Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Iranian Embassy's Demands Are Refused And A "Suspicious" Package Shuts Down The National Library in Ottawa. . .

[UPDATE II, directly related: Razaq Mamoon, a fearless Afghan journalist who has been particularly outspoken in recent days about the Khomeinists' dirty campaign of subversion in Afghanistan, was attacked on a Kabul street yesterday. He had acid sprayed in his face. From his hospital bed, he says: ''Absolutely the Iranians are behind this attack because nobody dares to speak out in front of Iran."]

When federal Cabinet Minister James Moore intervened today to protest the cancelled screening of the film Iranium at the National Library and Archives in Ottawa, he said: "I am disappointed that Library & Archives Canada chose not to show the film tonight due to threats of violence. . . The Iranian Embassy will not dictate to the Government of Canada which films will or will not be shown in Canada."

But the screening ended up cancelled anyway after a "suspicious package" shut down the Library. Ottawa police and a haz-mat team showed up late this afternoon and the staff was sent home. In another version of events, most employees were already gone when suspicious letters were dropped off at the building, on Wellington Street, by a man who hurried away.

Altogether it's been a busy couple of days for my pal Fred Litwin, who runs Ottawa's Free-Thinking Film Society, the host of the event. Fred's been keeping me posted - I'm a director of the society (and no, I'm neither "libertarian" nor "conservative"). Only two months ago I joined some Iranian comrades at the National Library to give a talk at a Film Society screening of another film about Iranian despotism, The Stoning of Soraya M.

The Iranian embassy confirms it was involved in the initial "complaints" about the Iranium event. The Library confirms the embassy lodged a formal request to cancel the screening. A "suspicious" package or a letter that turned out to be a false alarm - that's something I can understand as a justification for cancelling the showing. But the National Library first cancelled tonight's screening yesterday after merely having received "complaints." Today it agreed not to back down to the protests, only after Moore's office intervened. But then the Library apparently backed down again after "letters" and "threats" and "protests," or something.

“I’m outraged that in the capital of Canada the Iranians have been able to shut down a movie,” Fred said today. “Bad enough in Tehran, but in Ottawa?”

Apparently so. Something very nasty is going on here, and I am more than a little curious to discover what's at the bottom of it, who was involved in these "protests," and what the hell the National Library was thinking by cancelling the screening in the first place. The National Library is not the Bijou. It's a venerable, national, public institution. Iranium is an important film, it's a new film, and Clare Lopez, a Middle East strategic policy and intelligence expert was flown in from Washington D.C. for tonight's screening. The National Library owes more than an apology and a lot more than full compensation for the Film Society's costs. It owes every Canadian a complete explanation and full accounting of what the hell just happened.

UPDATE: An authoritive account from the Ottawa Citizen here.



Blogger dmurrell said...

Terry, Could you give us a heads up when Iranium comes out on DVD? It would be a great film to buy and pass around.

I did not know you are a director with the Ottawa Free Thinkers Society. Good work there.

2:31 AM  
Blogger User1 said...

This is about more than Iranium. There is a power struggle now between Tehran's Prosecutor and the Minister of Culture. In response to Fars News Agencie's media-manufactured 'controversy' surrounding Vahid Rahbani's production of Hedda Gabler a new 'culture and media' department was created in the office of prosecutor. In the last year there have been many reassignments and relocations of people who work under the directives of Iran's Cultural Ministry. This is an example of Iran's heated internal culture wars (focused on maintaining tourism and economic development within the contraints of the hard-line revolutionary dictates) reaching into communities outside Iran. Culture is Global.

What Minister Moore needs to do is highlight the strengths and freedoms of the Iranian community in Canada. It's important to ALWAYS distinguish which Iranian you're talking about, isn't it? Otherwise you're not doing any good but continuing to re-inforce stereotypes and hatred. It should have been written that "A man left a suspicious package" not "An Iranian". If indeed you're not all about joining groups and activism but instead about first class journalist you would get that!

8:58 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

"It's important to ALWAYS distinguish which Iranian you're talking about, isn't it? Otherwise you're not doing any good but continuing to re-inforce stereotypes and hatred."

This is an extremely important point, User1. Thanks for making it. When people talk about the Iranian government - the Khomeinist regime - the term "the Iranians" tends to get used, even by people whose greatest concerns in this are for the Iranian people and who are filled with respect and admiration for Iranian culture and civilization.

It's important to be precise. It's obviously not simply "the Iranians" who are causing the difficulties in this story - it's the enemies of the Iranian people.

10:54 AM  

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