A prescription for the tablets

July 2, 2006 at 11:42 am (Espresso)

Pre-Islamic Iranian artefacts at University of Chicago at threat of being auctioned in compensation case brought against Iranian government, led by five survivors of 1997 Hamas bombing in Jerusalem. This week a federal judge in Chicago rejected a key defense of the university. Another hearing is due next month. Iran has vowed to retaliate if the US government does not intervene.

The University of Chicago is right to defend Iran’s right to its antiques — clay tablets discovered by its archaeologists at Persepolis in the 1930s. While it is perfectly acceptable for victims of terror to seek sue a government, it is somewhat distasteful to take a nation’s treasures to the pawnbrokers in order to make a fast buck. That would punish not Iran’s government but its people.

If only the survivors had joined Canada’s recent call for Germany to arrest Tehran prosecutor Said Mortazavi in connection with the torture and murder of photographer Zahra Kazemi in Evin prison in 2003.

Not only was the predator not detained, he managed to gatecrash a UN human rights meeting in Geneva to which Iran, understandably, had not been invited. Given that the West allows a suspected killer to make a mockery of justice in this way, surely its innocent artefacts should be afforded some diplomatic immunity.


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