Taha A. Lemkhir
A voice from Morocco

Ayatollah’s “aesthetic surgeries” in the West

There is an Arabic proverb that states: A lion on me and an ostrich in war.

In that, Iranians are masters of disguise and double standards. It’s a new kind of diplomacy that derive from an old Islamic concept called “Taqiya” or deceit.

When they come to vetting who’s going to represent them in the international community, they do not do it randomly, it’s an experience they have acquired long ago, dating back to the days of khomaeini’s stay in the sleepy village of Neauphle-le-Château near Paris.

To put an end to a 2500-year-old civilization and start a new era of Islamist governance, Ayatollah Khomeini had to choose people who speak the language of the west and know exactly what to say and what to avoid saying. At the time he picked a troika composed of secular, well read men: Bani-Sadr, Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, Ibramhim Yazdi, who presented him to the Western press as an open-minded reformist who doesn’t mind that a woman preside a government, while his ideological discourse and speeches to the Iranians —largely distributed in Iran through cassettes— were transmitting the most retrograde misogynist and radical views.

Light and shade:

However, after forty years now, the Ayatollahs are completely exposed. They cannot choose a westernized secular or leftist figures who wear ties to speak on their behalf to the Western media. Instead they resorted to something quite intriguing—projecting weakness and harmlessness.

Typically they choose people with special characteristics. Actors who give a strong impression of innocence at first glance; those who you might think they wouldn’t hurt a fly. Physically modest and with facial features that attract compassion and a sense of benevolence; which stands in stark contrast to the regime notorious actors in the region and inside Iran. Those who appear in the Iranian and Arab media are meant to reflect strength, determination, and sometimes ferociousness with a touch of a mystical look and gesticulations, maybe a slight celestial smile inherited from the Khomeinian style.

Looking at the permanent representative of Iran at the United Nation giving comments to the media on the situation with the US, one cannot ignore the feelings this diplomat was trying to convey as someone who suffers from great grievances and is about to be shattered by a natural merciless disaster called Trump at the drop of a hat. When one hear their low-pitched voices can’t help but say with the French “Chapeau!.” Is this the same Iran that its supreme leader  promises the annihilation of a state of more than eight million soul? Or does the friendly smile of Mr. Zarif (the coolest foreign minister ever) reflects this shocking reality?

Of course this diplomacy of commiseration that Iranian officials outside Iran perform is not presented to Iranian people who are only familiar with brazen giants postures and proud holy warriors like General Qassem Sulaimani and the rest of the clique whom their duty is to come out with rabid statements that confirm—to their surrogates and fans in the region— that they are the representatives of the invincible divine power on earth.

It’s pretty much akin to that vicious professional beggar who wield a tremendous influence and inflict an aura of fear and havoc inside his house against his wife and children, while at the moment he steps out of the house he wear an outright different face.

Image-making propaganda:

Look at the image they have produced for Hassan Nasrallah lately. They took good care of his appearance especially his overindulged beard that tells a lot about the special treatment it receives from a fine barber. No less than a Hollywood movie star when we compare it to older Hassan of early 2000s. The difference is rather impressive. But That also shows the influence of the popular historical propagandist soap opera shows produced by the Iranian film industry that glorifies Shiite Jihad woriors with their stylish turbans and impressive soft and shiny beards that Hassan is literally assimilating. Hizbullah affiliates would make an unconscious connection between the historical drama movies and their current religious political leaders mixing fiction with nonfiction.

In a recent interview , the CNN chief international anchor, Christiane Amanpour, hosted a senior Iranian official, and again the same pattern popped up; a humble, shy, peace-loving man, who avoids eye contact, and who seems unable to grasp why Americans want to wage war against his peace-loving regime. However, Amanpour with all her competence didn’t fall short of the target, and kept putting words in her interlocutor’s mouth whenever he failed to deliver the “right” answers and arguments that would eat away the Trump administration rationale for sanctioning Iran. That was so professionally performed that I almost forgot about the execution cranes standing like art statues across the public squares of Tehran Tabriz and Isfahan.

But the question that kept resounding in my head was: how such fascinating enlightened people— who studied in the most prestigious colleges and universities in the West under prominent humanist philosophers, artists and human rights champions, who emerged from the lights of liberalism and knew the value of freedom and the curse of Dark Age doctrines— can allow themselves to stand by an Islamist mafia that vehemently raises the flags of savagery and medievalism and vows openly to destroy the modern civilization?

Surely they find ways to justify their absolute contradictions; the dissonance between the form and content, the indifference to moral virtues and what’s right and just.

Hitler’s SS found somehow their way to live a quiet and happy family life, to play with their children like genuine loving fathers, to go to cinemas and watch romantic movies, to attend parties attired in smart suits and acting like real civilized gentlemen, to play the finest moving pieces of classical music, to feel sorrow for an ailing friend or a loss of a family member —all the while they were systematically gassing and burning alive millions of innocent children of the same age of their own sons and daughters, and helpless old fellows of the age of their fathers. How can’t Amanpour who is proud of her slogan “truthful but not neutral” fails to find her own self-relieving arguments to whitewash the image of similar barbarism?

About the Author
Taha Lemkhir is a Moroccan writer and photographer. Degree in Arabic literature and Islamic studies. Critic of Islamism. languages: Arabic, English and Spanish. He Lived part of his life as an Islamist— until enlightenment flashed through his heart.
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