Al-Jazeera is not like CNN

January 17, 2008 § Leave a comment

Al-Jazeera is running a series called “Eye on Iran,” (Ayn ‘ala Iran) and despite its ominous intro credits, it focuses on social issues in Iranian society. It’s a great break from the types of Iran-related series run by CNN and FOX News focusing on the country as either a nuclear threat or terrorism supporter.

One of the worst series I’ve seen in a while was CNN’s “God’s Warriors.” I only watched the “Muslim Warriors” episode where Amanpour visits Iran and Egypt, but I remember they had this dramatized segment where Amanpour puts on a more modest veil when she goes to visit an Iranian cleric. Obviously some form of head covering is mandatory in Iran, but I believe that some (though not all) religious figures would find it disingenuous if a female were to adjust her appearance to appease someone if it is not in accordance with her religious beliefs. I feel that perhaps they made an assumption that this man would not talk to a female who wasn’t wearing a chador, and in the process portrayed him as unwavering and strict, when in actuality, he probably would’ve spoken with her wearing her regular veil.

The above clip is in Arabic, but the visual content can be interesting even for non-Arabic speakers. It details all types of Iranian cuisine — from shishlik to al-helawiyat. The first interviewee explains that Iran is famous for its “ta’aam al-muruq” which I am awkwardly translating as sauce-based foods, and that almost every Iranian dish is rice-based. (Update! Al-muruq means stew, as in a thick soup.) The clip ends with the al-Jazeera reporter in a culinary school in Tehran. Other clips from the series, all available on the al-Jazeera YouTube channel, focus on the disappearance of the Arabic language from the streets of Iran and Iranian cinema.

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