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BBC's documentary: Iran, the most understood country, by Rageh Omaar
February 19, 2007 7:15 PM   Subscribe

Watch BBC's documentary: Iran, the least understood country (Google video | Torrent) Rageh Omaar discovers that Iran is a country that bans women from riding motorcycles but where 60 per cent of the student population is female. There are stories of taxi drivers, wrestlers, business women, people working with drug addicts and the country's leading pop star and his manager - the 'Simon Cowell' of Iran. Read his article in the Sunday Times.
posted by hoder (30 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oops. I meant the 'least understood.' Damn. I can't change it now. Can someone please fix it?
posted by hoder at 7:17 PM on February 19, 2007


Annoyingly contrived shot at 4:16 (they show him going into the building, from the outside. Obviously his camera man went in first)

It's not surprising the Iranians would want this kind of video done at this time, a lot of neo-cons are probably running spouting the idea that Iran is full of poor, oppressed people. In fact, the Iran seems to be doing really well, compared to other countries in the region.
posted by delmoi at 7:25 PM on February 19, 2007


delmoi, Iran is moderately developed. It has been a type of democracy for quite some time and that at least makes the leaders responsive to the greater population. Unlike Iraq and Lebanon, it hasn't been subject to a lot of internal strife. Unlike Syria, it has a very large population and base of natural resources which allows it to stand more on its own.

Iran is comparable to Turkey in many ways (and Turkey is a likely candidate for full EU membership.) Both have approximately $9000 USD per capita income and both have populations 70 million and GDPs of $600 billion USD.
posted by bhouston at 7:31 PM on February 19, 2007


Thanks for posting this, hoder - I probably can't watch it until tomorrow, but it looks great.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:42 PM on February 19, 2007


Actually, Gibberonia is the world's least understood country.
posted by klangklangston at 7:48 PM on February 19, 2007


Also, BBC History of Islam In Europe.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:52 PM on February 19, 2007


bhouston, Iran's per capita income may be high, but that doesn't mean it's people aren't poor. 40% under the poverty line, rampant inflation, high unemployment, major drug addiction problems spurring rates of HIV infection, and that's more or less what I can think of off the top of my head as regards things that are wrong with Iran right now, not including a government that has even fooled mefites into thinking it is a democracy, but which is absolutely nothing of the sort considering that only candidates approved by the islamic council can run for office.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 7:55 PM on February 19, 2007


in a similar spirit
posted by spacediver at 8:05 PM on February 19, 2007


I highly suggest that each and every one of you to read In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs by Christopher de Bellaigue. It's a fantastic read.
posted by NoMich at 8:10 PM on February 19, 2007


Oops. I meant the 'least understood.'

Or 'most misunderestimated'?
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:10 PM on February 19, 2007


Actually, Gibberonia is the world's least understood country.

No matter that it is the world's least understood country - the important thing is that the most powerful man on earth can speak its language, fluently.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:14 PM on February 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


the 'Simon Cowell' of Iran

MORE COWELL

*ducks*
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:18 PM on February 19, 2007


i thought the video was rather superficial - the premise was that Iran is a backwards place and then it set out to prove that everyday life was pretty normal for people. After 20 minutes, you get the idea. I would have prefered for them to interview people who had less than glowing things to say about such a backward, repressive system of government as a religious dictatorship.

That said, if push came to shove and America invaded Iran, I would cross fingers for Iran for the win. They might be a deluded, superstitious and backward regime, but at least they aren't invading other countries and killing half a million people for their convictions.
posted by dydecker at 9:19 PM on February 19, 2007


Iran, the least understood country

Damn. I had my money on Turkmenistan.
posted by The God Complex at 9:24 PM on February 19, 2007


After 20 minutes, you get the idea.

The second half of the video addresses women in Iran and media censorship, as well as government organized events and "protests." It is well worth watching the whole thing. The takeaway is definitely not that everything is fine in Iran.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:51 PM on February 19, 2007


Actually, Gibberonia is the world's least understood country.

They make damned good scrambled eggs, though.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:21 PM on February 19, 2007


I would have prefered for them to interview people who had less than glowing things to say about such a backward, repressive system of government as a religious dictatorship.

Iran isn't a religious dictatorship. It's an illiberal democracy.
posted by j-urb at 10:26 PM on February 19, 2007


Work like this needs wide publication, to counter the image of Iran as "just another bunch of brown people on camels" that pervades too much US thought these days. It's an image that's all too easy to bend to the will of those who'd love to bomb and/or invade.

I imagine that the shots of ski bunnies in the snowy mountains are particularly jarring to this demographic.
posted by rokusan at 10:28 PM on February 19, 2007


not including a government that has even fooled mefites into thinking it is a democracy, but which is absolutely nothing of the sort considering that only candidates approved by the islamic council can run for office.

As opposed to the United States where corporate money and a cabal of looney Democracts and x-tian Republicans decide who can effectively run for office. Who's fooling whom BIAB?
posted by three blind mice at 10:34 PM on February 19, 2007


US 'Iran attack plans' revealed: US contingency plans for air strikes on Iran extend beyond nuclear sites and include most of the country's military infrastructure, the BBC has learned.
posted by homunculus at 11:44 PM on February 19, 2007


Tell the Truth, Nigga
posted by pwedza at 12:05 AM on February 20, 2007


It's really jarring to go from the "Down with USA!" demonstration into the photojournalist's apartment with a Rosie the Riveter poster.

It's always strange to me which parts of American culture have traveled abroad.

Anyhow, I've wanted to know more about Iran after reading Reading Lolita in Tehran (oh yeah, and current events. Those too. But really, I pay more attention to books than newspapers) and I really enjoyed the video for the views of the city and the interviews with Iranians. Too bad the reporter was insufferable.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:15 AM on February 20, 2007


From pwedza's link:

They say the rebels in Iraq still fight for Saddam
But that’s bullshit, I’ll show you why it’s totally wrong
Cuz if another country invaded the hood tonight
It’d be warfare through Harlem, and Washington Heights
I wouldn’t be fightin’ for Bush or White America’s dream
I’d be fightin’ for my people’s survival and self-esteem
I wouldn’t fight for racist churches from the south, my nigga
I’d be fightin’ to keep the occupation out, my nigga
You ever clock someone who talk shit, or look at you wrong?
Imagine if they shot at you, and was rapin’ your moms
And of course Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons
We sold him that shit, after Ronald Reagan’s election
Mercenary contractors fightin’ a new era
Corporate military bankin’ off the war on terror
They controllin’ the ghetto, with the failed attack
Tryna distract the fact that they engineerin’ the crack
So I’m strapped like Lee Malvo holdin’ a sniper rifle
These bullets’ll touch your kids, and I don’t mean like Michael
Your body be sent to the morgue, stripped down and recycled
I fire on house niggaz that support you and like you
Cuz innocent people get murdered in the struggle daily
And poor people never get shit and struggle daily
This ain’t no alien conspiracy theory, this shit is real
Written on the dollar underneath the Masonic seal
posted by Flashman at 2:17 AM on February 20, 2007


Fixed that for you grapefruitmoon
posted by adamvasco at 6:18 AM on February 20, 2007


Just finished watching and thought Omaar did well at his stated purpose of showing Iran as more complex, its people diverse and human and like you and me.
Found the bits with the men's gym and the later follow up interview with the big lad from there particularly good. The estimate for drug addicts seemed insane; users maybe if they were including hash, but who knows?
Anyway, well worth it; thanks.
posted by Abiezer at 6:59 AM on February 20, 2007


"Iran isn't a religious dictatorship. It's an illiberal democracy."

It's both!
posted by klangklangston at 7:01 AM on February 20, 2007


Lipstick Jihad is a pretty enjoyable book on Iran as well, covering more recent events. Persian Girls is a memoir covering the time under the Shah. There have been a whole bunch of books on Iran written by expats and foreigners recently.
posted by chunking express at 7:32 AM on February 20, 2007


My mom went to Iran about 4 1/2 years ago-just when the war in Iraq started. She was fascinated by the place. She had quite a bit of freedom to walk around and see things, but had to wear long sleeves and long pants and a scarf the whole time, of course. She found that the Iranians are much more united than a place like Iraq-however opressed they may be. Even though there are Zooastrians (spelling?) and Muslims mixed together, they have a very strong sense of identity and national pride. A fascinating history. It was beautiful but full of contradictions.

To attack them would be CRAZY, absolute lunacy. ( Of course, so was attacking Iraq. But Iran is much better put together than Iraq was.)

"The J curve" is a great book about why nations fall and how they do it...and talks a lot about Iran (N Korea, China, Iraq, etc) and how the US's policy of isolating and freezing access to countries doesn't work-it does exactly what the dictators want...shut down people's access to outside information. How a place like Iran would be better "openend up" by showing the people inside what life is like outside...openign it up slowly to globalization, freer economy, etc. A great book.
posted by aacheson at 8:45 AM on February 20, 2007


Iranians are fed up with the high price of tomatoes and their provocative president. But it would be dangerous for Bush and the West to overlook their national pride.
posted by homunculus at 9:42 PM on February 20, 2007


How a place like Iran would be better "openend up" by showing the people inside what life is like outside...openign it up slowly to globalization, freer economy, etc.

I was in Iran at the time of Dubya's first, um, election victory. Actually, it was while the whole Florida recount thing was dragging on. The Iranians were showing a very keen interest. They have quite a bit of access to foreign media, due to illegal but ubiquitous TV satellite dishes, and they actually wanted Bush to win, based on his claim that he would make America mind its own business a bit more & stop interfering so much abroad. More than anything, everybody I spoke to wanted to move more towards the west, and - most importantly - to thaw relations with the US.

I had left Iran by the time, but when Dubya stood up & made (I think) his opening Presidential speech about the so-called "axis of evil", I thought of the earnest hopes of all those remarkably intelligent & civilised Iranians, and I literally wept for them & their dashed hopes, and felt what must have been, for them, the most outrageous and ignorant of injustices. Talk about overlooking their national pride! It's more like deliberately pretending not to notice the wishes of your potential best friend.

On behalf of the progressive Iranian people, I say fuck that retarded monkey that the Americans miselected.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:13 PM on February 20, 2007


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