Borat Invited To Kazakhstan

Actor Sacha Baron Cohen arrives at the Toronto International Film Festival premiere screening of "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" held at Ryerson Theatre on September 7, 2006 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images) Getty Images

A top Kazakh official has an invitation for Sacha Baron Cohen, whose character, Borat, parodies a Kazakh journalist: Come visit.

Deputy Foreign Minister Rakhat Aliyev said in an interview that he understands why Kazakhs are unhappy about Cohen's character. But he told the newspaper Kazakhstan Today that "we must have a sense of humor and respect other people's freedom of creativity."

"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."

Cohen's character has presented inhabitants of the ex-Soviet republic as addicted to horse urine, fond of shooting dogs, and viewing incest as a respectable tradition. Cohen's film, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," was released Friday.

Kazakh officials have tried to respond to Cohen's depiction of their country.

The Foreign Ministry recently ran ads on CNN, in The New York Times, and in 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 was quoted as saying. "It will only further damage the country's reputation and make Borat even more popular."
  • Sean Alfano

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