Alastair and Archie had stayed overnight, and for an extended lunch we had Philip and Edwina, Kina, Sue and Lyulph, Vanessa and Jamie, and Alex.
We listened to the Queen and Mr Ahmedinejad, and I thought he should have also livened his talk up with some clips of essential events of the past year, such as the installation of some new centrifuges or the stoning to death of a married woman found guilty of adultery - its only 80 lashes if she's unmarried.
Of course, Mr Ahmedinejad avoided any reference to the extremist interpretations of Islam preached by some, though not all, of the mullahs in Iran. The Iranian media no longer report executions as they did until recently, and I'm not sure that sinners are executed in public these days.
In Islam,as in Christianity, so much depends on the interpretation of the scriptures. The Qur'an and the Bible could both be treated as justifying men's domination of women and the criminalisation of gays, and there are some Christians who still read the Bible as if every word came directly from the almighty and must be followed to the letter. Actually, those books are the product of their times, and they reflect the ideas of the 1st and 7th centuries, but nowadays, in the Dar el-Harb, the non-Islamic world (the Abode of War,literally), there is acceptance in principle of the equality of all human beings, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. So we are doubly shocked to read that militants in the Pakistani province of Swat have announced that all girls' schools must close by January 1, and they will blow up any that are still open after that date. Its appalling enough that in the view of these people,led by Maulana Fazlullah, women should be deprived of education, but worse,that apparently the Pakistan authorities have no power to arrest them for threatening violence against anyone who resists them,on their own radio station!