Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad is the Islamic world's answer to the neo-conservatives. He unnecessarily and obsessively manufactures conflict. He behaves ruthlessly with political opponents. And he is ever ready to use religious and cultural difference as an instrument of hatred.
Eight centuries ago, Saladin couldn't imagine liberating Jerusalem without his Jewish doctor-cum-rabbi Maimonides. But for Ahmadinejad, it seems the only liberated Jerusalem worth having is a non-kosher one.
Iran is complex and fascinating. Iranians are more fanatical about football than religion. Literacy rates exceed 90 per cent and 70 per cent of the population is under 30. More women than men attend university.
Indeed, some have suggested that Iranian Muslims are culturally more European than their co-religionists from Bosnia. But neo-conservatives will use any excuse to play the pipes for America's next war.
A proven method of drumming up support for a war is to give your audience a simplistic view of the enemy, even if it means telling outright lies. Supporters of the war with Iraq told us the Iraqis were conspiring with al-Qaida and were hiding weapons of mass destruction. Subsequently, we all learned these alleged "facts" used to justify the invasion of Iraq were lies.
We were also told the Coalition of the Killing would establish order and restore resources to Iraqis. Yet in the five months since a Shiite Muslim shrine was destroyed, more than 25,000 Iraqis have died in sectarian violence.
As if one military debacle wasn't enough, neo-conservatives are telling lies to convince us of the need to fight another Middle Eastern country. This time, the tactic has been exposed. It started last month when Canada's National Post newspaper published an opinion piece from American writer Amir Taheri, claiming the Iranian Parliament (or Majilis) passed legislation regulating dress codes for religious minorities.
Taheri's story appeared with a 1935 photo of a Jewish businessman in Berlin with a yellow star of David sewn on to his overcoat. The message was simple - Iran is the next fascist power and must be stopped even if it means war.
The Taheri article was picked up by Murdoch newspapers, including the New York Post. In pursuit of an anti-Iran jihad, conservative leaders began issuing fatwas.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper denounced the proposed law. US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack described the measure as "despicable" and reminiscent of "Germany under Hitler".
Even Australia's John Howard was reported in the Australian Jewish News as comparing Iran to Nazi Germany. Then The Sunday Times reported Iran's only Jewish MP, Maurice Motamed, declaring that the story was a complete fabrication. Motamed's denial was unequivocal and was based on his eyewitness account of a debate over what turned out to be a Bill regulating aspects of Iran's fashion industry.
So how did such an obvious lie find its way into reports of major newspapers and speeches of prime ministers? It appears the paper was misled by an organisation devoted to prosecuting Nazi war criminals.
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