A Thriller as Propaganda: On the Iranian TV Series ‘Zero Degree Turn’

A Thriller as Propaganda: On the Iranian TV Series ‘Zero Degree Turn’

Every Monday at 10 p.m. for the past several weeks, millions of Iranians have been hunkering down in front of the "Bearded Box" -- as Iranians like to call Iran's state-controlled television, since bearded clerics are so often all there is to see on it. They are tuning in, however, not in order to listen to yet another representative of the state clergy, but rather to follow a TV series on the persecution of the Jews in the 1940s.

Even the Wall Street Journal has enthusiastically reported on the series: underscoring thereby that Iran's state-controlled television -- unlike the President of the country, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- does not treat the Holocaust as a myth or deny the persecution of the Jews under National Socialism. The author of the WSJ article, Farnaz Fassihi, is even convinced that the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, has not endorsed the views of President Ahmadinejad.

Fassihi finds it surprising that Iranian television would broadcast the 22-part series titled "Zero Degree Turn." As she notes, the series centers on the love between the Iranian-Palestinian Muslim Habib Parsa, a young philosophy student studying in Paris, and a French Jewish woman. Their story takes place during the German occupation. When the lives of his beloved and her family are in danger, the young Iranian philosopher uses his contacts to obtain Iranian passports for them, thus permitting them to flee to Iran.

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