News of the Muse

Borat: A human rights victim?

borat 88 (photo credit: )
borat 88
(photo credit: )
IPO celebrates in Japan The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra continues its 70th anniversary celebrations with seven concerts in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Kurushiki, Fukuoka, Miyazai from March 17-25. This will be the Orchestra's ninth visit to Japan; their first visit was in 1960 and since 1983 the Orchestra has been going to Japan every three years. Following its enormously successful 70th Anniversary Celebration Festival in Israel in December 2006, performing with many of the world's leading conductors and soloists who have a close relationship with the IPO, the Orchestra is touring worldwide during 2007. In January 2007 the Orchestra made acclaimed visits to Carnegie Hall, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco and in August and September 2007 it will visit no fewer than 19 European cities including the Salzburg, Gstaad and Lucerne Festivals. The programme to be performed at the Suntory Hall, Tokyo on Saturday March 17 at 7.00 pm to launch the Japan tour will be Schubert's Symphony No 3 and Mahler's Symphony No 7 and on Sunday March 18 at 2.00 pm Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra and Dvorak's Symphony No 9. The two programmes will be presented through the Japan tour. Borat: A human rights victim? Last week, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized Kazakhstan, the vast oil-producing Central Asian state, for increased restrictions on freedom of speech and other abuses in the State Department's annual human rights report. Anything remotely related to Khazakstan immediately brings Borat to mind, the world's most famous Kazakh (albeit a fake one). And the State Department didn't forget him either. Its report cited the removal of Borat's Kazakh Web page,, in late 2005 as an example of free speech limitations faced by the few domestic medial critical of the country's long-serving President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Baron Cohen, who subsequently moved the site to, has been something of a thorn in the side of Kazakhstan's government, which initially reacted angrily to his portrayal of the country as home to misogynists and racists. Shortly before the Web site closure, a Kazakh Foreign Ministry official threatened "legal measures" against him. Cohen, who is Jewish, responded in character as Borat saying: "I...fully support my government's position to sue this Jew." There was no lawsuit and officials adopted a more measured stance on Borat, whose movie grossed $248 million last year, with Nazarbayev later saying that he got the joke during a news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.