23 December 2006

Holocaust denier is not kosher

I really feel with the shareholders of the Danish food conglomerate Arla. Arla's profits plunged rapidly in the aftermath of the publication of the Muhammad cartoons in Jyllands Posten. Arla has clearly been trying hard to improve its image; it was rather amusing to find them at the finance careers fair at my university, among the likes of Morgan Stanley and KPMG. (Someone should have told them that we do not even have an Islamic Society. When Jack Straw MP spoke out against wearing of the veil, Student Respect had to invite an activist in hijab from nearby Leeds to explain how offended she was.)

Poor Arla's bosses now have a new headache. Danish arts group Surrend managed to mock the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The half-page ad below was published in the conservative Tehran Times, whose editors were clearly unconscious of the fact that the first letters of each slogan, when read from top to bottom, result in S-W-I-N-E. Spot on, one hastens to add.

Jan Egesborg of Surrend commented on the act for Reuters: "We did it to cause a reaction. There is a young population there [in Iran] which wants more liberalisation. Hopefully they will be inspired." The students at Amir Kabir University of Technology in Tehran do not seem to need a hint; they are already spearheading the student movement against the authoritarian President. Last week they cut short his speech, shouting "death to the dictator."

21 December 2006

Contemporary Polish dinosaurs call Jesus to service

It has definitely been an eventful year in Polish politics. Warsaw Business Journal ran a feature summarising the most bizarre events which affected the Polish political landscape in last 12 months.

Everyone has heard of the Polish plumber and the Polish-German potato war, sparked off by Die Tageszeitung. However, the mayoral election in Białystok went largely unnoticed outside Poland, which is a pity. Krzysztof Kononowicz stood on the radical platform of "abolishing" alcohol and cigarettes, and pledged to ensure that there would be "no banditry, no thievery, there will be nothing" in his election broadcast. He managed to poll 2%.

Maciej Giertych, an MEP for the LPR (Liga Polskich Rodzin) party made a shocking revelation, claiming that "research shows that dinosaurs and man were contemporaries." The academic community was clearly cornered by his persuasive arguments; "in every culture there are indications that we remember dinosaurs. The Scots have Nessie; we Poles have the Wawel dragon, Marco Polo spoke of an imperial carriage in China which was pulled by a dragon." Giertychs son Roman, the current Education Minister, provided some comfort to the embattled Darwinists: evolution should be taught in schools "as long as most scientists in our country say that it is the right theory". Giertych Senior rewrote the history one more time: "A scientist showed me a picture of an American boxer. He had all the traits of Neanderthal man. These people are among us. They are part of the human race, probably more prevalent once upon a time, but who still exist." This time his sons reaction was rather timid: "I am no expert. I am not a biologist." Daddy, who received a PhD in biology (tree physiology) at the University of Toronto, simply cannot be wrong.

As if all that was not enough, the Samoobrona party has now been hit by the sex scandal involving the Sejm deputy Stanisław Łyżwiński and the party leader Andrzej Lepper.

All that makes the desperate Poles retreat to the last resort; Jesus is being called to reign in this blessed earthly kingdom from now on, forever and ever. I personally consider that as a progressive step in the right direction: surely the Son of God has made himself a reputation as someone who dislikes haggling; the Council of Ministers proceedings could run much more smoothly if the heroic Poland gathers enough courage to take this bold step forward. And how envious would the Germans be! Also, their Pope would suddenly become a mere servant of the Polish King!