Is it just me, or does the closure of the British Council in Iran seem a very sad moment in the cultural dynamic between Iran and Britain?
According to the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, the closure is unavoidable:
Today the British Council has announced that it has been forced to suspend its operation in Iran because of unacceptable pressure put on its staff by the Iranian government. It is a matter of great regret that a country with Iran’s culture should reject attempts to break down barriers and build cultural dialogue.
The work of the British Council is completely non-political: it is focused on improving the relationship between our two countries by promoting mutual understanding and respect. The British government will continue to support and promote improved relations between the people of Iran and the UK.
The people of Iran do not want to be isolated from the world. So I hope the Iranian government will enable the British Council to resume normal operations as soon as possible. [Source]
My first encounter of the British Council occurred during my time in Amman; it seemed a wonderful environment where people could not only learn, but sup coffee of an afternoon, attend events, and generally trade thoughts and experiences.
Admittedly, my favourite haunt was the French Cultural Center in Jabal El-Webdeh (complete with an utterly awesome library – heaven for a bibliophile like myself), but such places are just so… wonderful.
That a cultural institute should be closed due to the political fretting of its nation is churlishly woeful.