December 6, 2006

Is Iran a Myth?

We think the Holocaust is as much of a myth as Iran is, but, the Islamic Republic has decided to host a conference to investigate if the Jewish Holocaust is a myth. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has previously called the systematic killing of some six million Jews by the Nazis during the World War II, as a "myth" and "exaggerated". Explaining the motives for hosting the conference, the Deputy Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mohammadi said, "The president simply asked whether an event called the Holocaust has actually taken place. No rational response was ever given to Ahmadinejad's questions." He added, "[The conference seeks to] provide an opportunity for scholars to offer their opinions in freedom."

We are, of course, touched by the Rational Islamic Republic of Iran's commitment to free expression of opinions. Among the conference invitees, we are told, are Salman Rushdie, Rafiq Tagi and Samir Sadagatoglu, Taslima Nasreen, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Isioma Daniel, whose current whereabouts are unknown. The Iranian Foreign Ministry's Institute for Political and International Studies, which is hosting the conference, is known to have sought the help of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, to personally deliver its invitations to these fatwa fugitives.

In the same week that Iran announced the conference, it also pulled the plug on You Tube, the Kurdish language Wikipedia, IMDB.com, an online international movie database, and the New York Times website.

The clampdown was ordered by senior judiciary officials in the latest phase of a campaign that has seen high-speed broadband facilities banned in an attempt to impede "corrupting" foreign films and music. It is in line with a campaign by Iran's Islamist president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to purge the country of western cultural influences.
Reporters without Borders, an international media watchdog, lists Iran among the 13 worst enemies of Internet freedom. According to RSF,

Iran today boasts of filtering 10 million “immoral” websites. Pornographic sites, political sites and those dealing with religion are usually the ones most targeted. But since the summer of 2006, the censors have concentrated on online publications dealing with women’s rights. The authorities also recently decided to ban broadband connections.

Reliable sources have indicated to us that the same Iranian agency that is hosting the conference on the Holocaust myth [sic], is also planning to host another conference in the near future on the Internet myth!

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