Utroligt men sandt

Ytringsfrihed gælder ikke, hvis man bedriver dårlig journalistik eller kører kampagne på vegne af oppositionen. Niels Lindvig om Hugo Chavez’ lukning af en privat tv-station.

Niels Lindvig synes det er fuldt berettiget, for stationen RCTV har propaganderet imod Chavez’ nationaliseringer og tidligere agiteret for et kup. Men det han burde have spurgt sig selv er: sker lukningen på et retstatsligt grundlag, som man kan forsvare – fx omfattende injurier eller opfordringer til terror? Lindvigs bergundelser lyder i hvert fald ikke, som om de ville holde i byretten – og der ER jo heller ikke nogen rettergang, bare et præsidentielt dekret. Men hvad, så længe Chavez er en fjende af USA, kan han næppe gøre noget galt. Lindvigs største bekymring: at Chavez vil bekræfte udlandets (ubegrundede, må vi formode) fjendebillede af Chavez, så han ikke vil kunne gennemføre de fantastiske reformer, han allerede er i gang med (fx at nationalisere bankerne, hvilket må rangere som en god idé i Lindvigs bog).

Skam dig, Lindvig! Dine indslag om Latinamerika har længe været fordrejede, men denne gang er du da fuldstændigt ude i hampen. Kan du ikke se, hvor meget du forråder dine egen principper?

Venstrepopulismen til debat

Bare en kort notits. Jeg har deltaget lidt med min ringe viden om Bolivia i en debat på Punditokraterne om Latinamerikansk politik. Det er nemlig rigtig ærgerligt, at USAs idiotiske fremfærd på kontinentet har skadet de nødvendige liberaliseringer i en sådan grad, at destruktive kræfter som Hugo Chavez og Evo Morales står som alternativer. Det bør de ikke få lov til!

Don’t Kiss That Woman!

There’s a poetic irony here somewhere: Iran’s hardline president Ahmadinejad under fire for kissing the hand of his old teacher. Actually, there was no skin contact, but it caused an uproar just the same. Danish news here, international here and a blog comment here.

More on the dress-code crackdown. Will the president now see how it’s like to be on the receiving side?

Now listen…

My friend in Tehran Syma Sayyah writes for Peyvand, an English-language site with news about Iran. Syma writes mainly about everyday things going on in Tehran, and her latest article is about a NGO helping hearing impaired children.

It hasn’t even been two weeks since I returned from Iran, and already it seems so far away. It’s nice to get this little view into what’s going on. It will also help you to remember, that in spite of all the war-threaths and madness, Iran is in a lot of ways just a normal country where people try to get on with their lives.

The Velvet Underground as airplane music

The times they are a-changing… as always. The Velvet Underground used to be the nastiest, sexiest and most scary music money could buy. But last week when I took the Air France Airbus home from Tehran, they played Femme Fatale on the speaker system, like it was just another piece by Vivaldi. Granted it’s among the velvets’ more accessible tracks, but still it wouldn’t exactly call Nico’s voice calming and reassuring, or the lyrics soothing and relaxing. As she sings, she really is a little tease…

What’s next? Merzbow in the elevator?

Where’s the sex?

Speaking of hejabs. Here’s a site that makes clear why hejabs are needed in the Middle East: traffic stopping, cardiac arrest inducing Lebanese Beauties. Danish girls often don’t have much hair to show, which is why they don’t cover it up – what’s the point anyway? Arab, Persian and Jewish girls on the other hand have some of the fullest heads of hair in the world, which is why they have to cover it up (not the Jewish girls, though). The effect of all that hair out in public space be disastrous.

You were probably wondering what happened to the sex promised in the subtitle to this blog. Well, here it is, a link to a site with no sex but lots of bathing suits. Just to show you a side of the Middle East, that you – unfortunately – don’t see every day.

Hejab crackdown

Last week when we were in Iran, there was a rumor going round, that the police were going to crack down on girls not wearing their hejab modestly enough (lots of Iranian girls wear it only to the middle of the top of their head, with lots of hair – sometimes carefully coiffed – visible). Apparently the rumors spoke the truth:

Some people I know have yet to see the packs of police ushering women into awaiting minibuses, but my regular stomping grounds are in the heart of bad-hejabland. “At least the police are polite here,” a taxi driver tells me. They have to be polite. They are being watched by neighbors with cameras and internet connections. “You should see them over at some of the other spots. They are really going after women with force and being rough.”

Sounds bad. On the other hand somebody told me that this was exactly the kind of attitude from the authorites which could shake the country up, since many people simply won’t stand for it any longer. Personally I don’t think we’ll see any rebellion anytime soon. So meanwhile: watch that hejab!

Update, 28th of april:
The news found way to Danish media as well.

Update, 29th og april:
Now they’re going for the men. No more David Beckham stylez for you! We saw a lot of guys with big gelled-up high-hair haircuts in Tehran. Thank god, they put a stop to that, they were really ridiculous!

Iran 3: Good Omens

On the other hand: When we actually got to the airport the dark clouds seemed to clear up.

It started badly enough: My companion was beginning to get worried about the lenght of her coat/manteu, which is supposed to go to below the knee (and be square and ugly and not show the female form in any way). Maybe this coat wouldn’t even be useful in Iran? This was especially unfortunate, since she had spent most of the day before colouring the coat black to fit the cheerful Iranian colours. The mood worsened as she saw herself spending her whole time in Iran in her only other coat, which we fittingly called the Beppo street-cleaner coat.

But then, fortune smiled upon us: When the nice girl at the counter asked for our tickets and where we were going, and we told her Tehran, she said: “That’s funny. That’s where I’m from! I’ve just been there and its great!” We immidiately started relaxing and she told us that the weather was good and that she had a Danish boyfriend who had been to Iran several times, loved the country and the food.

Then my companion gathered the courage to ask about the coat. The girl glanced at it and said “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. No problem.”

Thanks, check-in-counter-girl!

Iran 2: Bad Omens

Departure: We took the taxi to the station to get to the airport. The taxidriver was a big and burly man, most likely a from refugee from war-torn Ex-Jugoslavia, a Bosnian, Serb or Croat. He looked at our bags and asked us where we were going. When we said “Iran” he laughed out loud, surprised and in disbelief:

“Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, I would never go to a place like that!”

“You guys live too interesting lives!”, he said and laughed even more. And right then I was inclined to agree with him. I mean, this was a guy who probably felt at home in the minefields around Sarajevo or in some bombed out village near Vukovar. And yet to him going to Iran seemed like the most outrageous idea anyone could have.

Were we really that naive? Were we really insisting on living too interesting lives? We had already crossed the Andes mountains in a 8-person airplane and sailed the Amazon in a fragile motorboat, but perhaps going to Iran was even more outlandish?

Anyway, we would soon find out… There was no turning back.