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Iran

New year, new repression

Wednesday, 2 January, 2019

The old year was ebbing towards its end when Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Iran, took to Twitter to wish people “from all races, religions and ethnicities — a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.” This is the height of cynicism, given that Zarif represents a regime that supports terrorism, pushes gays off buildings, forces women to wear mediaeval garb and refuses to allow the people of Iran free access to the internet.

Just as vile as the regime in Tehran is the regime in Hanoi, which has imposed a draconian new law requiring internet companies in Vietnam to remove content the communist authorities regard as “toxic” and compels them to hand over user data if asked to do so. The law also bans internet users from spreading information deemed to be “anti-state or anti-government,” as well as prohibiting use the internet to “distort history” and “post false information that could cause confusion and damage to socio-economic activities.” The law came into force a week after Vietnam’s Association of Journalists announced a new code of conduct on the use of social media, forbidding its members to post news and photos that “run counter to” the state.”


Woman of the Year 2018

Friday, 28 December, 2018

No, the Rainy Day award is not going to Camille Paglia, the essayist, author, and professor of humanities at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she has taught since 1984. She would be a worthy winner, however. “I am an equity feminist,” says Paglia. “I demand equal opportunity for women through the removal of all barriers to their advance in the professional and political realms. However, I oppose special protections for women as inherently paternalistic and regressive.”

It was Paglia who said that a society that respects neither religion nor art cannot be called a civilization, and a prime example of a society that cannot be called a civilization is Iran. The 1979 revolution that led to the establishment of an Islamic republic suffocated artistic expression in Iran, and the mullahs have used Islam to spread terror abroad and enforce totalitarianism at home. As a result, the hijab has become compulsory and Iranian women are required to wear loose-fitting clothing and a headscarf in public.

Yasaman Aryani opposes this perversion but she’s paid a high price for her defiance. Still, she’s unbowed and that’s why she’s our Woman of the Year.


Pot luck at the Iranian souk in Abu Dhabi

Tuesday, 5 January, 2016 0 Comments

The coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) stretches for more than 650 km along the southern shore of the Persian Gulf. It’s a tough neighbourhood, as current headlines prove, but despite their Sunni/Shi’a differences, the UAE and Iran have a working relationship because of their economic ties across the Strait of Hormuz.

One can see this cross-border trade in action in the “Iranian souk” at Mina Port in Abu Dhabi. Here, the bargain hunter will find carpets (frequently from Pakistan), pottery, plastic stuff (mostly from China) and kitchen utensils, especially pots. Some of these could hold a sheep, comfortably, and they evoke visions of meals for families where “extended” takes on a completely new meaning. Two rules: Shoppers are expected to haggle before buying and women should not visit on their own.

The Iranian souk in Abu Dhabi


The silence of the imams

Tuesday, 10 September, 2013 1 Comment

Students of contemporary barbarism should take note of what happened to customers at the Village restaurant in Mogadishu on Saturday. Here’s the BBC report: “The Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabab has said it bombed a popular restaurant in the capital Mogadishu, killing 15 people… Run by Somali businessman Ahmed Jama, who returned to the country from the UK in 2008, it was targeted by two suicide bombers last September in attacks that killed 14 people.”

As word of this appalling crime seeped out, Pope Francis was holding a “Syria peace vigil” in Rome attended by 100,000 people. “May the noise of weapons cease!” he said. “War always marks the failure of peace — it is always a defeat for humanity.” He didn’t mention the murdered Mogadishu diners directly, but he cannot be faulted for this because no imam did, either. These authority figures in the Islamic world are usually vociferous when it comes to condemning the decadence and crimes of the “West”, but they tend to be very shy about the horrific crimes being committed in the name of their own faith. And the body count from those faith killings is shocking.

In Iraq, some 4,000 people have been killed by rival Sunni and Shi’a gangs so far this year. The pot of sectarian hatred is being stirred by the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is also heavily involved in the savage Syrian civil war. It has invested heavily in the notion of an embattled Alawite regime led by Assad battling a radicalized Sunni opposition of al-Qaida terrorists because this legitimizes Teheran’s interference. Meanwhile, Turkey’s government is adding fuel to the sectarian fire, as rumors circulate that Ankara is pressing for a Sunni majority Syrian government if Assad falls. One does not need a vivid imagination to picture the butchery that would follow, should this ever be the case.

Forgotten in this gruesomeness is that fact that the Taliban have killed more than 1,300 men, women and children so far this year with car bombs, improvised explosive devices and suicide bombers in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. As if that wasn’t enough, Muslims are also murdering Muslims in Pakistan, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt and the silence of the imams and mullahs regarding this carnage is deafening. Finally, there’s Yemen: “Kuwaitis have called for stringent action against a family in Yemen after their eight-year-old daughter died of internal injuries on the first night of her arranged marriage to a man more than five times her age.”

A mosque


Argo again

Monday, 11 February, 2013 0 Comments

The producers of Argo, George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Ben Affleck, had a fine time in London last night when their drama about the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979 stole the show and won the Best Film and Best Director gongs at the BAFTA Awards event. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) ceremony is the final major film occasion before this year’s Oscars, which will be handed out on 24 February in Hollywood, in a show hosted by Seth MacFarlane. The Big Mo is certainly with Affleck now. Go Argo!

The producers of Argo


The Iran Tribunal and the crimes of Khomeini

Friday, 8 February, 2013 0 Comments

While watching Argo, I was reminded that the enduring image of the Iranian nightmare was snapped 34 years ago this month: the return of Ayatollah Khomeini to Tehran from France. Although 10 February is celebrated as Revolution Day in Iran, the arrival of Khomeini on 1 February 1979 remains the key moment. On the Air France flight to Tehran, he was asked by ABC News reporter Peter Jennings: “What do you feel in returning to Iran?” Khomeini answered: Hichi (“Nothing”). This one-word statement was considered indicative of his mystical nature by both Islamic fanatics in Iran and useful idiots in the West. By the way, last year’s commemoration of Khomeini’s homecoming was a bit weird as it involved a giant cut-out figure of the old psychopath.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

Meanwhile, the report of the Iran Tribunal has been released. It found that during the 1980s the Islamic Republic was guilty of the murder of between 15,000 and 20,000 political prisoners. Quote: “The religious fervour of these crimes makes them even more shocking: for instance, a woman’s rape was frequently the last act that preceded her execution in Iran, as under the ‘Sharia’ law guidelines, the execution of a virgin female is non-permissible.” Iran is in the hands of evil and medieval people. How long more?


Alcoholic beverages are now available

Thursday, 7 February, 2013 2 Comments

Quote: “Ladies and gentlemen, it is our pleasure to announce that alcoholic beverages are now available, as we have cleared Iranian airspace.” Argo, Scene 318 from the screenplay (PDF) by Chris Terrio, based on the May 2007 Wired magazine article The Great Escape by Joshuah Bearman, and chapter nine of The Master of Disguise by Antonio Mendez.

Sure, there’s a lot of alcoholic beverage knocked back in Argo, but the booze acts as an expression of civilization and an antidote to the emerging barbarism of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ben Affleck stars in and directs a film that’s funny, clever, taut and a necessary reminder of the threat that faces us. Argo deserves the Best Film Oscar, and the “Best Supporting Actor” award should go to Alan Arkin as Lester Siegel, a producer so cynical that the knows the price and the value of everyone in Hollywood.


Geography vs. Globalism

Wednesday, 3 October, 2012

In the war of ideas, the recent thinking in some quarters has been that globalism will defeat geography. Not so says Robert D. Kaplan. Best known to many as as the long-standing foreign correspondent for The Atlantic, he is also the Chief Geopolitical Analyst for the the private global intelligence firm Stratfor. He makes his […]

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Iranian head hunters at the Frankfurt Book Fair

Wednesday, 19 September, 2012

On Monday we learned that Iran had increased the bounty on the head of the British author Salman Rushdie to $3.3 million. When the perverse Ayatollah Khomeini called for the murder of Rushdie in 1989, the Frankfurt Book Fair, to its credit, excluded Iran for three years from its precincts, but now this outlier of […]

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