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March 15, 2006



"Ahvaz", not "Ahfaz" -- unless you really want to p*ss off the Persians by calling it Al-Ahwaz . . .

the aardvark

My bad - Ahvaz it is, indeed. Silly keyboard.

Philip Grant

There are a few points worth making here. Firstly, the obvious one that the US, Iran and many Arab regimes, whatever their many differences, have in common the fact that they have all blamed al-Jazeera for troubles they have faced at one point or another. Secondly, that when the Iranian government expelled al-Jazeera from Iran last spring after rioting in Ahvaz, there were articles in the more "right-wing" press such as Keyhan labelling al-Jazeera as a Zionist organisation, and adducing as evidence the fact that it was widely known as such in the Arab world. Thirdly, the al-Jazeera affair reinforces the impression one has that the one thing sure to unite all Iranians, however much they hate their government, is the idea that foreign forces are trying to destabilise the country: I remember talking about the al-Jazeera/Zionist theory with a highly articulate, well-informed and reform-minded student in Tehran, who dismissed the idea as more propaganda on behalf of the Arabs in their quarrel with Israelis, something which had nothing to do with Iran. He then explained how in fact al-Jazeera was controlled by Lebanese Hizbullah, that this group was financed by Iran and that therefore the foreign forces plotting against the Iranian people were actually in league with Iran's government. Fourthly, it will be interesting to see how al-Jazeera's new interest in Iranian affairs change perceptions of Iran in the Arab world; one of the most astonishing things I have noticed in my time in Iran and in the Arab world is the extent of the ignorance Iranians have about Arabs and vice versa, probably greater than ignorance in Europe or America about either Arabs or Iranians.


Philip - really interesting. When were you in Tehran - before or after the Presidential election? Mohammed Khatami was just on al-Jazeera last week, which I found kind of noteworthy.

Dr Victorino de la Vega

The New York Times reports that the Dutch government has decided to upgrade the compulsory “cultural integration” exams prospective immigrants have to take before obtaining a visa to the country of Erasmus...in order to “filter away all unwanted religiously conservative individuals”

“A lesson, about the Netherlands' nude beaches, is followed by another: homosexuals have the same rights here as heterosexuals do, including the chance to marry.

Just to make sure everyone gets the message, two men are shown kissing in a meadow.

The scenes are brief parts of a two-hour-long film that the Dutch government has compiled to help potential immigrants, many of them from Islamic countries, meet the demands of a new entrance examination that went into effect on Wednesday

Or course citizen of certain countries with high numbers of “religious conservatives” such as Israel and the US are exempted from taking the exam…but the Dutch government wants us to believe this shouldn’t be interpreted as blatantly racist double-standard directed at Arabs and Mohammedans!

But there’s even worse that sheer racism at work here: ironically, by focusing its message on nude beaches, swingers clubs, hash bars…etc. the Dutch government is contributing to the distortion and debasement of Western culture in the eyes of its critics, thus reinforcing their prejudices.

Just like their Neocon friends in Washington and Tel-Aviv, the Muslim-bashers of Amsterdam and The Hague are useful idiots feeding the anti-Western narrative of Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri.

Instead of promoting humanistic and secular values by building schools and universities with modernist secular curricula in the Middle-East and South Asia, instead of telling prospective immigrants the world over that Europe is a beacon of humanism and democracy, we’re content with provoking Muslims gratuitously.

In Hitler’s Germany, Jehovah's Witnesses were forced to accept blood transfusion and force-fed ham so they could become “good Germans”.

In Guantanomo’s prisons, Arab and Muslim detainees were routinely forced to watch gay porn movies while listening to the Israeli national anthem

I guess this must have paved the way for the Dutch government’s new immigration law…

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