Creating people's geographies
The BBC in particular has been identified by a number of protesting Iranians both in the UK and Iran for misleading post-election coverage, with one such instance picked up by blogs and subsequently corrected. Iranian protesters as well as the foreign ministry have accused the BBC and Voice of America of fomenting unrest in Iran, with BBC correspondent Jon Leyne ordered out of Iran on Sunday, although the BBC office remains open.
“The heads of VOA and BBC Persian are officially the spiritual children of Netanyahu and Lieberman,” according to foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi, “and their aim is to weaken the national solidarity, threaten territorial integrity and disintegrate Iran.”
Meanwhile, while our sincere support is with the bona fide Iranian protesters and their genuine campaigns for positive change, western media coverage of the post-election protests has been playing to type. The media protocols we’ve come to know: If you’re a demonstrator against a US-backed regime (think Egypt, Israel, Georgia for example), expect little mainstream media coverage or sympathy. If you’re a demonstrator against a government which has spurned neoliberal designs or is deemed too independent, you’ve earned the corporate media tag of “pro-democracy” for a “reform” candidate.
As’ad Abu Khalil’s observations are right on the money in contrasting how courageous protesters and dissenters fare when they happen to be Palestinian and the repressive regime israeli (thanks Homey):
But the hypocrisy is quite stunning. They are admiring the dare of the population when the Palestinian population shows more dare.
They are outraged at the level of repressive crackdown by the regime when Israeli crackdowns on demonstrations are far more brutal and savage?
They are admiring the participation of women in a national movement, when Palestinian women led the struggle from as far back as the 1930s (see the private papers of Akram Zu’aytir).
They are outraged that the Iranian government is repressing media coverage, when the Israeli government is far more strict: when it was perpetrating slaughter in Gaza few months ago, the Western press was not allowed any freedom of movement except the hill of death where Michael Oren led reporters to watch Israel’s brutal assault on the Palestinian civilian population from a distance.
The media coverage in the US and UK prove beyond a doubt that increasingly the Western press has been serving as a tool for the various Western governments. If the government cheers, the media cheer, if the government condemns, the media condemns, etc.
As’ad continues, identifying a ‘bearded protester’ index of sorts:
And would the Western media ever be as unrestrained in its glamorization and glorification of demonstrators and demonstrations in Egypt or Saudi Arabia or Jordan as they are now?
There are no claims of even covering a story anymore: it is merely how can we best help the beautiful demonstrators who are not bearded and whose women are more loosely veiled.
This is not to say that the Iranian regime is not repressive and needs to be overthrown: far from that. But it is to say that the Iranian regime is as bad (in fact Saudi Arabia and Egypt are probably worse) and as unjust as the various Middle East governments that are supported by the Western governments and Western media.
When Western media sit with Saudi and Egyptian leaders, it is as if they are sitting with a friend. And notice that just as in Western media coverage of Lebanon, only one side of the demonstrations are being covered.
Yesterday, the Ahmadinajad side mustered tens of thousands in a show of force, yet the three thousands who demonstrated for Khomeini groupie, Mousavi, received far more coverage.
It is the bearded demonstrator rule: bearded ones don’t deserve coverage and they don’t count.
As for invoking Palestine:
I am looking for an independent leftist movement that does not chant Islamist slogans (like Moussavi) to support, while identifying with the innocent victims who have been killed. Somebody wrote to me complaining that I don’t need to invoke Palestine. Let me explain: I will invoke Palestine at every corner, and every second. If I can, I would skip sleep to invoke Palestine. Not only for the obvious reasons, but also because it is symbolic of the hypocrisy and falsehoods of Western governments and media. If somebody has a problem with my Palestinian refrains, tough…potato. And notice that Western media which usually expresses horrror at any act of suicidal bombing, reacted with a measure of admiration at the act of suicidal bombing against Khomeini shrine. I would really be happy if demonstrations break out against every single regime in the Middle East, and all of them are overthrown. However, I understand that the US and Europe would really panic if the likes of Mubarak or House of Saud or Hashemite KingStation are threatened, let alone overthrown.
Stop the War (UK) have issued a statement on the crisis in Iran:
We note the anger displayed by many Iranians against the British government. These sentiments reflect Britain’s shameful history in the country, from overthrowing the democratic regime of Mossadeq in 1952, to its stalwart support for the Shah’s despotism and its support for Saddam Hussein in his aggression against the Islamic Republic in the 1980s.
This anger can only be exacerbated by British interference in the present crisis. The British government remained silent when its ally Hosni Mubarak falsified election results in Egypt, and it has refused to deal with democratically-elected leaders in the Palestine Authority and in Lebanon. The government supports the Saudi kleptocracy, which does not need to manipulate elections because they are never held there.