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Monday, October 12, 2009

Iran Through The Eyes of Diego Buñuel

Picture from NGCAfrica

One of my favorite shows on TV is "Don't tell my mother I'm in..." on National Geographic Channel, hosted by Diego Buñuel, grandson of legendary French surrealist cinema filmmaker, Luis Buñuel. Diego travels to countries with bad reputations as potrayed by western news and countries, such as North Korea, Afghanistan, Colombia, Congo, and Gaza. He gets a behind the scenes view of those countries. Some of those countries do have and stands up to their bad reputation (such as North korea for example), but most are nothing like their bad reputation.
Last night I watched his latest episode on Iran, and it is really nothing what you may have heard or seen in the news. Iran is a country full of colours, nice warm people, tolerant, and very very democratic.

Not only do we see the country from Diego's point of view or his Islamic Iran guides, but half of the series Diego was guided through Iran by a Jewish Iranian. This is something I never knew, a Jew in Iran??

In fact, the 2nd largest population of Jewish people in the Middle East is in Iran, and they also have seats in the parliament both as representative of 25.000.000 Jews in Iran, and also as party members. Yes, Iran is a democratic country where everyone has equal rights no matter of their religion. It is the biggest democratic country in the Middle East.

Iran is also home to many temples, synagogues and churches. People in its society are given freedom to pray according to their faith, freedom to do anything as long as it is under the Islamic Law. And get this, the synagogues have speakers outside, and their chanting can be heard by everyone. This is something we just never thought possible in a country like Iran.

What is Islamic Law? The Islamic law is a law like any other laws. It doesn't force the people who live under the law to be Muslims, but to just governs their daily life to be halal/kosher to live in.
A Jewish store keeper told Diego about living under Islamic Law. He likes it, low crime he says. He is able to do everything he likes to do as long as it doesn't break the law. He can drink Vodka and get drunk as long as it is in his home and he doesn't bother the neighbours.

Almost of the end of the series, Diego talked to a Jewish parliament speaker about the conflict between Iran and Israel. The parliament speaker answered: "It is not the Jews that Iran is fighting against, but the tyranny of Israel towards Palestine and how it is becomming a bully to everyone in the region."

To find out more about the series, watch "Don't Tell My Mother I'm In..." every Tuesday nights on National Geographic Channel.


cipu said...

I always see the ad of this show but I never note what day do they broadcast it...
He is indeed brave enough to visit some dangerous places. Two thumbs up for him

Bhakti Dharma, Amsterdam, Holland said...

I was in Iran about 7 years ago during about 2 1/2 weeks on a holiday with my 2 neighbours. Holiday? Iran isn't exactly people's first thought for a holiday destination, not even among Muslims in other countries. Yet I have always been fascinated by this mysterious country full of history and wanted to go to famous Isfahan once, so when they asked me to join them I said yes.
As soon as we arrived I knew this is a fascinating country with wonderful, nice people. Everybody was helpful, curious in visitors like us and nice even if it was obvious that we are non Muslims. Some people even invited us to their homes, and it was out of hospitality, not because like in other countries they want to sell you something or want something from you.
I did see all the beautiful palaces, mosques and museums I planned to see, but what I will remember most are one of the nicest people on earth I ever met in a relaxed crime free country. In many places I walked alone by myself and was the only foreigner around, not one moment I felt being in danger or not welcome. Even at the mausoleum of Imam Khomeiny we went inside and were treated as (non Muslim) guests, people were in fact delighted that we were interested in their country.

If you are from another Muslim country you will feel a new atmosphere here, Iran being a mostly shiite Muslim nation, still believing in the new prophete to come, you will see his image everywhere in the stores and bazaars. Ladies including tourists must cover themselves, but on the other hand unlike in Saudi Arabia are free to drive cars, and can get the highest job positions. And it is completely safe for a lady to wander alone everywhere even at night.

So my advice is, if you can do visit the country, you will return with many happy memories and certainly will think of the Iranese as nice people.

Anonymous said...

Jews have been in Iran longer than in Europe. Iranian culture and religions greatly influenced Judaism. The whole idea of heaven/hell and angels comes to Christianity from Judaism from the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism. Manicheanism and Mazdism also influenced the West.

Ayumurti said...

he's definitely a hunk ;)