Sunday, 1 June 2008


Fundamentalist Christians believe in the ultimate demise of Israel and the consignment of all Jews, Muslims and non-believers to hell, and so does President Ahmedinejad of Iran (except the muslims going to hell bit), who has his own end-time beliefs according to Ian McEwan.

"In Jamkaran, a village not far from the holy city of Qum, a small mosque is undergoing a $20m-expansion, driven forward by Ahmadinejad's office. Within the Shi'ite apocalyptic tradition, the Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi, who disappeared in the ninth century, is expected to reappear in a well behind the mosque. His re-emergence will signify the beginning of the end days. He will lead the battle against the Dajjal, the Islamic version of the anti-Christ, and with Jesus as his follower, will establish the global Dar el Salaam, the dominion of peace, under Islam. Ahmadinejad is extending the mosque to receive the Mahdi, and already pilgrims by the thousands are visiting the shrine, for the president has reportedly told his cabinet that he expects the visitation within two years."

Belief has many shades though, and not all Iranians share Ahmedinejad's nutjob beliefs (so don't bomb it - it won't end well!), especially not Marjane Satrapi.

Satrapi is the author of Persepolis, her graphic memoir (and film) of growing up in the Iranian revolution. The book melds the politics of religion, gender and exile with a cynical humour and a zest for life that gives a real feel for the contradictions of Iranian society. Just fabulous!

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