The world is in mourning over the deadly attacks that killed at least 120 people in France on Friday. Horrified reactions and condolences keep pouring in from celebrities and world leaders – including the Iranian leadership, which was quick to blast the “scourge” (or, in Rouhani’s own words on Twitter, “evils”) of terrorism as a “crime against humanity” which contravenes “any type of divine religions – including Islam.”
But Iran’s reaction to the attacks did not end there. On Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s decided to cancel a planned visit to Italy and France (just as well, as Paris had canceled Rouhani’s dinner with Francois Hollande after he demanded a halal meal – without wine), while Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s decided to attend talks in Vienna on the Syrian issue and the threat of extremism.
Iran’s reaction was reported in the English-language press verbatim, sans criticism – indeed, it was considered highly newsworthy, with several articles being devoted this weekend to the denouncement of the attack by Muslims and Muslim leaders. But is it really that simple? Not when it comes to Iran. On social media, for example, some tweets were quick to pick up on the hypocrisy inherent in Tehran’s condemnation of terrorism, with one user even remarking that Rouhani’s tweet on the “evils of terrorism” was “priceless, coming from a terrorist-supporting douchebag” (his words, not ours!).
Forgotten was the news of the week before, in which it was reported that Bahrain had arrested 47 (!) members of what was suspected to be an Iranian terrorist cell. Forgotten was the link – which Iran itself hardly tries to hide – between Tehran and terrorism, the selective and hypocritical stance on what is considered a “crime against humanity” in one instance, and a cause worthy of support in another. Only recently, France itself reiterated that link when 70 parliamentarians demanded a policy change on Iran in light of its support for “Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthi militias in Yemen,” among other violent, murderous groups. With all this in mind, why has the press been reporting Iran’s reaction so matter-of-factly?