Mina Bai

Normalizing evil

Photo by hessam nabavi on Unsplash

When you talk about Iran in the western countries, you get the impression that the country is like any other normal country, that sometimes do “bad things”. A few know there is an Iranian regime, and then the Iranian people.

Maybe it’s not entirely westerners fault. Maybe the misunderstanding has to do with the image created by the Iranian regime and its apologists in the west: a normal regime that yes, occasionally may do the odd regrettable things — but which government doesn’t do bad things every now and then? A relentless propaganda machine has been in action since the revolution of 1979 to this effect, normalizing and indeed victimizing the Iranian regime in the west.

Most faithful of all the apologists are the usual suspects, the left-wing academics and media outlets, columnists and the regime’s own foot soldiers. According to their view, the world is pretty much divided between the oppressor and the oppressed, with the United States, Israel and the west squarely in the first column, and the poor, misunderstood mullahs in the last.  That is why when you discuss Iran, the only thing they write about is a black and white, simplistic narrative of inhumane, western sanctions. Tragically enough, there is no talk about why the sanctions are in place. The regional warmongering of Iranian regime, its enormous costs on Iranian people, the brutal suppression of Iranian people if they protest, mismanagement and corruption in distribution of food and medicine by gov. officials through humane channels, none is mentioned.

In order to sell this image to the public, people can’t know about the struggles of ordinary Iranians to free themselves from the same thugs the west so often mollycoddles. That’s why, when 1500 demonstrators were shot dead on the streets in Iran in November 2019 protests, most people never heard about it, let alone saw a clip or a picture. That is why when the number of victims was published by Reuters, the New York Times’s hopelessly biased Iran reporter, Farnaz Fassihi, protested against the high number on Twitter. She, along with Negar Mortazavi, another Iranian regime shill, questioned Reuters about the “source”. Yet the same reporter is forever churning out stuff about Iran without revealing her own sources. Funny, that.

During the protests, the regime shut down the internet. I and many Iranians begged the CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour to be the voice of Iranians on twitter. What did she do? She made a report about over-privileged Iranian Americans in US who couldn’t see their remote families because of Trump’s Muslim ban! And where were the European correspondents situated in Iran? As per usual, they were silence, mostly worried about their visas not being cancelled by the Iranian authorities. The only thing they usually report on is the lavish lives in the rich North Teheran areas, Tehran’s Park avenue, while also forgetting to mention that some of those enjoying the most lavish of all tend to work for the regime.

Meanwhile, my newsfeed on Twitter each day is filled with the pictures and bios of 1,500 slain demonstrators from the November 2019 protests. Young, innocent and poor Iranians who took to the street solely to protest peacefully and ended up with a bullet in their chest or their head. The videos of their mothers and fathers gathered around their graves. Their relatives telling the activists how they had to pay big amount of money to the government agents to get the body of their loved one released from the morgues. Some relatives even arrested and thrown in jail for talking openly about their loved one’s fate. Thousands and thousands of Iranians in jail simply for speaking up. We are talking about a nation resisting. Not just a few activists that talk to a few activists in the west.

It is time to challenge the leftwing newspapers, media outlets trying to portray Iran’s rulers as legitimate rulers suffering under the sanctions alongside people of Iran, and to take the side of the parents and families of these regime victims — those who beg the US to not succumb to the regime’s demand without any pre-conditions. Because money empowers the regime and its suppression machine.

No other country has had so many uprisings in the course of 42 years. A couple of months after Khomeini came on power, on 8. March 1979, thousands of Iranian women came to streets to say No to compulsory hijab. In the 80’s it was the lefty’s turn to rise and be butchered. Thousands of them were massacred. In 1999, it was students’ turn, the so called Kuye Daneshgah massacre. In 2009, it was the turn for ordinary Iranians and middle class to come to streets and be butchered in the aftermath of rigged election; the so-called green revolution. Then it was the turn for poor and underprivileged people of Iran to come to streets in 2017 and 2019 protests. One of the people who was punished for such participation was the young champion wrestler Navid Afkari, who was tortured into making false confession and then hanged.

In 2020, in an effort to attack US bases in Iraq in retaliation for slain General Soleimani, Iran launched missiles attacks at night that hit a passenger Ukrainian plane near Tehran airport. One hundred and seventy-six innocent passengers died, most of them Iranians on their way to Canada. Initially, the Iranian authorities denied the incident, until they couldn’t any longer.  Fifteen months on, they still haven’t come up with an explanation, much less an apology. Meanwhile, the details of what happened to these victims, how their families were treated and pressured by the regime is gruesome. The Ukrainian authorities are now threatening to take it to the international court in Netherland, but where do relatives of those killed go for justice?  If the plane, God forbid, had been shot down by Americans, you would hear about it till your ears fell off. Every picture of every innocent passenger would be carved into your head by western media. But 176 passengers blown out of the sky by the Iranian government? Nah, no big deal.

A revolutionary ideological government that wants to export its “Islamic revolution” to the neighboring countries, and already has succeed to turn Middle East to a sectarian battleground, dragging on wars in Yemen, Syria, splitting Lebanon by way of Hizbollah, and Iraq, is not a normal government. A government that wants to wipe Israel off the map is not normal. A government that kills its own people, hangs them for slightest criticism, arrest people for drinking or partying, beats women up for not wearing a hijab, and has reduced women’s rights to the bottom rung of any survey on the subject, is not a normal government.

The stories of thousands of ordinary Iranians suffering at the hand of this regime deserve to be told. It is time to clearly show the separation between the bloodthirsty theocratic government in Iran, and the actual people of Iran, because no one is more suffering than Iranians themselves under this regime, the same regime that peddles the lie that the coronavirus was manufactured in the west and refused Iranians Corona vaccines made in the west. The night before typing these words, I read that around 160 Iranians died of Covid. Iran is experiencing the fourth wave of mutated Corona but nobody in authority particularly cares. Yet in the western media, everything from women’s situation to shortage of Corona vaccines are pinned solely on the sanctions of evil west.

Iranian people are silenced on the streets out of fear, but the west shouldn’t allow that silence to be exploited by the regime’s grinding propaganda machine as some kind of collective consent. A majority of Iranians are dissatisfied with the regime. Many will tell you so on social media. Recently the campaign “No to Islamic republic” went viral on social media. Iranians from all walks of life say “No to the Islamic Republic”. It is time to come find Iranian people on social media, the only place they somehow can express themselves.(Unfortunately some will be arrested for even doing that too). The regime already has a voice (and if that is not enough, the majority of regime officials are also on social media!)

Most of all, It is time to use the D-word and call Iran the horrible dictatorship it is, a dictatorship run by Islamist savages subsisting on empty revolutionary slogans and murderous appetites extreme by any civilized political standard. These are the people who imbibe the blood of the Iranian people, while also running the economy and the beautiful country into the ground. That is the real story of Iran.

About the Author
Iranian-Nowegian author writing about Middle East-Iran. I write for the Norwegian newspaper Nettavisen.
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