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Iran throws wobbly at Google Video

Azerbaijan sovereignty kerfuffle

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Larry Page and Sergey Brin can cross Iran off their holiday destination list following the fun-loving Islamic republic's call for citizens to bombard the company with emails, The Guardian reports.

The reason for Iran's ire is the text accompanying this film on Google Video which states: "This video shows Tabriz, a city in Southern Azerbaijan, currently in the territory of Iran."

Oh dear, oh dear. As The Guardian explains, the offending text appears to relocate Tabriz in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, annexed by Russia in 1813. "Tabriz and southern Azerbaijan have belonged to Iran for more than 4,000 years," the paper adds, noting the outrage "has drawn accusations that the US-owned search engine is deliberately trying to undermine Iran's territorial integrity by fomenting separatist sentiment in the mainly Turkish-speaking province".

Iranian MP Valiallah Azarvash duly thundered: "An Iranian never accepts such slights. Since the second millennium BC, eastern Azerbaijan and Tabriz have never been separated from the body of Iran. How can they now belong somewhere else?"

Iran's IT ministry's representative, Samad Mohmen Bela, issued a patriotic call to arms with: "This act is a typical example of interference in the affairs of another country. The simplest, most effective response is for all Iranian users to reflect their objection to Google's management."

For the record, a quick shufti at Google Earth shows Tabriz to be resolutely Iranian, which is probably just as well for Google's email servers. ®

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