Many Iranians, including much of the state media, are cheering the flight of X-Prize co-founder and telecom bazillionaire Anousheh Ansari. Ansari, who was born in Iran but left for the United States at the age of 16, is the first Muslim woman to slip the surly bonds of earth, and will hang out at the International Space Station for eight days. The newspaper Hambasteghni calls Ansari's journey "a source of pride for all Iranians," while the state TV news agency IRIB gave her launch extensive coverage. Night Sky, an astronomy show on Iran's Channel 4, did a live interview with Ansari the day before she took off.
Jomhouri Eslami [newspaper] said the coverage of Anousheh Ansari, who on Monday became the world's first female space tourist when she blasted off on a Russian rocket, had caused astonishment in Iran.
"The persistence of IRIB (the state broadcaster) in exaggerating the trip of a rich Iranian woman who lives outside Iran and has gone to space with a Russian cosmonaut, has aroused people's astonishment," it said.
"The concern emanates from the fact that IRIB's behavior may lead to creating a role model for our boys and girls, while in our revolutionary society there are many women able to build airplanes and to perform other big industrial tasks with the least of facilities.
"It is expected that IRIB officials consider the repercussions of such role model-making," the hardline paper added.
There are some interesting points in this criticism. For one, the complaints are not Islamic but patriotic—the notion being that Ansari's a bad Iranian for living in America and flying with Russians. It's also notable that instead of objecting to a woman's going up to space with a bunch of men, Jomhouri Eslami is bragging about how Iran creates these same opportunities for women. The whole complaint about how revolutionary society needs its women to toil for the glory of the nation sounds more like something from the old Pravda than something from a Shiite cleric. That doesn't make the complaint legitimate, but it's a reminder of how Iran differs from its Arab neighbors: It's an actual country, where the people think of themselves as part of the country. Be glad the paper didn't criticize her for insider trading.
Related: The Mohamedans had the atom bomb when your ancestors were still painting themselves blue and living in caves.