I guess I was wrong about Iran.
Back in January 2007, I blogged about the World Award of Monotheistic Religions, which was hosted by Tehran. The third place winner? Michal Jandura of Poland, whose piece showed three interlocking books -- one marked with a cross, one with a star of David and one with a crescent.
The piece suggested to me that not only are all three religions comprised of people of the book, but indeed the narratives are all intertwined. Only together can the stories unfold. The piece alone made the whole show worthwhile.
In the post, I said the Tehran contest was arguably one of the most promising signs of a potential model for peace, with its emphasis on creating, feeling and interpreting -- all terms in a universal vocabulary upon which Jew, Christian and Muslim alike can agree.
But now, more than four years later, the Associated Press is reporting that Iran is boycotting the 2012 London Olympics logo (image: AP) on the grounds that it contains the word 'Zion.'
According to the AP (via ESPN) the secretary general of the Iranian National Olympic Committee claims Iran complained to Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, that the logo spells out the hated word Zion, affiliated biblically with present-day Israel. The logo was apparently also called "racist."
According to the AP, the letter added, "There is no doubt that negligence of the issue from your side may affect the presence of some countries in the Games, especially Iran which abides by commitment to the values and principles."
The International Olympic Committee defended the logo saying it "represents the figure 2012, nothing else."
Writing in the New Yorker, Samantha Henig observed that some people have seen either a Swastika or "a sexual act" in the logo. Jaime Morrison Curtis sees " an indecent Lisa Simpson." Although I think Iran's claim is absurd (this logo might as well be a Rorschach test), I'm concerned about some of the conversation this is generating.
Writing in USA Today, Tom Weir said, "So hey, Iran, stay home. That's one less security threat to worry about. One less team that's likely to drag religion or politics onto the sports stage."
Iran should put an end to this nonsense and should show up to the Olympics. But even if it chooses to persist in it's poor-excuse for art criticism, let's try to focus on that work from 2007 that shows Christians, Jews and Muslims working together as interlocking books.