Europeans send Clear Messages
Refusing to shake hand and no bearing to look at alcohol drinks on the table by Iranian high rank delegation in Belgium again made a sock for the International political climate which is looking at Iran precisely to find out new signal for the future. But there are no good signs.
The repetitious story that the Islamic diplomats can no shake hands with women and also Islamic women can not shake hand with men absolutely is not understandable for the foreigners. It is even is not understandable for many people in the Iranian context. Many Moslems in and out of Iran shake hands and attend at the meetings that alcohol drink is served. However they might don’t drink it. But as an Iranian rule- and I think as an International rule- respecting the host principles and regulations is so important by the quests. In one the Islamic orders there is an advise that says “Respect the host unless don’t put yourself in a situation that bother you.” It means Iranian hardliner politician can not impose their regulation to the host. They can only forget any trip that put them in the similar situation.
But there are many stories about this doubtful Islamic rule that forbid the Moslems for shaking hands with women and women with men and also attending in meetings which alcohol drinks is served. After collapsing the Soviet Union the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini sent a message to Mikhail Gorbachev, not to choose capitalism for the future of their society and many other advises. Apart from the message, there was a woman at the Iranian delegation which went to Moscow and visited the President, the most powerful man in the east. Ms. Dabbagh a fundamental Islamist refused to shake hand with President publicly and shocked everybody. The ambassador and the other diplomatic members understood that what happened so for the end of the meeting asked her to redress what has happened. So when the delegation was leaving, she covered her hand with her Islamic Chador to shake hand with president. Now this story is like a joke between youth.
A few years later when president Khatami went to Germany, in a formal introducing to the cabinet by the President of Germany, there was a woman at the line which Khatami was shaking hand with them one by one,
“When Khatami reached to the woman who was a minister from the Green party, suddenly he put his palms on each other and curved like an Indian symbol for respecting people. The minister was shocked. Everybody was socked.” the president’s interpreter said to me when I was in Berlin. “It was a awful evening. Nothing and nobody could explain why Khatami did that.” He added.
When I said that it has mentioned in the protocols he answered that we can not impose our regulations to the hosts anywhere in the world. He was true. Because when somebody from abroad comes to Iran, they respect the Iranian governmental limitations and so the women use scarf and a Iranian cover in public.
Khatami had a similar problem when he went too Spain at 2002 too. The press criticized the king of Spain strongly and asked him why he has allowed to Khatami to oppose the Iranian anti-human being regulation for dinner. “We are happy that Khatami didn’t ask the king to attend at the dinner party with pajamas because he would accepted it.” El Mundo columnist said. Many people in Spain asked the government to cancel the meeting with president Khatami. “Perhaps the Iranian can bear the sexual apartheid by we are not obliged to obey it in our country.” Said El Mundo columnist. “We don’t want oil and also any discrimination.” He also said to Khatami that when invite to Spain you could accept or not. But when you accept, there are wine and women here. All the Khatami’s trip was effected by wine, women and shake hands.
Iranian diplomats know how much is the expenses of these kind of behaviours. Some of them shake hands at their offices when there is no other Iranian or camera. But in public they try to ignore it. They attend in many meetings that normally alcohol drinks is serves. However at some levels when many cameras are focusing on the Islamic officials they have problem to ignore it. They have to loose the meetings of participate and ignore. They ignore most of the time.
A few months ago one of the high rank diplomats of the Foreign Ministry visited some of the high rank cleric authorities to describe them how this manner make a black face of the Islamic regime in the world today. Informally they have approved that the Iranian can shake hand with women when there is a possibility that the respect of the regime destroy. It could be a governmental order. But as the fundamentalist Islamists increase their influence in the power, it is so optimistic to expect any new changes. The conservatives insist in their self-made regulations. However 25 years after revolution everybody knows that it doesn’t work.
Consider that, the usage of the alcohol drink in Iran is so popular however is it illegal. Mr.Ghalibaf, the former police commander in Iran, announced for many times that they have banned millions of liters of alcohol drink which was smuggled to Iran. At that time I wrote a comment and mentioned that as you can not ban all the smuggled so it means the amount of smuggled alcohol drink is more than millions of liters. It is a big market. When something has a big market it means people go toward it. However the Islamic regime pays no attention to it. Many of youth drink in their gathering however in secret and in private places.
“We can not even explain the philosophy of these limitations.” One the Iranian diplomats says. “Because, the reason that the men and women are forbidden to shake hands is to avoid any sexual interest of men or women. As some Islamists believe.” He added. “But if we tell anybody this reason, we make a bigger problem. The people ask us how your sexual feelings arouse by shaking hands or how you fall into trouble by looking at alcohol glass.”
By selecting the new hardliner president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, It seems that the European countries united themselves to not to regard the Iranian style of diplomacy.
I think what is done by the Belgian officials is not something only about the shake hands or importance of bottles of wines on the tables. They are sending a message to new government that their patience has finished. As the Americans has send a similar messages during the last two weeks. In the world today there are some differences with governments which representative the society and respect the world and governments which there are many doubt about their legitimacy and representation. Does the Diplomacy of alcohol express the directions of European countries and is it tangible enough for the Iranian authorities or not?
Some related links:
· Iranians in Belgian alcohol row Thursday, 30 June, 2005
· Belgian refuses to give up wine for IranBRUSSELS July 01, 2005
· Wine upsets Iranian trip
· Khatami's Whine List
By June Thomas, Posted Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2002, at 3:01 PM PT
· "Khatami Feared Eggs More Than Wine" Reuters, March 29
· No wine, no dinner, Iran told telegraph, 2002, By Isambard Wilkinson, Madrid
· A Considerable aerticle about Iran on:
Iran’s President-Elect Incites Islamic Revolutionthe Trumpet.com, By Brad Macdonald