Tuesday, October 21, 2008

When in England...

I've just had one of my more bizarre broadcasting experiences with Press TV. I was invited on to do an hour's discussion on the Presidency of George W Bush. When I got there I discovered that the title of the programmes was: "Is George W Bush the Worst President in US History?" and that it was to be presented by Yvonne Ridley. Ridley is the former Sunday Express journalist who was captured by the Taliban and then converted to Islam.

I had never met Ms Ridley before, so being the polite lad I am, extended my hand to shake hands with her. She recoiled. "I don't do that!" she exclaimed. "What do you mean, you don't do that?" I asked, slightly nervously. "Have you never been to an Arab country?" she asked. "Not many," I said. "Well if you had, you'd know that muslim women don't shake hands with men," she informed me. "Well all the muslim women I know not only shake my hand but usually kiss me," I retorted. And then I added for good measure: "And anyway, I always go by the maxim, when in England...". So we didn't get off to a very good start.

The discussion itself was much more measured than I had expected, with the three other panellists (a former Nixon administration official, a woman from the Transatlantic Institute and an Oxford academic) all saying more positive things about Bush than I had thought. Sadly, I wasn't as belligerent as I had looked forward to being!

Press TV is Iranian owned and in December will go on the Sky platform. It is broadcast in 56 countries around the world and although it is sometimes thought to be an Iranian mouthpiece, I have never sensed that anything was ever censored. Indeed, I was told that Robert Fisk went on it last year and called Ahmedinijad a "crackpot". This did cause some consternation. Initially, the Iranians thought he was accusing him of being a drug dealer, rather than just being crazy. Crazy turned out to be OK.

28 comments:

Ranter said...

She sounds like a right nut job! Her Wikipedia entry is quite interesting.

lady finchley said...

Oh Verity, where are you when we need you?

Shaun said...

Glad to hear that Ms Ridley is getting over her Stockholm syndrome so well...

black country ethnic said...

so i guess you did not discuss boy george and THE donation....solicitation.

Anonymous said...

Oh the irony.
Yvonne (Why won’t any Muslim men marry me)Ridley pulled the same stunt in Saudi Arabia a few years back to a Saudi Prince when he too offered his hand. When she got back to England she found she had been sacked from her day job at the Islam Channel.
Strange how a plastic Muslim who tries very hard in which to come across as whiter than white has to resort to the laws of the kaffa in which to fight the sexism found in the Koran.
Oh by the way, I was born a Muslim and the reason Ridely is still single is no respecting Muslim family would dream of allowing her into the fold.
P.S
At least she got one thing right in wearing a burka.

Anonymous said...

It can be genuinely tricky though. As one of your probably very few female readers to have roots in the indian subcontinent, i have been in a number of situations where actually *shaking* a man's hand would have been considered rather aggressive and westernised and generally Not A Good Thing. However, if you then do the feminine holding out your hand routine in certain western political circles, you mark yourself out as needing assertiveness training. Not easy to get right!!

Cath said...

congratulations Iain on one of your funniest posts in ages

Westminster watch said...

Ms Ridley is posing!

I was recently in Saudi on a business trip which meant meeting female Moslems from Saudi, Palestine, Sudan, Jordan, etc, etc in a business context. No problems shaking hands. At an Iftar (1st meal at dusk during Ramadan) attended by about 50-60 people in a private house the abayas were also removed by most female moslems present in mixed male/female moslem/non-moslem company. This was Saudi where such matters are taken seriously.

She needs to lighten up.

Haile Amused said...

Religious converts are usually more dangerous than the indoctrinated since birth kind, no matter which superstition they believe in.

tbf katic said...

sounds as if she has delayed Stockholm syndrome.....

Anonymous said...

Wickiepedia says:

"Press TV is an English language international television news channel which is funded by the Iranian government, based in Tehran and broadcasts in English on a round-the-clock schedule. With 26 international correspondents and more than 400 staff around the world, its stated mission is to offer a different view of the world events".

What else did you expect?

Michael St George said...

Westminster Watch is quite right.

Ridley is talking complete bollocks - presumably she thinks that the viewers (who they? - Ed) will be impressed with a bit of infantile gesture politics.

St George has also travelled extensively in the Middle East, in both as business and leisure context: I have never experienced any reluctance on the part of a Muslim lady to shake hands on first, or subsequent meetings.

tbf katic said...

PS Shaking hands originates from times when we used to carry a sword. You would offer your right hand to your acquaintance to show that you offer the hand of friendship - and you are therefore unable to draw your sword. Technically, a woman would not carry a sword so she would not need to shake hands. (Isn't shaking a woman's hand always a bit odd in any case?!) And then there's the whole kissing thing. That is the real minefield.....

marvin said...

How ironic. She won £14,000 from Al-Jazeera for being fired. She claimed sexist discrimination.

I've heard the woman speak at an event close up. She's completely potty - she claimed drinking Coca Cola is like drinking the blood of Palestinian children.

Ann said...

She's an idiot..

Theres no point in letting English gentlemanly manners go due to her embrace of a backward culture. If she were truly a convert to islam what is she doing talking to a male who is not a relative?

geewiz said...

She was held captive for 11 days. 11 measly days and been milking it ever since.
Now, if it was anything like Ingrid Betancourt's ordeal then I might understand.

Anonymous said...

Obama needs to cut his ties to ACORN and their nation-wide voter fraud actions! http://tinyurl.com/6nra74

richard said...

Do you think Merrvyn does kids parties, I know some really happy kids and, frankly, they've been living it large - you know eating cake.

How much does he hate Gordon Brown?

Anywho - hhm... George has obviously been rubbish but this ain't his fault either - it's just a tectonic fault. At what point do you stop growing smack when you've seen what it does to people?

I love elections. Looks like Osborne's been singed aswell. Lad over on Guido did a lovely & heartfelt missive on life in the bbc. For the record I think this whole situation has been horrid. Good look both Georges and indeed both Georgias - good golfing for all.

Shake it off - time to start dancing.

Anonymous said...

lady finchley - I believe that old gin bag Verity is away with the fairies. Hopefully forever! It's so nice not to have read her narrow minded bigoted comments anymore.

tbf katic said...

Christ! Is that really true? Verity is no more?!

Verity is to Iain's blog what Madge is to Dame Edna - it just won't be the same without her.

Peter said...

Calling senior figures in the Iranian regime drug dealers is pretty much on the mark. Don't know about Ahmadinejad himself though....

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"lady finchley - I believe that old gin bag Verity is away with the fairies."

She pops up occasionally on Biased-BBC where she is in good company. They are a bunch of demented, infantile retards.

Rachel said...

Oh good God. I've always refused to go on it.

I still have Yvonne's begging emails...

Their publicising of conspiraloon holocaust-denier Nick Kollerstrom and his pals confirms me in my decision never to darken its doors.

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/martin-bright/2008/05/station-based-iranian-london

North Briton Hunter said...

I've known Yvonne Ridley for years, from her drinking days in the basement bar of Gerry's to her conversion to Islam.

While perfectly pleasant, she is clearly loopy.

Yes, she doesn't shake hands, which I find most odd - my other Muslim female friends don't seem to have any problems.

Joe Sixpack said...

I'm surprised you have anything to do with a channel that publishes this kind of rubbish

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail.aspx?id=15170&sectionid=3510304

Tim Worstall said...

She is in fact married.

I've been on that a couple of times. Once as the token rational amongst screaming lefties, on Monday as one of three rationals arguing against the imposition of a gold dinar monetary system on the world.

Quite fun to do although there are easier ways to make a living.

Stan said...

You should have simply said "We're not in an Arab country - this is England and in England polite, well mannered people of either sex shake hands when offered"

marvin said...

Iain, I really don't think you should sully your name by having anything more to do with Press TV.

It's got vile anti-Semitism, and Gorgeous George