Ahmadinejad's song and dance

Iran's president is under fire for allegedly watching a performance featuring female singers and dancers.

By Tracy Clark-Flory
Published December 8, 2006 4:17PM (EST)

Holy hypocrisy! Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in hot water after being filmed apparently watching a troupe of dancers and singers, including female vocalists performing sans veils, the Guardian reports.

The controversy erupted after video footage of Ahmadinejad at the opening ceremony for the Asian Games in Qatar, seemingly in the audience for the song and dance, surfaced on the Web. Under Islamic legal code, women are banned from performing this way before men, and government officials are expected to ditch any events where such debauched displays break out. The president's press secretary insists Ahmadinejad left before the show began.

Still, Ahmadinejad's fellow right-wingers are outraged by even the possibility of his having seen the spectacle. "We have heard from some sources that Ahmadinejad was in the stadium at the time," Jalal Yahyazadeh, a conservative M.P., told the Guardian. "Those who created the conditions for his presence should be investigated as quickly as possible." Conservative Web site Baztab, which is often critical of Ahmadinejad, posted video footage of the president apparently sitting in his seat following the performance. "The failure of Ahmadinejad to object and his constant presence has damaged the image of Iran's Islamic revolution and its commitment to Islamic rules in contrast with the Arab countries in the Gulf," the Web site rails.

There's nothing exactly shocking about the hard-liners' outrage (or, for that matter, about the performance itself). And, of course, this is hardly the first time dancing ladies have stirred up a storm. As the clash of cultures continues, it's also unlikely to be the last.

Tracy Clark-Flory

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