Monday, November 19, 2007

A beacon of Islamic democracy

At least, that's what the BBC says of Iran:

Is Iran becoming a regional superpower, capable of withstanding pressures from the West and providing a beacon of Islamic democracy? Or, is her obstinacy with the nuclear issue going to lead to her further isolation and potential destruction?
Note that the word "or" is not followed by the alternative, that Iran is neither a beacon nor properly democratic. Just obstinate. And again:
Iran is, within narrow limits, a kind of democracy.

President Ahmadinejad won his election fairly, even though no-one who opposed the basic structures of the Islamic Republic was permitted to stand.
Still democratic. That's good. But mustn't oppose the basic structures, eh? What are they like?
Iran's constitution, ... gives the unelected religious leadership greater powers than those of the elected president.
All these quotes come from or trail content produced by John Simpson.

So, what's it like in this beacon of Islamic democracy? How is life for, ooh let's say a 21 year old woman who is:
... very much involved in teaching literacy to the poor and especially to the women in villages and used to hold celebrations for those women who overcame addiction in the ‘Azarmehr” association. The association provides the means for battered and addicted women to over ride their problems.

Hana and her friend Ronak Safar Zadeh, had set up collections to support destitute women.
Hana Abdi also got involved with a petition calling for improved women's rights in Iran. So, what's life like for a fine, philanthropic and democratically engaged young woman like that?
Hana Abdi, a 21 year old student of Sanandaj University was abducted from her grandfathers’ house by the Intelligence Ministry agents a couple of days ago and her were about is unclear, says her mother.
No reason has been given for the arrest.

But let's not be judgemental. Arbitrary arrest by a theocratic, sorry, democratic state of a young humanitarian is no grounds for criticism. Ask the Stop the War campaign::
I know Yassmine Mather [a critic of the Iranian regime], who is mentioned in the Independent article. I have known her from some earlier campaigns seven years ago, in the aftermath of the student uprising in Iran. She is a committed Socialist and definitely against any military intervention in Iran. If Stop the War Coalition refuses her to join the 'coalition' [on the grounds that she is a critic of the Iranian regime], then it really goes to show that the group's true agenda is nothing other than keeping the Ayatollahs in power.
I don't suppose Ms Abdi can be feeling much enthusiasm for the rule of the Ayatollahs. Nor is the expat Iranian blogger Azarmehr, from whom this information is gained. He is facing the prospect right now of seeing the country he loves bombed, with the possible effect of entrenching the Ayatollahs in power, knowing that people like Hana will be among the victims, as much as will members of the Revolutionary Guard. And there might be, there just might be another way:
Well for those who have consistently defended the Islamic Republic and turned a blind eye on the human rights abuses by the religious dictatorship in Iran, and repeatedly played down the potential of the pro-democracy movement in Iran, here are photos from the students at Alameh University today protesting against the arrests and expulsions of their student colleagues. The pro-democracy movement in Iran despite all the obstacles in its way is still alive and kicking, it just needs more help and publicity.
Click through for the images.

I consider it a privilege to make a minuscule contribution to providing some of this publicity. And I consider it an outrage and a humiliation that my tax money, through the television licence fee, is used by the BBC for the exact opposite purpose: that of deliberately and deceitfully minimising the horrors of the Iranian regime, painting a theocracy in the colours of democracy, under-reporting the immense courage and sacrifice of ordinary young Iranians like Haha Abdi, making the success of the pro-democracy students and campaigners less likely, confirming the Iranian regime in their belief that a compliant and cowardly West will watch them build nuclear missiles and very likely use them to attack our great but under-valued and sorely defamed friend among nations, Israel, and thereby making the likelihood of an attack to prevent this happening, by some country with a bit of spine, like Israel or the USA, far far greater.

Thus does the BBC betray the likes of Hana once by failing to report their campaigns, twice by failing to report their arrests, and the third time by doing everything they can to add the threat of military attack to their worries.


patrick vidaud said...

Nice one. It is disgusting and embarassing to hear the Today programme fawn over the ayatollahs and describe their tyranny as a democracy. Iran is as democratic as Stalinist Russia; to stand for election you have to be a muslim and not only that but a muslim approved by an unelected junta of clerics. The BBC needs to stop disgracing us and itself and start reporting Iran truthfully and that means, amongst other things, giving coverage to the brave people in Iran who are opposing the tyrants.

Anonymous said...

Iran can turn into a prosperous democracy if correct reforms are made to its economic system from an oil-selling lazy nation to a productive one. As long as Iran has oil money within a government controlled economy those who have it don't need people's support and will do what they want whether they are relegious,secular,progressive,conservative etc.

Peter Risdon said...

Rodman, you're right: oil corrupts.