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ON AIR - a journalist from Kazakhstan

Peter van Dyk | 17:57 UK time, Monday, 25 September 2006

As Ros wrote earlier, today we're talking about a new movie about - sort of - Kazakhstan, the rise of the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia, and asking if television shows are chasing too much danger.

You can read emails and text messages here, and of course post your own comments as well.

Sam Toy is a staff writer for Empire Magazine - he says the people who should be embarassed by the movie are the Americans, as that is really what the movie is making fun of.

Roman Vassilenko is a spokesperson for the Kazakh embassy in Washington. He says his government doe shave a sense of humour. He agrees with Sam Toy but says that Borat comes from an invented country that should be called Borat-istan, which is nothing like Kazakhstan.

Tamara in Kazakhstan said she is not offended but she enjoys wathcing it- it's outrageous, hilarious and not true. Marzhan said she thought Borat was bad until she saw it and found him funny, but her friends are offended and told her to go on the BBC and tell everyone they were insulted by the show.

She says her friends are concerned that when they go abroad they will be seen as countrymen of Borat, who doesn't wash.

Tamara said one of her friends hadn't seen Borat and was offended, so she showed him the programme and he was converted.

She told her government to not make a big deal about Borat because the reaction would be worse for Kazakhstan. Marzhan said the government is damned if they do and damned if they don't. The government hsouldn't react but people should, and the mass media should.

Mr Vassilenko said he had lots of emails from people offering support. He added that the reaction of the government was not so big - there had been no lawsuits for example - but they had taken out ads to promote Kazakhstan while the president was in the United States.

Robert said the Kazakh government had got it wrong - they should run their adverts to go with the film and use it to their advantage.

The Kazakhs are forgetting that Borat is a satirical character. Tamara agreed that he was making fun of people's ignorance about Kazakhstan. Marzhan worried that people didn't know the character was fictional and that was the problem.

Mark is married to a Kazakh woman and he said Sacha Baron Cohen should have created an imaginary country - people would understand. He thinks it's unfortunate that people interested in investing in Kazakhstan or going there might be put off.

Mr Vassilenko took on Robert's suggestion about an ad campaign off the back of the film when it is released in November.

Robert then asked him about the president's daughter supporting Borat. mr Vassilenko said that was exactly the government's line.

Tamara hoped it would be possible to see the movie. Marzhan also hoped to be able see it, as people needed to understand what the world thought of them.

Asked if Kazakhstan is a confident country, Mr Vassilenko said it was.

Talgat painted a picture of a booming Kazakhstan - Ros asked why they would take offence then. Valeria was concerned that people wouldn't get the joke.

Andrew emailed:

99.9% of Americans don't know who Borat is, where Kazakstan is, nor do they care. Americans are used to taking shots, they won;t be embarrassed. You have to remeber that the vast majority of the American public would sooner see "Saw III". Borat's movie will probably show in small independent theatres in the US, if at all.

Allan, Detroit, MIchigan

I can understand how people in K-stan would be offended by Borat. However, humor is a complex thing, and what "Borat" is really making fun of is ignorance of the world, in particular, the worignorance of the world that is so common amongst us Americans. This ignorance comes at tremendous price; one has to look no further than the Iraq war fiasco to see this.

Jane, who says she's from the capital of "West Virginia", Akron, Ohio - "and that is supposed to be an insult to us, too."

Oh, for crying out loud. Every people has a group they accuse of being backward. And eventually each group of people is the butt of the others' jokes. No one thinks that Borat is "telling the truth." Everyone who is bent about it needs to lighten up and get a life!

Justin in Arizona:

No government, not even the U.S. Government, likes to be made fun of. Particularly when the issues raised show the need for change. The Kazakhstan government needs to recognize the right of freedom of speech and embrace the responsibilities that go along with it. One of which is paying attention to the issues raised in descent.

Eddie, Enugu, Nigeria

Just as how when "The DaVinci Code" film came out Christian churches mounted a campaign to let people know the truth of the matter, it would also be a good thing for the Kazakh government to come out with their own information campaign to let people realize that the Kazahhstan that "Borat" portrays is fictional and a figure of fun.

Mikael, Detroit, MI, USA

The government and people of Kazakhstan should not be worried about the people in America or other places in the world who believe that Borat is a true representation of their way of life. As an American I am truly sorry that there are people who are just plain stupid in my country, however, these are not the people who will be investing or visiting their country. There will be millions of Americans laughing at the stupidity of their country in the theaters tonight, and only the most ignorant will leave with any new views of Kazakhstan.

Tekla, Burbank, CA
I think, in however much poor taste, that like Bill Handel's Stan Watch on Los Angeles radio KFI after 9/11, Cohen is seeking to bring attention to the area of Central Asia for better or worse. Farce can be productive. Kazakhstan is right to spin the attention in their favor. The Australians don't squawk about Crocodile Dundee, the French tolerate Inspector Clouseau and England has Benny Hill. Kazakhstan welcome to the neighborhood.

Peace in Somalia?

The head of the BBC's Somali Service, Yusuf Garaad Omar, joined us and gave us the latest news of the Ethiopian troops near Baidoa.

Hussein in Mogadishu says people are reacting different - some people welcome the fall of the key port of Kismayo but some oppose it saying it could increase fighting in the south. He said that in terms of security, this will encourage more people to support them.

Isa in Mogadishu is one of those people. He says the people who worry about democracy already have a good life. When Somalia comes out of its current problems then they will find out if it's democracy or not.

Asked by Ros if he wanted the ICU to take ove rthe whole country, he replied that if the transitional government can only rule in Baidoa then they should let the Islamic Courts run the country.

Leila called in to say that after years of violence Somalis would take some peace no matter where it comes from.

Mathew, New Jersey

"Islamic Courts," unfortunately, is another name for the al-qaeda in Somalia. Ethiopian troops being in Somalia is a good thing for Somalia.

Wilson in Uganda

The islamic courts would promote the rule of sharia laws which abuse fundermental human rights plse UN come out and help the Somalians.


What is wrong with the Somalia Interim government? We the Somali people are completely tired of the useless lot who have failed to give the Somali state.

Mansour of Monrovia

The UN Security Council should stop the lslamist court from taking over Somalia they are not the transitional government of that country.

Bakary Jago The Gambia

The Power struggle is not the main issue in Somalia. All factions should come together to heal the wounds inflicted by the so called warlords.

Toni in Uganda

We do not need the Americans to come to our rescue,

Danger TV

How far is it acceptable for TV presenters to go for viewers' entertainment?

Brian in Washington DC says Steve Irwin said he felt pressure to do more than he had before. It was a bit like watching an extended snuff movie, he says.

Mark in Dublin argues that people know the risks and take them upon themselves. Some people may have a morbid obsession but motor sports fans don't watch it for these reasons.

Brian asked if Mark was worried that viewers would see the fast cars and try it on the street, or pick up snakes in the outback. Mark said there will always be people who do such things but TV sholdn't be blamed.

Summer in USA

What about shows like "Viva La Bam" and "Jackass"? in these shows you see people acting stupid, doing dangerous things. Bam is my 13 year old brother's idol, that is terrifying to me. You can say things like, "don't try this at home" but that isn't going to stop kids from acting stupid because people like Johnny Knoxville and Bam glorify dangerous acts. But i feel like Steve Irwin and that guy who crashed are completely different.

Nathan, US
I hate the "what about the children?" argument... kids are going to do what kids are going to do. When i was younger i knew plenty of people who raced their cars and did other stupid things having never seen Top Gear.


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