Iran, which turned a deaf ear last year to protests over its attempt to rewrite history through a Holocaust conference, now is crying foul over what it calls a "fabrication of culture and insult" to Iranians in the Hollywood hit movie "300."
"Cultural intrusion is among the tactics always used by the aliens," a government spokesman charged in a statement made to the state FARS News Agency. "Such a fabrication of culture and insult to people is not acceptable by any nation or government and we consider this attitude as hostile."
The Iranian press has seized on the outrage, with one newspaper, Ayandeh-No, proclaiming: "Hollywood declares war on Iranians."
Javad Shangari, a cultural adviser to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, attacked the film as being "part of a comprehensive U.S. psychological warfare aimed at Iranian culture," Daily Variety reported Wednesday.
"Everyone is starting to react. The DVD is already very available, and people are quite angry," one Tehran-based producer told Daily Variety. He doubted the film will ever be distributed in the region, though boot-leg copies already had made their way into many Middle East capitals.
An online petition calls the movie's distributor, Warner Brothers, "irresponsible, unethical and unscientific actions ... while announcing our disgust at such a heresy, we demand an immediate historical review and quick apology from the responsible people."
The film depicts the 480 B.C. Battle of Thermopylae between 300 Spartan soldiers and an invading Persian army. Iranians are descendents of Persians, who are portrayed as evil. Of particular scorn for Iranians is the depiction of Persian Emperor Xerxes, who was descended from Cyrus, and is revered in Iran for having written the first human rights declaration.
The Iranian government hosted a two-day gathering last December, billed as a legitimate conference on the historical record and invited notorious Holocaust deniers and white supremacists from around the world, including former Ku Klux Klan leader, David Duke.
The Foreign Ministry held the event after Ahmadinejad claimed several times that the Holocaust was a myth, invented by Zionists to justify the establishment of Israel.
Daily Variety and the New York Times contributed to this report.