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Kazakhstan Asks Borat to Visit

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- A top Kazakh official has an invitation for the British comedian whose depiction of a homophobic, misogynistic, English-mangling Kazakh journalist has outraged the Central Asian nation: Come visit.

Deputy Foreign Minister Rakhat Aliyev said he understood why Kazakhs were unhappy about Sacha Baron Cohen's character, Borat.

"But we must have a sense of humor and respect other people's freedom of creativity," Aliyev said, Kazakhstan Today reported.

"I'd like to invite Cohen here," he said. "He can discover a lot of things. Women drive cars, wine is made of grapes and Jews are free to go to synagogues."

Though to some Cohen's antics are potentially more insulting to Americans, Kazakhs have long seethed at his popularity and his maligning of their country. Cohen's Borat character has presented inhabitants of Kazakhstan as addicted to horse urine, fond of shooting dogs, and viewing rape and incest as respectable hobbies. Kazakh officials have tried to respond to the outrageous depictions. The Foreign Ministry recently ran ads on CNN, in The New York Times, and the International Herald Tribune citing facts and figures on the nation's economic growth, civil liberties and cultural achievements.

"It's useless to offend an artist and threaten to sue him," Aliyev said. "It will only further damage the country's reputation and make Borat even more popular."

(The Moscow Times 23.x.06)

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