When Words Fail

This is what the Tehran Book Fair is like, according to the Daily Star (via Agence France-Presse.)

Scooby Doo, where are you? If you’re at Tehran’s book fair and looking for something for the kids, you’ll find the stand right next to Islamic Jihad’s and around the corner from the stands of Hizbullah and Hamas. Iran’s massive annual literary fest has something for everyone: Thomas the Tank Engine, interior decorating, Microsoft Windows programming, “How to Kill an Israeli” and Jean-Paul Sartre.

“We have a stand here every year,” explained a young man at the Hamas booth, which featured T-shirts emblazoned with the portrait of their late spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, replica suicide bomber headbands and posters featuring mugshots of Palestinians who “blew themselves to bits.”

The literary message, explained the Hamas rep, was that “they blow themselves up so others can have a better life.”

The man at the Islamic Jihad booth was offering a history of Palestine pamphlet and a rather bloody CD-Rom on “Martyrdom-Seeking Operators.”

Publishers from the United States are also represented at the packed book fair at Tehran’s sprawling international exhibition center, albeit by their Iranian import agents, and drawing large crowds.