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Iran Uncovered!

Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, BBC Radio 4 is running a month's worth (?) of Iran-themed programmes under the rubric "Uncovering Iran," in an attempt to provide its listeners with a more balanced, full spectrum look at the country that just maybe maybe might be next up on our fight card. (North Korea?! Fahgeddaboutit! They've already got their nukes!)

There are the usual political and societal shows, but also culture-vulture glances at various aspects of Iran's 3,000 year history, including a podcast of "Darius the Great and the End of History" (I find Iranian claims that they and China have the oldest civilizations in Asia more than a little off-putting, though; okay, t'ain't no Sumerians 'round here no mo', but what about India?), two profiles of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (including one on the religious programme Sunday considering "How Ahmadinejad's strong belief in the return of the Madhi is shaping his government's policies;" gee, sounds like he's got more in common with Our Curious Leader than we've been led to believe...), a look at Iranian cookery, and a one-off called "From Tehran with Laughter," which "explores the rich vein of comedy both inside and outside Iran." Well, mostly outside Iran, for obvious reasons. This last bit was reasonably interesting: the host/correspondent, Omid Djalili, is a stand-up comedian and an actor (he was in Gladiator) and a Bahá'í (pronounced "buh-HI"), which he describes as an offshoot of Islam much the same way that Christianity is an offshoot of Judaism. I was disappointed that, during Djalili's claiming of Mulla Nasrudin as Persia's most renowned humorist/satirist, he neglected to mention that the humorous stories about him are a part of Sufi religious literature, not merely Twainian-type tales.

One kvetch, though: the three-part series of half hour programmes entitled "Iran: A Revolutionary State," hosted by Sir John Tusa (head of BBC's World Service) gives you the first part (aired on Sunday, 17 September) when you click on the "listen again" links for the first and second part (aired on Sunday, 24 September). As I enjoyed listening to the first part, I was annoyed when I couldn't hear the second. Bah.

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