Iran has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds these past few days, but not necessarily for the right reasons. Iran only became important to the media when they could find a reason to blame U.S. President Donald Trump for everything, and when Canadian citizens became part of the death toll.
The sharp contrast between the perspective of the North American media and the reality of the Iranian situation is perhaps best summed up by Iranian-American human rights activist Erica Kasraie, who recorded her thoughts on the situation in a January 6 YouTube video called “Truth from an Iranian” that has since gone viral:
“I feel like we’re living in the Twilight Zone … I’m completely outraged by this notion that the propaganda machine that is the media is glorifying Qasem Soleimani. This man has not only the blood of Americans on his hands, but the blood of Iranians, Iraqis, Yemenis, Afghanis … The people in Iran are happy that this man who is responsible for the slaughter of so many people is gone. Where was your outrage last month when the regime slaughtered 1600 kids for peaceful protests?” said Kasraie.
Back in Canada, a Toronto candlelight vigil held in memoriam of Qasem Soleimani on January 4 made headlines around the world, while another vigil held a short drive north in the quiet council chambers of the North York Civic Centre for the 1500+ victims of November’s bloody uprisings in Iran was barely noticed. The media had been conspicuously mute on reporting the mass protests where Iranian citizens were brutally killed by the Iranian regime, orchestrated by Soleimani and other high-end officials.
While mourners at the vigil for Soleimani waved Hezbollah flags and chanted “Down with USA! Down with Israel!,” the North York gathering had Canadian and pre-regime Iranian flags respectfully displayed side-by side while a series of speakers spoke about the importance of peace and the cost of war.
It’s frustrating to see the brutal reality of the Iranian regime ignored as the Canadian and American establishment media portrays the regime as legitimate and Soleimani as a respected leader while suggesting our closest ally targeted an innocent man.
The media considered the beard Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brought back from his vacation far more important than discussing the 300% fuel hike that sparked November’s protests. The hike was merely the straw that broke the camel’s back, with increasing unrest being indicative of the growing divide between the authoritarian regime and the people living under it.
When the media did spare a few seconds to cover the protests, they didn’t talk about the way the regime shut down the country’s internet in an effort to sever communication between protestors and prevent imagery from making its way to the outside world. They didn’t talk about the deaths of 14-year-old Nikta Esfandani, or show 27-year-old Pouya Bakhtiari’s grandmother’s heartfelt plea for the regime to release her family from prison so she would not have to grieve her grandson’s death alone.
Instead, core causes were misrepresented according to the outlet’s political preferences. While CBC reported that the Iranian people were protesting sanctions imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump, many of the Iranians I spoke to at a recent demonstration in support of the protestors actually view those sanctions as delegitimizing a corrupt government, and support them on those grounds regardless of however else they feel about Trump.
Truth be told, most so-called “experts” on the Iran situation that you will encounter online or in the establishment media are either using spin to serve an anti-U.S. agenda, or simply don’t know what they’re talking about. Many can’t even locate Iran on a map.
Simply put, the protestors in Iran are fighting for what many of us in the West take for granted: freedom of expression, democracy, and peace. They are fighting with their lives to get it. While westerners share imagery stating that “hijab means freedom,” women in Iran are imprisoned and flogged for actively protesting mandatory hijab and demanding the freedom to choose whether or not to wear it.
So, the next time you are looking for context or opinion on the volatile situation in Iran, look beyond media spin and woke celebrity opinions, and instead seek out those who know the situation best: the Iranian people themselves. You might just discover the truth.