TAG | Iran
The BBC is going to be showing a three part documentary on the prophet Mohammed. Fair enough, but this little detail doesn’t bode too well for its objectivity:
The BBC has also made clear that its series is “in line with Islamic tradition” and “it does not depict any images of the face of Muhammad, or feature dramatic reconstructions of Muhammad’s life”.
On the other hand, there’s no pleasing some people:
…the Iranian culture minister, Mohammad Hosseini, who has not seen the programme, said in an interview on Monday that he was worried about the BBC film. Speaking to Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency, he said: “The BBC’s decision to make a documentary on the life of [the] prophet Muhammad seems dubious and if our suspicions are proved to be correct, we will certainly take serious action.”
Hosseini added: “What the enemy is trying to do in ruining the Muslims’ sanctity is definitely much more than causing us to react and unfortunately, some Islamic countries are not taking this issue seriously. One way to show objections is to express condemnation of the West over their despicable actions.”
Close allies of Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have been accused of using supernatural powers to further his policies amid an increasingly bitter power struggle between him and the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Several people said to be close to the president and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, have been arrested in recent days and charged with being “magicians” and invoking djinns (spirits). Ayandeh, an Iranian news website, described one of the arrested men, Abbas Ghaffari, as “a man with special skills in metaphysics and connections with the unknown worlds”.
Like many people I don’t know that much about what’s going on in Iran besides what I read. An Iranian American friend asked me what I thought would happen…which I think goes to show that we’re all in uncharted waters here. But one of the talking points which regularly emerges are the cleavages in Iranian society along the lines of class. An extreme caricature of a common perception might be that the religious population of South Tehran are typical Middle Easterners in their mores and attitudes, while the fashionable folk of North Tehran, with their nose jobs, would easily fit in to Tehrangeles.
Though I do not doubt that class is a major predictor of political affinity in Iran today, I do think that one should not overstate the differences across Iranian society in terms of social attitudes as a function of class. I say this because my own knowledge of “Iranians” comes through Iranian Americans, so when I first looked at Iran in the World Values Survey I was expecting a large minority of social liberals in a Western sense with anti-religious sentiments. As it happens I didn’t find it, rather, Iran is a moderately conservative Middle Eastern country, with significant, but not stark, differences by class when it comes to views on “hot button” issues.
Instead of making arguments, I’ll offer some numbers. Below are a list of issues from WVS wave 5 (taken in 2005) for Iran. You can see there are differences by class. You can also see that there is a great deal of overlap.