Sunday, May 21, 2006

False Story about Iranian Religious Minorities

This is old news by now, and tons of Persian-language blogs have already said much about it. But I don't think that many English language Iranian blogs have taken up the issue, so it may be worth it to cover the ground once again, and here we go:

In case you didn't figure it out as soon as you read the headline, the story being circulated with the title "Iran eyes badges for Jews and Christians" is false.

The article, originally published in the Canadian National post was available via Canada.com at this url, which as you will see now contains a blank page. Apparently they got called on their lies and decided to disappear the story, but we're not going to let them off the hook that easily, right?. Nor are we going to forget the Iranian bloggers who continue to reproduce this false story knowing full well that it has no basis in fact. The damage these propagandists do to themselves makes things a lot easier. ((By the way, The right wing Gossip site Drudgereport.com published the story as it's headline, but I've yet to see a clarification).

Oh, and speaking of lying propagandists, it turns out that the source of this false story was most likely none other than one Amir Taheri, who has authored numerous similarly (in)credible articles published on various right-wing sites. The same day that the false article was published, the Canadian National Post included this article, in which he made claims that are quite similar to the ones that reappear in the above noted story.

In case anyone is interested in what the draft law concerning the dress code actually says, Mehdi of Zharf has produced a quick summary translation here (you have to scroll down past the Persian text in the post to get to his translation). You may also want to check out Alireza Doostdar's piece, published on Juan Cole's blog wherein he argues that the draft law should also be considered in light of issues of cultural nationalism.

And finally a couple of telling facts about the Canadian National Post: It was founded by Conrad Black, who at one point owned the Jerusalem post; It is now owned by the media conglomerate CanWest Global communications, which has openly claimed in the past that We do not run in our newspaper Op Ed pieces that express criticism of Israel.

You see then what kind of individuals and institutions we are dealing with here?

I think we have a reponsibility to hold such people accountable, whether they be a blogger with a handful of readers, a professional who is well-paid for the production of misinformation, or an entire media empire dedicated to suppressing free speech and disseminating distorted "news" pieces.

I always say this, and I have the feeling that I will be repeating this for some time to come: The worst part about the spread of outright lies by such individuals and institutions is that they undermine the work of those who have legitimate critiques of the Iranian government, and who pursue change with honesty and integrity.