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Contentions

Do Persian Words Matter?

In a Live Chat at NPR, some Iran experts tease out the subtleties of the oh-so-nuanced Iranian chant: “Death to America.”

Steve Inskeep:  . . . Are there Iranian leaders who really MEAN it when they say ‘Death to America,’ and others who don’t and would like an accomodation?

Hooman Majd:  Yes, there are those who mean it. I think they’re in the tiny minority.

Azadeh Moaveni:  That’s exactly right, Steve. Everyone has to say it, more or less heatedly, but behind the scenes [leaders hold] very different positions regarding how to actually conduct relations with the US.

Maybe Obama can pick the right mullah to approach by gauging the amount of foam on the death-chanter’s lips.



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