Ali Ettefagh at PostGlobal

Ali Ettefagh

Tehran, Iran

Dr. Ali Ettefagh serves as a director of Highmore Global Corporation, an investment company in emerging markets of Eastern Europe, CIS, and the Middle East. He is the co-author of several books on trade conflict, resolution of international trade disputes, conflicts in letters of credit, trade-related banking transactions, sovereign debt, arbitration and dispute resolutions and publications specific to the oil and gas, communication, aviation and finance sectors. Dr. Ettefagh is a member of the executive committee and the board of directors of The Development Foundation, an advisor to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and an advisor to a number of European companies. Dr. Ettefagh speaks Persian (Farsi), English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and Turkish. Close.

Ali Ettefagh

Tehran, Iran

Dr. Ali Ettefagh serves as a director of Highmore Global Corporation, an investment company in emerging markets of Eastern Europe, CIS, and the Middle East. more »

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Opening Old Wounds to Polarize

This opening of old wounds is a desperate attempt to polarize and rally around differences. It is simply a bad idea -- be it honoring Salman Rushdie or promoting the violent ideas of Osama bin Laden. Both are misguided efforts rooted in an aimless desire for more violence.

The British government usually prepares a list of candidates for the ancient practice of honorific titles and the prime minister recommends it to the Queen. It is commonly known that the preparation of such a list is essentially the product of intense lobbying and, where applicable, flows of funds to public relations agents who, in turn, know how to knock on doors in Whitehall and exploit political connections. In retrospect, what was the point of digging up an 18 year old and poorly reported event?

Mr. Rushdie was not a very well known writer. His “Satanic Verses” -- and I am probably one of the few in this part of the world who has actually read it -- is a very confusing text with a plot that was inspired by an act of terrorism, the blowing up of an Air India plane that took off from Heathrow. The book was essentially the writer’s reaction to a mindless terrorist act between various sects in India -- a land then known as the hotbed of factional extremism (and not necessarily the Muslim vs. non-Muslim variety) and now the propped-up darling of world as a presumed democratic, albeit economically poor, counterweight to China.

Equally few have actually read and understood the fatwa of Ayatollah Khomeini which was used as a cheap political lever to justify continued support of the so-called West for Saddam after the Iran-Iraq war. The fatwa, which is a religious opinion, clearly mentioned that “if someone has made such a grave blasphemous comment, then…” That was in an era when the Internet was not widely available and when newly organized media giants were trying to turn up their bullhorns. Nevertheless, the result was a publisher’s dream crafted around a needless nightmare: truckloads of the books were purchased and burned by narrow minds in protest. Extremists in Pakistan and in Pakistani ghettos in the UK were the message’s consumers.

An objective and cool-headed review of the facts will certainly conclude that the fatwa of Ayatollah Khomeini was in reply to skewed and angled questions asked by a specific group of Pakistanis now commonly identified as subscribers to mindless extremism. An unfortunate media frenzy ensued, acres of newsprint were used to angle for an anti-Iranian bias, and the matter turned into political hysteria. In the meanwhile, Mr. Rushdie evolved into the role of an expert.

This is a naked and classic case of spin and skewed intentions aired out in the media. Gremlins that thrive on division are trying to drag out a dead issue and warm it over, even after the Iranian government officially agreed to a closure and buried the hatchet with its British counterpart some ten years ago. Prince Charles traveled to Tehran and met with President Khatami, and the matter was frankly agreed. Iranian officials or religious scholars have not mentioned the issue for the last ten years, and all have simply stated that Ayatollah Khomeini had proffered his personal views.

I can only conclude that it is nothing more than a provocative, if not poorly judged and absurd, attempt to dump yet more anti-Iran bias into the tabloidesque news arena. It might well be a smoke screen for Tony Blair’s parting shot and his finale after a decade of political cross-dressing. After all, the mastermind of the Northern Ireland peace accords is reportedly converting to be a Catholic! Just imagine the brouhaha among Anglican scholars and the gossip about the “closet Catholic” that represented the Crown and the Church of England! This is probably a bigger story in England these days. Alas, Al Qaeda is busy stirring up more trouble in Iraq against British soldiers. In hindsight, was it really a good idea and was it necessary to pour more fuel on Pakistani religious extremism?

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