BBC in Black Turban

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The series of reports that were produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) foreign correspondent Martin Patience and his team from Iran and are now being broadcast by the channel, seem to serve two main purposes: One is to tell the West and the American policy makers, that the sanctions are only harming the people of Iran and not the regime, and thus they are dysfunctional.

The other is that the Trump Administration strategy of maximum pressure intended to bring Iran’s Islamist hardliners into negotiating a decent new deal that includes also abolishing its expansionist plans and its funding of terror groups across the Middle East, and to incite the oppressed Iranians against the regime—is instead making them clinging more to the Mullahs and firing up their sense of nationalism.

In his investigation, the BBC reporter appears to establish political and social facts following an unscientific pattern. When he tries to draw political conclusions or assess the Iranian public opinion with regard to the American sanctions, he would do that over a host of fleeting encounters or snap interviews with “actors” who were state-selected premeditatedly for the reporter to meet, which render them visibly worthless and unreliable.

Akin to the job done by CBS’s 60 Minutes television program (Eight days in Tehran) in the lead up to the Iranian nuclear deal, when the Obama Administration was keen on showing the world the good side of Iran and omitting the dark and barbaric reality of the regime.

In Hollywood style, the camera in a helicopter flew over the corrupted elite areas capturing the most impressive landscapes, the state-of-the-art buildings, clean streets and marvelous gardens and parks. Footage of women in western style dresses, their headscarves barely hiding their hairs, eating in American fast food restaurants and listening to pop music; Youngsters skateboarding or drawing lyrical graffiti with liberal notions, even parties and nightclubs—as a sign of the openness of the state. See, that’s not Iran the warmongers are selling you in the west!

However, that phony civilized image that the medieval theocratic regime transmits to the West through Western media (including Mr. Zarif ongoing interviews at the UN) gives misleading impressions about the general fact of what modern-day Iran really is about.

It’s where the revolutionary guard recruits the youths for Jihad in Syria, where the religious police still chase unveiled women in the streets, flog adulterers in public squares, uses Nazi methods to torture dissidents and executes homosexuals. Let alone its “great” ideological project aiming at the destruction of the Jewish state.

All that was swept under the rug, for BBC is more concerned about how to masquerade Iran’s barbaric aspects for the sake of a badly negotiated deal. In fact all signs of modernity, welfare and moderation are confined exclusively to some limited areas and social classes of Tehran aristocracy with special connections to the corrupted authorities that enable them to enjoy certain privileges and break, to a certain degree, the Islamic Republic’s Shariah-based rules.

Iran, like North Korea, is a state of propaganda par excellence, and they use these universal Western media as tools whenever they feel the need to exploit the compassion and pity of the world. The BBC is giving the Mullahs that opportunity under the pretext of providing “our audiences with rare insights from inside the country,” the British broadcaster argued in a statement. But, in reality, it isn’t only about the scoop. There is also that hidden political message that everything was shinny and going well under the nuclear deal, and now, after the US withdraw from it, we are witnessing the disastrous consequences of it.

All the more, in a recent exposé revealed by the Haffington Post website, “the BBC has agreed to conditions set by the Islamic Republic of Iran to not share reporting materials it gathers in Iran with its Persian-language channel, BBC Persian, an internal email obtained by HuffPost reveals,” the liberal magazine continues saying, “ the agreement represents a capitulation to a government that has been hostile to press freedom. The Iranian government routinely shuts down media organizations critical of the regime and imprisons, tortures and executes journalists.”

That is a clear repression of information that goes against the ethics of journalism, especially that there is more than 100 millions Persian-speaking people in the world, who may be more entitled to knowing the truth about their own country more than anyone else, especially in a place where the authoritarian regime controls and oppresses the flow of information.

The writing in Arabic reads: “I shook his hand!”

Nonetheless, this policy of differentiating between the BBC and its particularly Mideast branches in coverage spills over into the values and ideals, too. In BBC Arabic for instance, it allows its anchors and presenters to use anti-Semitic materials to appeal to one of the Arabs’ worst instinct.

Last week, journalist Giselle Khoury—a Christian Lebanese who considers Hamas as a resistance movement, and exemplifies the rare notion of “Christian Islamism” of the Levant: Those Christian pan-Arabs who succumbed to a deadly alliance with Hizbullah and praised terror groups in Gaza in high hopes that one day, upon the annihilation of Israel, they’ll pray in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre—the host of Almashhad (the scene) at BBC Arabic, posted a hateful anti-Semitic caricature on the official Twitter account of the program with total impunity.

While similar materials are unlikely to put up with in the English-language BBC or its social media platforms, the diffusion of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel discourse is uniquely appealing to the BBC Arabic staff and programs, which drives one to wonder if there is an unwritten understanding to separate the not-allowed anti-Semitism of Europe, from the very tolerated one in the Arabsphere?

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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