Slavs and Tatars, When Satire Conquered Iran
With an acerbic sense of humor and realist illustrations reminiscent of Daumier or Toulouse-Lautrec, the satirical magazine Molla Nasreddin (1906–1930) attacked the hypocrisy of the Muslim clergy, while arguing for Westernization, educational reform, and equal rights for women. It would become the most influential and perhaps first publication of its kind to be read across the Muslim world, from Morocco to India.
Haleh Esfandiari, In the Jaws of the Mullahs
Following the disputed reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad in 2009, the world looked on as tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets in protest, only to be repressed by force, arrested, or worse. Though there is far less coverage of Iran now—few foreign correspondents are allowed into the country—repression has continued and even intensified since these events, with widespread arrests, purges of university faculty, closure of publications, and a clampdown on political activity. Still, supporters of the Green Movement have not been entirely silenced, as Zahra’s Paradise, a powerful new graphic novel set in contemporary Iran, makes clear.
Image: Amir & Khalil
Asghar Farhadi’s film Nader and Simin: A Separation, is a fine account of Iran’s predicament; anyone interested in the mysteries of change and tradition—the difficulties faced by many people as they try and reconcile themselves to modern values and norms—will learn much from it. I saw it in Tehran this summer, and so movingly did it reflect what I was witnessing around me, I was surprised that the authorities had allowed it to be screened and its creator and leading actors to travel to Germany to be honored by the Berlin Film Festival. The film won the Golden Bear for best film, and its male and female casts were recognized collectively, too.