The Lies We Tell: Iran and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Iran, a country with a track record of murder and abuse towards its citizens, and a famed sponsor of terror in the Middle East and other parts of the western world, has taken its hate to a new level.

Anyone who wants to visit Iran is asked two questions upon admission: Are you Jewish and are you gay. That the Islamic Republic has a deep hate for Jews and Israel, is a fact that no one can dispute. Shortly after the revolution of 1979, many prominent Jews were taken prisoner, tortured and murdered, only to have their bodies tossed into the street for their family’s taking.  Much of their wealth was confiscated, families separated and forced to escape throughout the world. This is a personal story for me and my family.

But knowing all of this did nothing to lessen my shock at the latest news out of Tehran.

Ayatollah Abbas Tabrizian wrote on his social media account:

“Don’t go near those people who have had the COVID vaccine, they have become homosexuals.”

The statement at first glance seems too absurd to be truth. But sadly, Tabrizian, who is critical of western medicine is not joking. Conspiracy theories are an interesting thing. They tend to gain momentum rather quickly and have a life of their own when a people or country is facing fear, pain, or economic hardship. Which makes me wonder if the Iranian government is having a mass shortage of the vaccine, and has therefore resorted to lies. Could this latest lie be it the clergy’s way of decreasing demand for the vaccine, while they themselves are lining up to get their own shots?

Recently, Iran started a hate campaign, blaming the origin of the Corona Virus on Israel. The government started #COVID1948, as a reference to the year that Israel was created, spreading lies and hate about the Jewish homeland.

With few clicks of a button, Tabrizian has not only inflated prejudice and hate towards the already scared and abused gay community of Iran, but is also placing doubt about a much-needed vaccine to help save the lives of its citizens. In one sweep, he has combined scientific ignorance with a crude appeal towards homophobia. The Islamic Republic has executed between 4,000-6,000 gays and lesbians since taking power from the Shah back in 1979.

In the past, Iran’s foreign ministry has deferred its execution of gay people, stating, “our society has moral principles and we live according to these principles. These are moral principles concerning the behavior of people in general. And that means that the law is respected and the law is obeyed.” The Iranian gay community basically operates underground, and those who are infected with HIV keep the illness to themselves, the disease carrying much taboo with it.

Back in January of 2019, a thirty-one-year-old man was publicly hanged as a way to place fear and shame into anyone who might veer away from the moral codes set by the regime. Since 2019 gay men have been hung publicly in large numbers, the country sending a strong message that homosexuality is illegal.

By weaving lies about the vaccine, the county is again placing propaganda ahead of the lives of its citizens. Even if one person buys into the slander and the scare-campaign generated by the bigoted clergy, a crime has been committed. To say that the vaccine could somehow change a person’s sexual identity, thus influencing one’s decision about receiving the shot, is a crime. The bigoted, offensive and outrageous lies spewed by this cleric, which have not been negated by other leaders, could quite possibly put the lives of thousands of Iranian citizens in danger. The coronavirus has so far infected over 1.4 million people in Iran and killed more than 58,000.

At a time when there is much fear around the newly developed vaccine every world leader has the duty to do what he or she can to alleviate the concerns of their people. While many heads of states across the world are showcasing their confidence in the success of the vaccine by taking the shot on national television, Tabrizian is heading the opposite way. Tabrizian should be called out for who he is – a fear monger and a bigot who has no value for the sanctity of life. And if the clergy in Iran have no value for the lives of their own citizens, how much less so for the citizens of the world, especially The United States and Israel.

The lack of knowledge and lack of humanity is something that should outrage anyone who has a mission of working with this country.

In early January, Iran unveiled an underground base for “strategic missiles” on its Gulf coastline. A video has surfaced of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard touring what appears to be a long underground tunnel lined with missiles and missile launchers. The bases included launching pads for long-range missiles that have a precision range of hundreds of kilometers. Why is this relevant? When a country has the means to create advanced weapons of warfare, certainly with no good intentions, it should perhaps consider using some of those funds in purchasing the much-needed lifesaving vaccines, as opposed to reciting lies and architecting unnecessary hype. The priority of the Iranian government is not the lives of its citizens, but a way to build itself arms weapons, and put fear in Israeli citizens, as well as those living in the west.

Iran, a country who is a prime danger to the existence of Israel must be stopped. Not only is Iran a true evil and danger to world peace, and the existence of Israel, it does not care about the lives of anyone who does not follow the law as they see fit – even its own innocent citizens.

About the Author
Aylin Sedigh grew up in Shiraz, Iran. She immigrated to the United States at the age of twelve. She is passionate about raising awareness about Mizrahi Jews and their trials and triumphs. Her goal is to open the conversation about the sacrifices that Mizrahi Jews had to make in order to survive the oppressions of the governments which they lived under.
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