By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
It seems like a ridiculous tempest in a teapot, Iran cancelled a dinner and breakfast meeting in Paris with President François Hollande at the Elysée Palace. The Iranian delegation demanded that all the food be “halal” and that it be wine and alcohol free. In short, the Islamic Republic demanded that the rules in place in Iran, be put in place in Paris at the meeting.
This is the classic method of how states like Iran and Saudi behave. At home they suppress people, force dress codes on women and ban items like alcohol. Abroad they expect that others adhere to the same standards they have set. They always demand “respect” for their culture a home, and they disrespect the culture of others abroad. It seems innocuous of course, why can’t people in the West forego wine for a meal. But the symbolism is greater. Everytime the Iranian Ayatollahs meet with female heads of state or female journalists, the women are always forced to comply with the Iranian dress codes. Iranians of course don’t comply with normative dress codes in the West.
Cultural respect must go both ways. But in the extreme Islamic countries that have based their laws on religious law, the concept is never to respect others abroad, just as they don’t respect minorities at home. It is a general phenomenon in the world, the more people demand “respect” for their culture, the less they respect others. The more people require “dignity”, the more they trample on the dignity of others. That is why, for instance, the same Pakistani mobs that burn and murder Christians, and ransack Christian owned businesses whenever they hear that Charlie Hebdo did something in France, are the same ones that, as they burn the Bibles and churches and Hindu temples, will demand of course that no one abroad be “Islamophobic.” The more they target all Christians and Hindus for the actions of one person in a Western country, the more they will demand, of course, that no one harm a Muslim for the actions of one Muslim. If ISIS beheads and massacres people, they will say “you can’t blame all Muslims for the actions of a few,” but of course, when Charlie Hebdo publishes a cartoon, people in Niger burns Churches. Suddenly the “don’t blame them for the actions of a few” doesn’t exist, but rather “burn all Churches” is the message.
Iran should not be permitted to have a traveling Shariah bubble wherever its fascist leaders go. It has a visceral hatred of women’s rights at home, jailing people who sing or dance, or want to watch volleyball, and when that doesn’t work, shooting them when they protest, but there is no reason to comply with the whims of such a disgusting abusive country abroad.
There has never been an instance of Iran showing respect for other cultures or people. It is never flexible or respectful. It’s concept is to force itself on others. And it has learned over the years that this bullying behavior works. The more it demands, the more it gets.
Similarly the Saudis have for years been able to impose their hateful culture on others. when Saudi diplomats travel they bring their servant-slaves with them. They rape women in India and the US, because they have become used to raping women in their home country, where women are seen as sub-human. There should be no Saudi rape-privilege, that just because they are Saudi they get to rape women wherever they want and get away with it. They must respect women in other countries, and not get to have a rape-bubble of immunity. Respecting the Saudis would be like bringing back the US slave-owners of the Old South and allowing them to bring their slaves with them to normal democratic states.
But it would be better to impose values on the Saudis and Iranians, at least symbolically. If they don’t want to see alcohol, too bad for them. Then no more meetings. No more state dinners. Western diplomats who are women should not have to accept second class status in meetings with these men.
Give respect and get respect. These countries are busy beheading people and slaughtering minorities and crushing the rights of millions of their citizens. If they can be kept at arms distance over a little wine, that would be good.