Imam, nizam, kaboom

The mood in Iran now seems to be one of alienation from the whole project of the Islamic Republic. I always said the regime would have been wiser to compromise very quickly after the disputed election, even to the extent of sacrificing Ahmadinejad, because a less fanatical leadership could have led a cobbled-together government into an Islamic future consistent with the previous 30 years.

Ahmadi-Nejad's wife, with glasses, with Vafa Sulaiman, wife of the Lebanese president

Ahmadi-Nejad's wife, with glasses, with Vafa Sulaiman, wife of the Lebanese president

There is now a mood of deep distaste with the whole enterprise. Mousavi keeps talking about policies “in the line of the Imam” and the future of “nizam” (Republic). But the population is fed up with clerical rule altogether: to hell with the lot of them. This is forcefully expressed as a desire for a Republic of Iran (no Islamic).

Mrs Ahmadinejad goes shopping in New York

American satire, however welcome, seems to consist largely in the belief that references to current mass media entertainment are very funny. Here, Mr and Mrs Ahmadinejad appear on a talk show. He is a speechless dummy, she a shopaholic chatterbox. I don’t understand any of the references.

The reality is that Mrs Rat is virtually invisible. She is the one in the photo wearing glasses, on the right, with the elegant wife of the Lebanese president (when they had one). Never is more than this seen of her. I do not know her name and nobody else seems to either. People like this consider that to take one’s wife out of her closet and expose her, even garbed in black, to the cameras of strangers is virtually pornographic. During the pre-election TV debates, Ahmadinejad clandestinely waggled a photograph of Mousavi’s wife from the podium. He need not have bothered, since Zahra Rahnavard routinely appeared alongside her husband, a shockingly radical break with Taliban morals.

Mr and Mrs Ahmadinejad, 2-Jun-09

Mr and Mrs Ahmadinejad, 2-Jun-09

However, Rat has allotted huge numbers of lucrative positions to members of his family, helpfully summarised in a chart here.

The bloody tide subsides

A multitude of observations suggest that the worldwide tide of radical Islamic fervour has been dying down for a year or two. Now it is reported from Egypt that

Sheikh Mohammed Tantawi was reportedly angered during a tour of a Cairo school when he saw a girl wearing a niqab, the full veil worn by some devout Muslim women which covers the entire body except for the eyes. Sheikh Tantawi, regarded by many as Egypt’s Imam and Sunni Islam’s foremost spiritual authority, asked the teenage girl to remove her veil saying: “The niqab is a tradition, it has no connection with religion.”

“May your head be always green, and your lips always laughing, so that lovers’ hearts rejoice in you. Who sees you and does not rejoice, may he remain crestfallen, wretched and always a wanderer!” Jalal al-din Rumi (1207-1273).

“May your head be always green, and your lips always laughing, so that lovers’ hearts rejoice in you. Who sees you and does not rejoice, may he remain crestfallen, wretched and always a wanderer!” Jalal al-din Rumi (1207-1273).

Now it is to be banned in Egyptian schools. Emboldened, Sunni clerics elsewhere may follow suit. But if the niqab bites the dust, the hijab lingers on. Does anyone know the difference between a niqab and a burka? (The burka has a fine mesh over the eyes and is still more concealing, if that is possible, than a niqab.) But

Sheikh Tantawi’s edict is likely to prove unpopular among fundamentalist Muslims. One popular Saudi cleric has already argued that the niqab is not conservative enough and has called on devout women to ensure they only reveal one eye in public.

God help us. Meanwhile,

Lebanon’s militant Islamic group Hizbollah has had its reputation for ideological purity tarnished by a growing scandal involving an alleged Bernie Madoff-style Ponzi scheme.

One might rejoice in the discomfiture of one’s enemies, if this did not imply some sort of acceptance of morality on their part. Alas, that would be going too far.

The Henna Commander

The Henna Commander

The UN lurches

After producing a report on the Gaza conflict of appalling partiality, the UN now

is to include the Holocaust in a new curriculum for schools attended by children in Gaza despite protests by the Palestinian territory’s Hamas rulers.

All the news that’s fit to ban

The life of a newspaper in contemporary Iran might be thought to resemble that of man, at least in a state of civil war as described by Hobbes,

solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.[1]

With journalists in prison, the regime wages ferocious and unceasing war against any accurate reporting whatsoever of news. Iranians are presumably supposed to lap up the bullshit of Keyhan only, on a daily basis. To this end, three more newspapers have been closed. One had hardly supposed that there were any that remained open.

Infirm Obama

Free Iran!

Free Iran!

I’m afraid that evidence is mounting as to the weakness of our new leader. He is reported to have faced considerable pressure from Brown and Sarkozy not to delay further the release of news about Iran’s second processing plant at Qom.

Details of the disagreement appeared to explain why Mr Brown and Mr Sarkozy, the French president, took a harder line on Iran than the American leader at the meeting. The Prime Minister said it was time “to draw a line in the sand” on Tehran’s nuclear programme while the Frenchman mocked Mr Obama for the naivety of his “dreams” of eliminating nuclear weapons.

Now, much worse, it is said that federal funding for the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center in Washington has been denied.

But just as the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center was ramping up to investigate abuses of protesters after this summer’s disputed presidential election, the group received word that – for the first time since it was formed – its federal funding request had been denied.

Where is my Mummy? - Lost in the tar shales of Friday group prayer

Where is my Mummy? - Lost in the tar shales of Friday group prayer

“If there is one time that I expected to get funding, this was it,’’ said Rene Redman, the group’s executive director, who had asked for $2.7 million in funding for the next two years. “I was surprised, because the world was watching human rights violations right there on television.’’

This is seen as a sign that the White House is inclined to be “less confrontational”.

Many see the sudden, unexplained cut-off of funding as a shift by the Obama administration away from high-profile democracy promotion in Iran, which had become a signature issue for President Bush.

A Muslim mayor for Rotterdam

It seems to me quite a constructive move, not to mention a democratic one, that Moroccan-born Ahmed Aboutaleb has been appointed (not elected) Mayor of Rotterdam. Pace Geert Wilders, this is not comparable at all to a Dutchman becoming mayor of Mecca. Unless of course Wilders thinks Holland should be compared to Saudi Arabia. After Theo van Gogh was murdered by an Islamic extremist,

Speaking at an Amsterdam mosque, Aboutaleb sternly told Dutch Muslims that if they did not subscribe to the Netherlands’ values of tolerance and openness, they ought to catch the first plane out.

The Iranian abattoir

It is now reckoned that the number of people killed by the regime since the end of the Iran-Iraq war has surpassed the number killed in that war.  In their passionate quest to chuck nuclear weapons around, the Iranians leadership might be thought better fitted to fur panties and clubs.  But their necrophilia rages unchecked.

Put down your gun

Put down your gun

When the supply of corpses, blood fountains and chain-slapping ceremonies dried up in 1988, they turned their attention to Communists, left-wingers, peaceful protesters, Kurds, Baha’is, journalists and even armed revolutionaries on their borders (most of the latter are now in Iraq). Many of these massacres and mass burials have gone unnoticed by the Western press.  Only now, on the crest of the Green Wave, has the extraordinary appetite for death come to public attention.

There are thus two mysteries in contemporary Iran.  First, there is the dynamic of ultra-ism, whereby everybody at the top of society strives to appear more extreme, more hardline than everybody else (the latter therefore designated as ‘moderate’ or ‘reformist’ ─ a considerable exaggeration).  This version of Islam seems to entail the necessity, in order to appear holier-than-thou, of my claiming ever blacker grades of ferocity and hatred.  Secondly, there is the passionate interest in death and dying, killing and being killed, martyrdom and sacrifice.  The commonsense view here seems to be right, that on any account this is morbidity verging on psychoticism.  One hunts in vain for a relevant category.  Religious mania is not like anything else.

Why is there this investment in imbalance? And the apocalyptic embrace of death and atrocity?

[1] Leviathan (1651) pt. 1, ch. 13