This blog prides itself in helping the avid follower of Iran-related issues to understand the bigger picture. For try as it may, day-to-day coverage has its limitations – that’s why the media needs our help. Scanning the globe (in several languages), it appears that something’s up in German-speaking Europe – and we believe the media has missed it.
Tehran is allegedly exploiting Austrian banks to bypass sanctions. Deutsche Bank is under investigation for breaking sanctions. German-Iranian trade is booming. An Austrian and German (who called sanctions “stupid,” as was reported in the German-language press) were among a mere five European Parliament members who insisted on visiting Iran two weeks ago – before Tehran cancelled on them. A Der Spiegel report has highlighted Germany as a “focal point of procurement” for Iran’s nuclear program. According to The Washington Post, the vast majority of the 20,000 tourists who visit Iran for non-religious reasons come from Germany (or China). And Switzerland (admittedly not an EU member state) is reportedly pushing back on sanctions.
Of course, none of these are ostensibly “government” activities – and to be fair, both the German and Austrian governments have been clear on their support for strengthening sanctions. Nevertheless, is it possible they are conveying mixed signals?
Consider this: A German parliamentary delegation that refused to take its cue from the EP delegation and went ahead with its plans to visit Iran, met inter alia with Mohammad Javad Larijani (head of Iran’s so-called High Council for Human Rights) – the same Larijani who seemingly minutes after the departure of the UN secretary general from Iran called his special rapporteur for human rights in Iran “irrelevant“.
And what did Larijani tell the Bundestag members? He countered their human rights message by criticizing Europe for using it as “a political tool“.
Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle found time on the margins of the UN General Assembly to meet with his Iranian counterpart Ali Akhbar Salehi. This same EU-sanctioned Salehi – who a week before embraced Assad the butcher in Damascus – then chose Germany as his stop-over choice en route back to Tehran.
Reasonable to assume that Westerwelle was in the know about this.
Now, unlike in Iran, it doesn’t matter to this blog whether he’s heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, metro-sexual, or asexual. This blog however does find it incredibly hypocritical of those Germans – particularly an openly gay minister – who think that gay rights are something that should be embraced at home, while ignored abroad.
Dan Littauer’s superb article about homosexuality and homosexuals in Iran is worth a read in its entirety. He opens with this:
“The Iranian speaker of parliament equated gays with barbarism and questioned if the UN is seeking the legalization of homosexuality in his country.”
He goes on to note that:
According to a report by Mehr News Agency, Mr. Larijani shared with the audience the story of a meeting with one of the European foreign ministers, saying that, ‘one of the foreign ministers that we met with was a faggot. Now what should have we done?
‘Should we have refused to meet with them [because of their homosexuality]?
‘In the international arena, we have to pursue our national interests.’
Larijani’s comment was probably a reference to February 2011 visit by openly-gay German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, to Tehran, in which he met with Iran’s President, Ahmadinejad.
Westerwelle was widely criticized, at the time, for having not raising the plight of LGBT people in Iran in his meetings, and deliberately leaving his partner in Germany as to avoid any potential conflicts.
Despite this downright disgusting attitude towards one of Europe’s most respected leaders, Westerwelle and other politicians continue their dead-end dialoguing. As the private sector picks up this subtext from the political echelon, no wonder it’s causing an apparent spillover into Europe’s wider German-speaking sphere.
This is what the media missed. A pleasure to help!