What does freedom of speech really mean? While living in Iran, I tried as hard as I could to hide my Jewishness. This was especially true while I was at school. No Jew ever wore any jewelry containing Hebrew letters, and never, under any circumstances spoke about Israel. When the teacher talked about the alleged atrocities of the only Jewish State in the world and the only democracy in the Middle East, I listened quietly, burning on the inside. From a young age, I learned to be a fly on the wall. I learned that I had to go along with the propaganda The Estate endorsed, in hopes of living in peace. For me, and thousands of others like me, to speak your mind meant the difference between life and death.
Just this past weekend, Iranian journalist Mohammad Mosaed was detained by Turkish border patrol as he tried to escape The Country of his citizenship. Mosaed, an outspoken, investigative journalist, was sentenced to four years of jail time in Iran, which was set to begin early this week.
Mohammad Mosaed is accused by The hateful Government of colluding against national security and spreading propaganda against the system. These are fairly strong charges and should certainly be taken seriously. But are they truly what they seem at first sight? The capture of Mosaed has sparked panic amongst freedom of expression advocates who fear for this young man’s life. As they should. If the Turkish government does decides to send Mosead back to Iran, no doubt his days will be numbered.
Back in 2018, The government of Iran had just announced a hike to gas prices, a fact that enraged the citizens of the oil-rich country. Peaceful protestors took to the street, demanding lower prices and higher quality of life. In response to the unexpected marches, the Government deliberately shut down the internet for the entire country. It was yet another way that The Mullah’s hoped to shut off The Country’s citizens from the rest of the world, limit freedom of expression and freedom of mass assembly. The County, notorious for its human rights violations, hoped to also hide the true scale of the unlawful killings that took place by the security forces to stop the protests. All in all, about 304 innocent people were killed by the armed police.
During this time, Journalist and computer hackers worked in a frenzy, trying to send an SOS to the rest of the world, hoping to sound the alarm on the barbaric acts of their government.
One young journalist wrote:
“Knock, Knock. Hello free world! I used 42 different proxies to write this. Millions of Iranians don’t have internet. Do you hear us?”
The author of that message was Mohammad Mosaed. I can feel the agony, fear and desperation in Mosaed’s message. His daring plea, like the dim light of a lighthouse, hoped to catch the attention of anyone who might look his way. I can honestly say that I am ashamed to call myself an Iranian in times such as this. Stories like Mosaed’s are not uncommon. In December of 2020 dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam was hanged, announced guilty of “corruption on earth”. The crime is one that does not specify an actual crime but is sometimes used by the Iranian Government for alleged attempts to overthrow the government. Iran is a regime that has mastered the art of combining the role of the judge, the jury and the executioner
What the Iranian Government fails to understand is that as hard as it might, the voices of those seeking freedom and justice will never be silenced. A government – or entity, private or public – that strives to quiet the opinions of the masses only creates an ever-stronger sense of indignation.
When I look forward to the next four years, under The Biden Administration, I hope that the new leadership will take the atrocities’ that Iran has committed into consideration before attempting to forge any ties with That Government. My hope is this new administration realized any attempt at normalizing relations with Iran would means giving a stamp of approval to a regime that has continued to torture and kill thousands of Muslims, Baha’is and Jewish citizens over the past forty or so years. And A country that does not have any respect for human life, is one that does not deserve recognition.