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A Sorry Spectacle

A Sorry Spectacle

The juxtaposition of the two images of former Vice-President Mohammad Ali Abtahi – one before his arrest and the other at his hearing- show the absurdity of the trials taking place in Iran.  Abtahi, best known as the “blogging mullah,” is the ebullient cleric interviewed in the Daily Show. In the interview, as Jason Jones says, Abtahi breaks every conceivable stereotype of a cleric we in the west might have.  Watching the same cleric, now looking panic-stricken and withdrawn, make statements about staging a “Velvet Revolution” is heartbreaking. Though as Laura Secor points out in this New Yorker article, the Iran Show, some “Iranians are turning the show trials into a kind of black comedy, by mocking the predictability of their ugliness.”  The most prominent among them is Ebrahim Nabavi, an exiled Iranian satirist.  After Abtahi’s arrest, rightly predicting that Abtahi will be forced to make false confession, Nebavi posted a YouTube video imagining what Abtahi’s confession might look like:

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For all the people who do not understand Farsi, here is a concise summary provided by Laura Secor:

Perhaps no one has done more to undermine the effect of forced confessions than Ebrahim Nabavi, an exiled Iranian satirist who has released a parody confession video. Dressed in striped pajamas and wearing bandages, he confesses to meeting with a C.I.A. agent, importing green velvet, and having affairs with Carla Bruni and Angelina Jolie (“She had a very ugly and terrible husband”). He apologizes to the Supreme Leader and to the paramilitaries who “kindly” beat him.

Here is a full English translation of the satire.

Another group highlighting the ridiculousness of the Iranian government is the “Watch Me Confess!” project. They have set up a blog mocking the Iranian government for forcing people to confess lies on national TV.

Hopefully, some one in the Iranian government will realize that these ignominious trials need to stop.

Image taken from the Christian Science Monitor.



Sahar Zubairy

Sahar Zubairy recently graduated from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas- Austin with Masters in Global Policy Studies. She graduated from Texas A&M University with Phi Beta Kappa honors in May 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. In Summer 2008, she was the Southwest Asia/Gulf Intern at the Henry L. Stimson Center, where she researched Iran and the Persian Gulf. She was also a member of a research team that helped develop a website investigating the possible effects of closure of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf by Iran.

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