in
emotional screaming fits of anger and self centerdness.The movie, itself
(Betty's consulting again) showed Betty as a woman who didn't really care
about what anyone had to say except her own views.  She appeared to be a
woman who put herself (at least she claims to have done so) and her own
little girl in what could have resulted in great physical harms way.

Perhaps all that screaming, shouting and demanding personality is what was
being shown to the Doctor and his family.  If that type of behavior went on
around me with my children's spouses (I have two who are of other cultures
and speak very little English) then I would wonder about their stability.
It occurred to me, since Betty was in Iran was considered a citizen through
marriage to Dr.  Mahmoody, that this grown woman should have handled
herself in a more mature way.  At that time in Iran it was not a time to
break laws one after another at will.  Not only could she have suffered the
consequences but she could have put the Mahmoody family in jeopardy since
she was living under their roof.

If you look at the actual facts of the case as opposed to looking at every
emotional outburst this woman has had, you might find that it was Betty
that removed the Mahmoody child illegally from a country the family was
living in.  For instance, if Dr.  Mahmoody had not taken Betty to Iran with
him, but instead simply grabbed Mahtob up, ran around the streets of
America breaking our country's laws, finally putting the child in harm's
way in order to spirit her out of America and to Iran, then what?  How then
would this story have played out?  Betty would probably STILL be doing what
she's doing because then she could have been complaining that DR.  MAHMOODY
was the criminal and kidnapper and I suppose everyone would be trying to
hunt him down then right?  Wouldn't he have become an international
kidnapper and criminal?  The problem is that Betty was the one that
illegally took the child Mahtob out of a country.  I am certainly curious as
to how her escapade is listed in she on a criminal list as a
child kidnapper in Iran?  Seems kind of odd to me or am I missing something


Subject: Betty Mahmoody
Date: 9 March 2005
From: somebody@somewhere (name withheld upon request)
To: the editor

Here's my take on whether or not what she wrote was true.  Just to
warn you, I'm a woman.  I'm not sure you'll take what I write as a
valid or worthy opinion.  Anyway, here's what I think.

The part where he deceived her and then used the backwards laws of his
home country to keep her prisoner seems true.  Of course she would
never want to leave her child there so she had to stay until she could
devise a way for them both to get out of there.  I believe that he
used the child against her as well.  Lots of controlling men use the
children as leverage to get what they want.

As far as him being "a lonely Dr. in Iran without his daughter."  I
suppose he should have thought of those consequences when he was
cooking up this legal kidnapping plan.  He should have known not to
cross and American woman.  Most of us don't put up with that kind of
stuff.  We are used to having rights.

When you or whoever it was wrote that if the role was reversed and he
ran around breaking laws and putting his daughter into harms way to
leave the U.S., you weren't being fair.  This is because, if he were
in the U.S. he wouldn't have to do all those things to get shared
custody of his daughter, he has as much rights as his wife on this
soil.  Now, when she was over there her human rights were being
violated and she had to do what she had to do for both her and her

I would have done the same thing.  Except I would never trust a man
enough to go to that country in the first place.  I listen to my
intuition not to some man telling me to "trust him."

This is not a matter of a culture being misrepresented, in my opinion.
It's about men dominating women for thousands of years.  It's a true
fact.  Even after all women have accomplished in the U.S. regarding
human rights, men still try and pull the male privilege stuff.  They
use verbal and physical abuse to control women.  This story highlights
just another case of this.

A woman from the U.S.A.