A 'halal' Internet for Iran?

Via Cyrus Farivar,  Iran's state news agencies are reporting that the country's leaders are planning the development of new "Internet" created along Islamic principles: 

 "Iran will soon create an internet that conforms to Islamic principles, to improve its communication and trade links with the world," the head of economic affairs with the Iranian presidency, told state news agency Irna in an interview.



Ali Aqamohammadi explained that Iran's new network will operate in parallel to the World Wide Web and will replace it in Muslim countries in the region.



"We can describe it as a genuinely 'halal' network aimed at Muslims on a ethical and moral level.



"The aim of this network is to increase Iran and the Farsi language's presence in what has become the most important source of international communication," Aqamohammadi said.


Given Iran's high-levels of Internet use and flourishing blogosphere, the idea of the country developing its own internal network a la North Korea's Kwangmyong seems patently absurd. But it's certainly possible that Iranian leaders are looking east, attempting to emulate China's efforts to, as Tim Wu puts it, build an "Internet that feels free and acts as an engine of economic progress yet in no way threatens the Communist Party's monopoly on power."  



Will Zahi Hawass exit through the gift shop... to jail?

It didn't take long for Zahi Hawass to get into trouble again. A bit more than two weeks after the world-famous Egyptologist was named minister of antiquities in the new Egyptian government -- despite his close ties to the Mubarak regime -- he's now facing a possible one-year jail sentence.

You can read a full explanation of the convoluted case at the Talking Pyramids blog, but the short version is that Hawass allegedly continued an auction for the right to operate a gift shop in the Egyptian museum after a court order ending the bidding. On the list of the Mubarak regime's crimes, this doesn't rank too high, but I suppose it is important that gift shop operating rights auctions be as fair and transparent as possible. Hawass writes on his blog that he is appealing the case.    

In a separate scandal, several Egyptian publications are claiming that Hawass used priceless artifacts in the Egyptian museum's collection for a photo shoot to promote his fashion line. The photos, seen here, show a model appearing to sit in Tutankhamun's chair and leaning on frescoes.

It seems like Hawass is getting a bum rap on this one. The photo shoot took place at the King Tut exhibit in New York, not Cairo. Both the photographer and Hawass say that the chair the model is sitting on is a replica and that no 3,000 year old artifacts were actually handled -- which seems believable. 

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