Christmas and the New Year is a good time to take stock of the Media coverage regarding Iran’s treatment of minorities. This coverage can be divided into several types.
First, there’s the prejudiced coverage, that tries to portray Iran’s treatment of minorities favorably. Unsurprisingly, this type of coverage is found mainly in the Iranian press, as well as pro-Iranian regime entities.
Then, there’s critical coverage, that calls Tehran out on mistreatment of minorities of all types – be they ethnic, religious, or political – as well as women, homosexuals and others who are not supporters of the ideology of Iran’s Islamic revolution and regime. The British Guardian is a good example of this type. It was one of the few that dared to predict a new wave of repression due to the nuclear deal, and in the most recent dispute between Iran and Saudi Arabia, it dared to put the numbers in context.
And then, there’s the silent majority – that fail to take a firm stand and highlight the severity of Iran’s violations of minority rights, focusing instead on other topics – and painting a misleading picture of (minority) life in Iran by allowing Tehran’s propaganda machine to churn out tales of its “pluralism” and “generosity” unimpeded.
A good example is the most recent release from prison, after 5 years and 74 lashes, of Iranian Christian pastor Farshid Fathi, just before Christmas. The upsetting stories, on the arrest of Christians and punishment and beating of converts on Christmas Eve, only appeared on right-wing or denominational news outlets such as Breitbart or Christian Post.
With the new year upon us, it’s time to echo the call voiced in The New York Post this holiday season, urging the West (and, we add, its media) to take stock of the plight of Iran’s minorities and bring it to light by actively shattering the rosy portrait Iran has painted of itself as a “champion” of minority rights. Because even if Iran tries to present itself as “pluralistic and accommodating,” the dozens of Christians who languish in its prisons – including American-Iranian Saeed Abedini, sent to Evin Prison for “undermining national security” – would testify otherwise.