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HSBC slips into Iran’s warm bed

January 5, 2011

HSBC finds Iran rather more egalitarian than crusty old America.  In a new advertisement, HSBC praises Iran for the number of women directing films and backhands the U.S. for a lack of progress on that front.

But maybe HSBC isn’t just growing tired of Hollywood chauvinism, but bored of conventional loans.  They’ve embraced sharia financial products with growing fervor. 

Pro-Iranian statements and an Islamized division within HSBC would raise the eyebrows of almost any reasonable person.  The Wall Street Journal offered this additional perspective on the HSBC ad on Dec. 31 (hat tip to Israel Matzav):

Once known as the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, HSBC wants to be known today as “the world’s local bank.” To convey the message, it plasters airport jetways, city blocks and glossy magazines with colorful, pithy advertisements. From the looks of one such ad, though, HSBC might be more accurately considered “Iran’s useful idiot.”

The ad features a photograph of a desert oasis. In the background are some electrical lines, and in the foreground a lone, robed figure stands behind an old-fashioned video camera. Beside the image is text: “Only 4% of American films are made by women. In Iran it’s 25%,” HSBC informs us. “We find potential in the most unexpected places. Do you?”

Just like that, the banking behemoth reveals the danger of bubble-gum corporate cosmopolitanism: Every now and then, you might suggest that a murderous theocracy is actually a progressive place.

One wonders what Jafar Panahi would make of the suggestion that Iran’s filmmaking environment compares favorably to America’s. We can’t know, however, because the acclaimed director and his colleague Mahmoud Rasoulof were just sentenced to six years in prison. There they’ll join, among others, the filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad, who news reports say is on a hunger strike in Tehran’s Evin Prison.

Good point!

Note that this is the same HSBC that was bombed by Islamists in Turkey.  It’s the same HSBC that faces pending fines from the U.S. Department of Justice for deceptive practices.  By now, you’d think HSBC would know better.

Would a major corporation or bank ever seek its own protection by buying out imams with hefty stipends for sitting on sharia advisory boards?  Would major companies ever follow the Saudi model of fusing yourself to the zealots to cover your own rear end?  Hmm, make the Islamic clerics happy, and all the sudden your bank branches stop exploding in Turkey.  Remarkable coincidence.

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