It has not been the best of weeks for Thomas Erdbrink and his reporting on Iran.
First of all, his misleading and inaccurate piece on Iran’s ‘drug war’ (see my previous post), and now a report – that while balanced in appearance, misses out the most important elements of the Iranian press/propaganda and the very rationale behind the boycott.
French company, Eutelsat, and British company, Arqiva, decided to rid themselves of the Iranian stations as part of the greater EU sanctions package passed last week. It should be highlighted that Erdbrink to his credit alludes to the hypocrisy behind the Iranian outcry throughout his article:
Without mentioning Iran’s censorship of many Western media outlets, the official Iranian reaction on Wednesday was that Europe had attacked its own values of freedom of speech… In July Mr. Zarghami, who is directly appointed by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was added to a list of sanctioned individuals by the European Union over what it called “human rights violations” by his channels.
Iran, which says it is fighting a Western cultural invasion, routinely blocks the transmission of the Persian services of the Voice of America and the British Broadcasting Corporation, which it has labeled opposition channels.
Erdbrink even points out the ludicrous hypocrisy of Press Tv’s facebook petition:
A petition on Facebook, which is illegal in Iran, started by the channel, asking to keep Press TV on air in Europe, was liked by around 2,600 people as of Wednesday.
But despite his vague citation of ‘human rights violations’ and the occasional tangential balancing statement (e.g. “which is illegal Iran”), Erdbrink and others really miss the point.
This is not about the curtailment of freedom of speech; this is about blocking a platform which openly and regularly spews hatred, blatant anti-Semitism and vehement anti-Americanism.
According to the ADL report released earlier this month, the anti-Semitic themes broadcast on Press TV (operated by IRIB – Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) fall into four major categories of classic anti-Jewish conspiracy theories:
“Allegations of “False Flag” conspiracy theories, including claims that Israel and Jews masterminded the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Allegations of Zionist control over world events, with allegations that Zionists control, manipulate and exploit world events through a global Jewish conspiracy.
Allegations of “Israeli Lobby” control of the American government, including the canard that Jews “control” the government and have a disproportionate influence on policymakingand in influencing the American presidential elections.
Allegations of excessive Jewish/Zionist influence as a result of disproportionate wealth and power.”
The French have caught onto this, after the publication of numerous articles in french.irib.ir undermining the origins of the Jewish people and using old anti-Semitic motifs i.e. blaming the European financial crisis on the Jews. In fact it was the “French media regulator, the Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA) started the ball rolling and confirmed that the Iranian channels violated human rights in its transmissions. Earlier this year the EU placed the head of IRIB, Ezzatollah Zarghami, on a list of people ‘sanctioned’ again on human rights terms. Eutelsat says it is duty bound to obey the CSA. The EU, on Monday, approved new swinging sanctions on Iran covering financial transactions, trade, energy and shipping.”
Likewise, the Germans have woken up to the issue. In this anti-Semitism-report by the BUNDESTAG the following was highlighted in regard to German-IRIB:
“The “Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting” (IRIB) is broadcasting in German and in 26 other languages. At the beginning of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini made clear that the media are the basis and the instruments to export the revolutionary goals of Iran. German-speaking Iranian state media and pro-Khomeini institutions in Germany reflects the Iranian state doctrine, although the German-speaking IRIB website shows an cosmopolitan face. The reports of the German program of the state broadcaster IRIB, based in Federal-press house in Berlin, is clearly anti-Semitic. “
The Iranians are not happy. The painful irony of a state owned TV station (one of the most repressive states in the world) crying for freedom of speech is too preposterous to warrant any space in my blog.
Let’s not forget just one month ago, there was a “flurry of new anti-press actions in Iran… a jury has voted to convict a Reuters bureau chief on anti-state charges while authorities have jailed the head of the state’s official news agency, blocked Google services, and shut one reformist newspaper.”
And what about the unreal headline on the Press TV website that read:
Await the wave of op-eds from the Iranians and their lobbyists. They are furious. They have exploited our values of a free press and free speech for too long.
With this move, they have lost a propaganda tool. They have lost a platform to attack America, to attack Europe, to vehemently vilify Jews, and to spread the message of Khomeini and ‘the revolution’ across the world.
While we can say well done to Eutelsat and Arqiva, the battle has clearly just begun. Press TV has already reported that “this is a decision of Eutelsat and Arqiva and you have to ask them, it is their decision,” Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, [apparently] told Press TV. We also read that “Luxembourg-headquartered Intelsat continues to carry Iran’s TV channels, seemingly in direct violation of EU rules.”
I’ll leave you with a report that wins today’s hypocrisy prize. Apparently, today,
“Chairman of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, sent a letter to the French Ambassador in Tehran protesting the blocking of broadcasts of nine Iranian television channels and 32 radio stations from the Hot Bird satellite network. In his letter, Boroujerdi emphasized that the committee he heads calls on the French government, in the strongest of terms, to respect the principles of freedom and democracy and to immediately reconsider its illogical decision in this area.”
Iran… preaching democracy and freedom to France. Need I say more…