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August 10, 2011 12:01 am

Iran, British Riots and the Hapless Media

avatar by Dovid Efune

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Rioters in London.

To be honest, this week I had initially chosen to write about a subject that is among the most pertinent in current U.S. thought and media commentary. Partisan, divisive and all pervasive, the mere mention of the subject always elicits a strong response. The American public follows its every move and hangs on its every nuance enthralled by its ongoing progression and the latest twists and turns of its narrative. The Subject: Glenn Beck.

But then I chanced upon a headline that seemed to make all else pale in comparison. Glenn Beck will have to wait.

The headline ‘Iran Calls on Britain to Avoid Violence against Protesters,’ is as outrageous as the fact that it was carried in all seriousness by mainstream outlets including Fox News, Reuters, the Guardian and the Jerusalem Post, when the only publication that could legitimately carry this headline is the Onion. To their credit, the one publication that got it right, Sky News, entitled their story ‘Iran Uses Riots as Propaganda.’

The Iranian call follows three days of looting and violence by British youth that has yet to be quelled by the Metropolitan Police. Hundreds have been arrested, and 16,000 officers have been deployed to halt the violence. British Prime Minister David Cameron called the scenes ‘sickening’ and pledged to restore order.

In a most cynical attempt to take advantage of the situation, Iran quickly seized the opportunity to draw moral equivalency between the British situation and Iran’s brutal crackdown on human rights protesters during the ‘Green Revolution’ a few years ago.

The Iranian Fars News Agency reported that Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast urged the British police “to exercise restraint against protesters, and for the British government to start dialogue with the protesters and to listen to their demands in order to calm the situation down.” He also called on independent human rights organizations to investigate the killing of 29-year-old Mark Duggan, which sparked the first riots in London “in order to protect the civil rights and civil liberties.”

Iranian impudence went a step further when they made the ludicrous offer of “readiness to send a group of human rights rapporteurs to Britain to assess the conditions after the British security forces staged a violent clampdown.”

“The Islamic Consultative Assembly (the parliament) announces its readiness to send a human rights delegation to Britain to study human rights violations in the country,” Foreign Policy Commission Deputy Head Hossein Ebrahimi told FNA on Tuesday, he continued, “We urge the British government and the regime’s embassy in Tehran to provide the ground for the presence… and avoid making unreal excuses.”

Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels famously said, “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.” Iran has played like a virtuoso.

This incident is yet another strong example of how intimately Iran understands the moral relativist mindset that is pervasive throughout the Western world and the extent to which the media can be manipulated. For Iran this is an ongoing endeavor, as I have highlighted other examples in the past.

Although it is likely that many people will see right through this ploy, it is also possible that others around the world will not. The seeds of doubt will be planted in the mind of many who may think, ‘hang on, why are we any different from them?” This is especially the case when respected media outlets propagate this perverse fallacy.

The unfortunate result of this jackhammer propaganda is that it ebbs away at our society’s collective resolve to effectively deal with the greatest threat to global security; Iran’s international campaign of belligerency.

This instance serves as yet another stark wakeup call for global leaders to cast aside the ever manipulated mood of morally relativist thought and set out clear and consistent principles. If there is ever a cause for regulating media, it is to ban the regurgitation of Iranian tripe.

The Author is the director of the Algemeiner Journal and the GJCF and can be e-mailed

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  • Robert Smith

    Iran’s game is also played ad nauseam by Israeli media and political commentators who try to draw parallels between treatment of Israel compared to other countries.
    Iran made itself look foolish, just as Israelis do when they play this childish game.

  • P. Oliviera

    Yet another feeble attempt to paper over Western hypocrisy. If it were the Iranian authorities trying to quell a band of violently rampaging youths, I have no doubt that western reaction would have called on Iran to halt “political repression” against “peaceful pro democracy” protesters. The so called “international community” would have by now issued a statement condemning Iran and arrogantly asking it to “behave”. Perhaps Downing Street would have even asked the rioters’ representatives to take over Teheran’s embassy in London as the “legitimate representatives of Iran”.

    Western media consistenly put a political spin on police reaction to protests in countries deemed “unfriendly” to their interests but ridicule legitimate attempts to hold them to the “standards” they expect of others. Of course, stricter standards are expected from Libya and Iran than from Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. In the case of Israel, no standards are even expected at all. This is not a “pervasive fallacy” as you erroneously state.

    Israeli brutalities occur daily in the occupied territories, the US invaded Iraq on a false pretext, Tripoli is being bombed back to the stone age by NATO (to protect civilians!!)and it is “belligerent” Iran that is the greatest threat to global security? This is a typical example of a western commentator uncritically parroting the western official viewpoint as regards Iran and is quite outraged that a supposedly dangerous Iran must be given a voice in “respected” media outlets.

    These “respected” media often do not have the gall to question Western foreign policy and it is this conscious self-censorship and mindless deference to political power (by the likes of Rupert Murdoch’s Sky) that define these “respected media”.

    Sky’s description of Iran’s statement amply illustrates the often pitiful connivance between power and corporate media, with the media willfully serving as appendages of those they are supposed to continually scrutinise and hold to account. Why didn’t they just report the statement dispassionately and await an official response from Government? By claiming that Iran was using the riots for propaganda, they were, in essence, responding to Iran on behalf of Government and, therefore, betraying the same sycophancy they and their ilk gleefully ascribe to the media in so called “rogue states”.

    The Iranians have every right to issue a statement on the riots in the UK and the author’s real outrage, I suspect, is not that the statement was reported in other media, but that the statement exposes western foreign policy for what it is at its core: riddled with double standards and reeking of sickening hypocrisy.

    • brit

      This is the biggest pile of clap trap I have ever heard. And clearly shows up that you haven’t even been watching the news, or that foreign media doesn’t have any idea of what’s actually going on here.

      I’m not sure what all these comparisons to ‘peaceful pro democracy protests’ are. These are not protests against anything. There is no political motivation behind these riots. These are a bunch of criminal youths (and people caught up in the wave) going out to get a free flat screen TV.

      If the police were being heavy-handed, this would not be suppression of democracy, simply strict enforcement of the law. Now that’s IF the police were being heavy handed. In fact, our police are a wet organisations, caught up in pc-mania, and incapable of doing anything without fear that they will lose their jobs or worse, go to jail for trying to their jobs. That’s why they ended up sitting there, having petrol bombs lobbed at them whilst people’s shops were looted and houses burned.

      As an aside (which is exactly what it is, as I don’t really see how you managed to drag Israel into this…) the british media, which you clearly have no experience of, are extremely critical of Israel, despite the way the clear hypocrisy this demonstrates.

      In conclusion, nice try at sounding really clever, without actually having any idea what you are talking about.

  • mehr

    Do you want to say that human rights have different meanings in western and non western countries? Do you really believe that western countries may behave their citizens as they wish and do not expect any objection? Do you think poor British young men and women who are frustrated of Queen-Democracy which brought nothing but unemployment social discrimination, foreign intervention, killing of innocent people all over the world so on, should keep silence and do not even have the right to ask British politicians of the logic behind wasting their national dignity and wealth?

  • ha

    Why so upset????

    The west incites chaos in other countries through its paid agents to create riots and Chaos in the name of freedom and then when such chaos is suppressed the West starts propaganda against the unfriendly govts., so as to topple them and bring their thugs into power…

    The real Natzi propaganda lies in suppression of desent in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia etc.., or in blacking out the NEWS of daily Palestinian abuse…

    This is the beginning of the time that days of such tyrany of Media are over.

    At least Iran is not known to be paying these British thugs to cause this chaos…

    Sorry chief, it is time to be fair and balanced … difficult for you!!!???