Sunday, February 11, 2007

Western media and mullahs

Kash Kheirkhah

Shahbanou (Empress) Farah Pahlavi, former queen of Iran, sat down with VOA Persian service yesterday on the eve of the 28th anniversary of the revolution that led to the downfall of her husband, the late Shah of Iran, and brought an Islamic fundamentalist regime to power.

At one point during the interview, Shahbanou criticized the Western media for being unfairly harsh on her husband while uncharacteristically kind to the mullahs, saying "our government was like a clean sheet on which the tiniest black spot was magnified beyond all proportion whereas mullahs' has been like a black sheet on which even the tiniest white spot is considered as positive."

Although most Western media have been harshly critical of the mullahs' regime in Iran, the empress does have a point. Look at the following excerpts from Newsweek's cover story on Iran published today and also my explanations in parentheses to find out why:

Newsweek-Rumors of War

by Michael Hirsh and Maziar Bahari

February 12, 2007

-Jalal Sharafi was carrying a videogame, a gift for his daughter, when he found himself surrounded. On that chilly Sunday morning, the second secretary at the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad had driven himself to the commercial district of Arasat Hindi to checkout the site for a new Iranian bank...

(Humanizing an Iranian Ministry of Information agent who has trained and worked in Lebanon before being sent to Iraq and could even have a hand in attacks against US troops in Iraq.)

NW-The Iranians have reason to feel paranoid. In recent weeks senior American officers have condemned Tehran for providing training and deadly explosives to insurgents...

(First of all, what reason do Iranian military and information agents have to be in Iraq in the first place?)

NW-The secret history of the Bush administration's dealings with Iran is one of arrogance, mistrust and failure...

(Meaning nothing has ever been wrong on the side of Tehran's regime. It's all Bush's fault.)

NW-Mohammad Hossein Adeli was one of only two deputies on duty at the Foreign Ministry when the attacks took place, late on a sweltering summer afternoon. He immediately began contacting top officials, insisting that Iran respond quickly. "We wanted to truly condemn the attacks but we also wished to offer an olive branch to the United States, showing we were interested in peace," says Adeli. To his relief, Iran's top official, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, quickly agreed. "The Supreme Leader was deeply suspicious of the American government," says a Khameini aide whose position does not allow him to be named. "But [he] was repulsed by these terrorist acts and was truly sad about the loss of the civilian lives in America." For two weeks worshipers at Friday prayers even stopped chanting "Death to America."

(This is absolutely wrong and a pathetic effort by the Iranian officials as always to exploit the naive foreign media. The Iranian leadership was scared to death after 9/11. That's why they didn't chant death to America and wasted no time to condemn the attacks. But when the young Iranians tried to stage a candle light vigil for the victims of the 9/11 attack, the Iranian police used force to disperse them. Khamenei represents an ideology that labels Westerners as "infidels" and considers the Western culture as the greatest menace to fundamentalist Islam. Khamenei doesn't have the slightest human feelings left in him to feel sad for the loss of life, not just on American soil, but even in his own country. Just look at all the anger and hate in his face when he makes speeches.)

NW-The Iranian team's leader, Javad Zarif, was a good-humored University of Denver alumnus with a deep, measured voice, who would later become U.N. ambassador. Jim Dobbins, Bush's first envoy to the Afghans, recalls sharing coffee with Zarif in one of the sitting rooms, poring over a draft of the agreement laying out the new Afghan government. "Zarif asked me, 'Have you looked at it?' I said, 'Yes, I read it over once'," Dobbins recalls. "Then he said, with a certain twinkle in his eye: 'I don't think there's anything in it that mentions democracy. Don't you think there could be some commitment to democratization?' This was before the Bush administration had discovered democracy as a panacea for the Middle East. I said that's a good idea."...

(So the idea of the democratization of the Middle East belongs to Mr Zarif not Mr Bush! How interesting! Islamic Republic officials interested in a commitment to democratization! That's news to me as an Iranian!)

Ladies and Gentelmen of the Western media, this kind of reporting is an insult to our intelligence. It will score no points for you with the Iranian regime. The mullah regime will use these very same reports in its own media to legitimize itself in the eyes of its public. This is not true journalism. This is appeasing an illegitimate, inhumane regime and by so doing, you are only doing them a favor not the Iranian people.

How is that you grill your own officials but then cozy up to mullahs? Isn't it disgusting that after all the Islamic regime has done to you in the past 28 years, one of your politicians bend over back wards in Davos to score a photo-op with the former Iranian president who in 2000, out of the fear of being reprimanded by Khamenei, hid in the washroom in order to avoid shaking hands with President Clinton in the UN?

Just like you I'm against the US invading Iran but you, as journalists in the free world, and I, as an Iranian dissident, don't have to deviate from our moral principles and cozy up to mullahs to make a case against the war.