No Joke

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Maziar Bahari tells the story of his time in Iran's infamous Evin prison. They interrogators didn't understand The Daily Show:

Only a few weeks earlier, hundreds of foreign reporters had been allowed into the country in the run-up to the election. Among them was Jason Jones, a “correspondent” for Stewart’s satirical news program. Jason interviewed me in a Tehran coffee shop, pretending to be a thick-skulled American. He dressed like some character out of a B movie about mercenaries in the Middle Eastwith a checkered Palestinian kaffiyeh around his neck and dark sunglasses. The “interview” was very short. Jason asked me why Iran was evil. I answered that Iran was not evil. I added that, as a matter of fact, Iran and America shared many enemies and interests in common. But the interrogators weren’t interested in what I was saying. They were fixated on [the recording of] Jason.

“Why is this American dressed like a spy, Mr. Bahari?” asked the new man.

“He is pretending to be a spy. It’s part of a comedy show,” I answered.

“Tell the truth!” Mr. Rosewater shouted. “What is so funny about sitting in a coffee shop with a kaffiyeh and sunglasses?”

“It’s just a joke. Nothing serious. It’s stupid.” I was getting worried. “I hope you are not suggesting that he is a real spy.”

“Can you tell us why an American journalist pretending to be a spy has chosen you to interview?” asked the man with the creases. “We know from your contacts and background that you told them who to interview for their program.” The other Iranians interviewed in Jason’s reporta former vice president and a former foreign ministerhad been arrested a week before me as part of the IRGC’s sweeping crackdown. “It’s just comedy,” I said, feeling weak.

(Hat tip: Silverstein)

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