The wider the spread of this story, reported using remarkably similar phrasing and poorly-punctuated translation by the BBC, New York Times, Guardian and others, about the Iranian cleric who suggested that immorality could provoke a judgment from god, no shock or horror, through Facebook groups and so on…

…and the more I read the same tiny quotes from what was probably a lengthy sermon which seems, on the basis of the sections I have been able to find, to have used ‘earthquakes’ at least a couple of times as a trope, again, not particularly shocking or horrifying in the context of a religious sermon in a region given to earthquakes (physical and social), or particularly worthy of comment given the sheer eye-swivelling wrong-headedness of the suggestion that actually, physically, promiscuity in women, whatever that means, might cause tectonic plates on the earth to shift (… in fact what the headline should have said was ‘cleric says promiscuity makes god cause earthquakes’ which is a not at all shocking statement for a cleric to make, as noted by “Sabretooth” at LucasForums)…

…the more I grow uneasy that there is some kind of black propaganda at work, perhaps intended to make everyone in Iran seem atavistic, not quite the full shilling, clearly unworthy of being allowed anywhere near fissile material, nay READY to be invaded, perhaps destroyed in order to be saved.

Almost like the misquoted speech from Ahmedinejad about “wiping Israel off the map” was.

I am not in favour of repressive regimes or religious fundamentalism, but neither do I favour one-sided conversations. In fact, my unease is supported by a colleague just then reading the story aloud and suggesting that Ahmedinejad and Sedighi’s quotes were both from Ahmedinejad. Because those mad mullahs all look the same from here, presumably. People get as far as the leading headline and then go off on one.

Full transcript please, and stop trying to wind people up with half a quote.

There has been a very great deal of commentary globally on the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi , the Libyan man convicted of the Pan-Am Flight 103 Lockerbie bombing.  The whole thing was making me very melancholy, the sudden outpouring of fury, repressed grief and indignation.

Outrage from some apparently unconnected with anything, for the sake of political point scoring? FBI head Robert Mueller joined the chorus of people decrying the relase of the bomber (which, having dropped his appeal, the terminally ill al-Megrahi remains), saying it gave “comfort to terrorists around the world”.  Given compelling evidence that al-Megrahi had precisely nothing to do with the bombing, it might be suggested that his continuing imprisonment was providing terrorists around the world with such comfort (I picture them swiping their fists and snarling ‘Curses!’ in their lairs).

Mueller’s comments refer to his release ignoring due process such as conviction by jury, which al-Megrahi did not get, the case against him being heard by three Lords, Sutherland QC, Coulsfield QC and Maclean QC, and no jury:

Left to right: Lords Coulfield, Sutherland and Maclean

Left to right: Lords Coulfield, Sutherland and Maclean

 Al-Megrahi was convicted pretty much entirely on the basis of the evidence of Tony Gauci, a shopkeeper from Malta, described as ‘an apple short of a picnic‘, by one of the Prosecution, and allegedly paid quite a large sum of money by the Americans for his testimony.  Gauci said he was pretty sure, kind of, that he had sold some clothes to someone who looked just like al-Megrahi (except for being a good few inches taller and between 10 and 20 years older 11 years before he identified al-Megrahi.)

This was enough to do for al-Megrahi.  As the late investigative journalist Paul Foot notes in a totally absorbing special report for Private Eye (which is only £5.00 and essential reading):

 There was no evidence at all that he [al-Megrahi] had made the bomb, packed it in a case and put it on the plane at Malta, but he obviously had.


The report by Foot also pays particular attention to the previous suspects in the case, who had been Palestinians paid by the Iranians or Syrians, and who were dropped from the picture when the first Gulf War was about to kick off and the Syrians and Iranians suddenly looked like they should be onside.

 Dr Hans Köchler, the UN-nominated independent observer charged with evaluating the trial, said in 2001: 

…the undersigned has reached the conclusion that foreign governments or (secret) governmental agencies may have been allowed, albeit indirectly, to determine, to a considerable extent, which evidence was made available to the Court.


 All of which governments or (secret) agencies would have an interest in not being made to look like idiots by the outcome of a successful appeal by al-Megrahi, hence, perhaps, the very loud shouting now that the original “rightful” conviction appears to have been negated. 

270 people, meanwhile, remain dead…  with relatives left very little chance of actually finding out what happened, possibly due to further international political chicanery, with accusations involving oil deals being placed at a premium in the matter. As usual.  

 I admire the decision of Kenny MacAskill, made under extreme pressure. I hope that the real answers for why and for how the plane was destroyed might emerge, although I doubt it, both regarding the facts and with regard for any kind of adequate reason as to why such things happen.  

We seem to have a limitless capacity as a species for vindictiveness, in what drives some of us to bomb each other, or to wish some other similar fate on the people who do so, as if that will make anything better.  Decisions like that made by MacAskill give me some sort of minuscule hope we might be able to get over ourselves.