If you like caffeine and literature, and have the poor fortune of living in Iran, then your life just got a little more inconvenient. The Iranian government has decreed that bookstores operating coffee shops are committing an 'illegal mixing of trades'. So, the coffee shops have got to go. From the Guardian:
Four bookshops in Tehran this week closed their coffee shops after receiving a 72-hour ultimatum from Amaken-e Omoomi, a state body governing the retail trade. The order has led to the closure of the cafe in one of the city's best-known bookshops, Nashr-e Sales, which has hosted reading sessions by writers, including the Nobel prize-winning Turkish author, Orhan Pamuk, and become a popular meeting point for literary types.
If I were a suspicious man, I would think that this was some attempt to prevent educated folks from getting together and expressing ideas. You know, like how living under a medieval theocracy kinda sucks. Those kinds of ideas are dangerous, and need to be suppressed.
Oh wait. I am a suspicious man, and that's totally what's happening. Yes, oppression takes another bold step into the quotidian for the Iranian people. They must be thrilled.
And just in case you thought this was all just some wacky misunderstanding, check this out:
The reformist newspaper, Etemad-e Melli, pointed out that Ahl-e Ghalam, a bookstore linked to the culture and Islamic guidance ministry, had been allowed to keep its cafe. "When we pointed this out to the authorities, their argument was that just because other people make a mistake doesn't mean you have to repeat it," one bookshop owner told the Guardian."We are trying through our trade association to find a remedy."
It's not like you needed another reason to conclude that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his gang of fundamentalists are a bunch of thugs. But here you go.
Photo: Ahmadinejad says "Books and coffee? Never the twain shall meet".