Iranian authorities seemingly unaware that The Daily Show is a comedy

Monday, November 23, 2009

The imprisonment of reformists or other so-called political dissidents in Iran almost always works the same way: someone is imprisoned and accused of being a spy, they are forced to confess to acts they did not do, this serves as a helpful bit of short-term propaganda for the government in constructing the narrative they wish to create, and eventually the prisoner is released and is able to tell the world what really happened. That was the case with Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari who talks of what happened while he was imprisoned here.

Besides the predictable bits about being subject to hardship and daily threats of execution, the authorities also apparently thought that The Daily Show where Mr. Bahari made an appearance was a serious show and not a comedy, and used it as "evidence" of him being a spy. The Daily Show's trip to Iran showed that regular Iranians have no problems with The Daily Show's humour, but the authorities there are clearly a few bricks short of a load in that area. Here's the video where Mr. Bahari made an appearance.

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The Daily Show is not to be blamed for what happened after the election though, as 1) before the election was held it looked like the result would be either an Ahmadinejad victory or a Mousavi victory somewhat similar to what happened with Khatami in the 1990s, and 2) repressive governments interested in creating their own version of reality will use nearly anything to do so, and so the Daily Show interview just happened to be an unfortunate casualty swept up in all of this.

On a related note, today the New York Times has an article on Ayatollah Montazeri, a nice recognition of a man that has never compromised his principles for power.


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