Cultures other than mine are the worst.  (Via)

[A YouTube’d video] allegedly shows former President Mohammed Khatami shaking hands with a female supporter on a recent trip to Italy.

Khatami says the video is a fake and claims never to have shaken hands with any woman, an act considered taboo by many conservative Muslims. A mid-level cleric, Khatami has formed a coalition with more conservative former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and former parliamentary speaker Mehdi Karrubi to attempt to stem the tide of Iran’s rightward drift. Though emboldened by the defeat of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hardliners in last December’s local council elections, reformers still worry they could be disqualified by Iran’s religious Guardian Council, which vets parliamentary candidates.

To Western eyes, Iran’s Handshakegate looks pretty silly—and it gets much sillier (video)—but with some clerics calling for Khatami to be defrocked, Iran’s struggling reformers certainly aren’t laughing. It doesn’t help, apparently, that Ahmadinejad himself is guilty of the horrible crime of touching a woman; this is about gutter politics, not bedrock principle.

Ugh.  Now, the bulk of the population of Tehran probably isn’t on board with this sort of thing.  What a shame that they are in the grips of this absurd dictatorship.


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