Satirizing the Mullahs' paranoia

The Globe and Mail

Writing in Monday's issue of the on-line journal Slate, Christopher Hitchens, scourge of religion generally and Islam in particular, trains his gimlet eye on the paranoid fantasies ("antics" is too mild a word given Iranian outcomes) of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and his cohort. In Persian Paranoia, Hitchens brings his sui generis brand of scorn to the long-standing tendency of Iranians/Persians to blame not just the Great Satan of the US, and not just the Little Satan that is Israel, but the greatest villain of all, the dastardly Brits.

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Now it's true that Britain often treated Persia as a counter in a game of Diplomacy - as true as that the United States armed and backed Saddam Hussein's Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War. But a great many Iranians are themselves aware of the fantasy world of conspiracy theories inhabited by the mullahs, so much so that a satirical novel on the subject is one of Iran's best-loved books.



Published in 1973, but banned by anxious Khomeini-ites since the 1979 revolution, My Uncle Napoleon, by Iraj Pezeshkzad, a novel about a man who subscribes entriely to the British-plot theory of history, is less funny when you consider that, as Hitchens reports, at least one member of the Guardian Council has stated publicly that the London bombings of July 7, 2005 were a British plot to discredit Islam.

Don't know about you, but I'm ordering this book straightaway.

mlevin@globeandmail.ca

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