Friday, August 26, 2016


How Schoolchildren Are Brainwashed In Iran

Children taking part in a rally marking the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Tehran last year -- Iran's next generation of martyrs?
Children taking part in a rally marking the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Tehran last year -- Iran's next generation of martyrs?
By Hossein Aryan
Acting on orders from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to counter the "soft war" launched by Iran's enemies after last year's disputed presidential election, the Basij militia have beefed up their ideological indoctrination of schoolchildren.

Brigadier General Mohammad-Saleh Jokar, who heads the Students Basij, told the Mehr news agency last week that in the last six months, 6,000 "resistance centers" have been established in elementary schools in order to fully prepare children for joining Basij units when they transfer to middle schools at the age of 12.

The idea of expanding Basij activities was first announced last November, when Jokar told Mehr that "schoolchildren are more susceptible at a young age than at any other time in their lives...and we want to promote and instill into elementary schoolchildren the ideas of the revolution and Basij."

Martyrdom Icon

The Basij Resistance Force, with a nominal strength of 12.6 million, has been present in schools since it was first created 31 years ago, but the law authorizing the government to establish schoolchildren's Basij units was ratified by the Majlis only in April 1996.

During the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, when self-sacrifice and martyrdom became the quintessential values of the Islamic revolution and the guiding principles of Iranian society, more than 550,000 students were sent to the front, often with a plastic "key to paradise" hanging around their necks and the promise that they would automatically go to paradise if they died in battle.

Basij members parade in Isfahan in 2008 .
General Jokar told the Fars news agency last October that 36,000 schoolchildren were killed and 2,853 injured during the war, while 2,433 were taken prisoner. The exceptionally high ratio of dead to wounded (in a conventional war between professional armies the number of wounded is higher than the number of those killed) reflects the children's lack of military training: they were used as cannon fodder in human-wave attacks launched by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps against the Iraqi forces.

In order to promote and glorify the spirit of martyrdom in line with the law enacted by the Majlis, October 30 is celebrated as Student Basij Day.

It was on that day in 1980, during the battle for the southern port of Khorramshahr at the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War, that 13-year-old Hossein Fahmideh pulled the pin out of a grenade and leaped clutching it under an advancing Iraqi tank, killing himself and disabling the tank. Islamic republic founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared Fahmideh a hero, and a monument to him was later erected on the outskirts of Tehran. That monument has since become a place of pilgrimage for schoolchildren.

Discussing the importance of observing Islamic standards in kindergartens, Welfare and Social Security Minister Sadeq Mahsouli, himself a former Revolutionary Guard commander, said last month that "children should be educated in such a way that when they reach the age of 13, they will be able to imitate Hossein Fahmideh."

Pioneers, Komsomol, And Commissars

According to General Jokar, the Student Basij currently numbers 4.6 million members of both sexes. They are subdivided into units of "Omidan" (Hopes, in elementary schools); "Pouyandegan" (Seekers, in middle schools) and "Pishgaman" (Standard Bearers, in high schools). Those subdivisions are similar to the Young Pioneers and Komsomol in the Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, 4,000 experts in political education are to be sent to schools across the country, a senior Education Ministry official recently told the Iranian Labor News Agency. Those experts, who bear a striking resemblance to Soviet-era political commissars, are to show children "how to combat the onslaught of [Western] culture and inform them about the enemies' plots being hatched against the Islamic revolution."

"The clerical regime is once again using religion to create an ideology in order to brainwash schoolchildren and consolidate its authority in society, the way many other authoritarian regimes do," Azadeh Kian, a political sociologist at Paris University VIII, tells RFE/RL's Radio Farda.

Increasing Indoctrination

Confirming that the indoctrination of schoolchildren has become a priority for the regime, Education Minister Hamid-Reza Hajibabai recently disclosed that "10,000 houses of the Koran, 20,000 prayer rooms, and 20,000 libraries will be established in schools."

Said Payvandi, a professor of education at the University of Paris VI, describes such indoctrination as anathema to education. "All international charters stress that children, especially 7-14-year-olds, should receive education in a free environment devoid of ideological pressure or military training," he tells RFE/RL's Radio Farda.

Schoolteachers too are seriously concerned by the government's measures to indoctrinate even the youngest schoolchildren. A teacher from the province of Khuzestan who asked not to be named told Radio Farda that the presence of at least one Basij at every school, Basij cooperation with the Intelligence Ministry, and the selection of Basij members as headmasters in most schools has brought schools firmly under the control of the security agencies.

Yet these combined measures were not sufficient to prevent student protests at a number of schools last September inspired by the post-presidential-election demonstrations.

It seems as though the government's education policy over the past 30 years has not succeeded in molding young Iranians' minds. "The government's failed policy manifested itself in [the post-presidential-election] protests by young people who were born after the [1979] revolution and grew up in an environment imbued with propaganda and the ideologization of Islam. But the result [of that brain-washing] has been the opposite of what the regime intended," says sociologist Azadeh Kian.

Rouzbeh Bolhari of RFE/RL's Radio Farda contributed to this article. Hossein Aryan is deputy director of Radio Farda. The views expressed in this commentary are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL
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Comment Sorting
by: Behzad from: Tehran
May 27, 2010 11:57
Plastic "Keys to Paradise" is an old lie. A popular Shia prayer book is called "Mafatihul Jinan" which means "Keys to Paradise" and most religious households and people have a copy. The soldiers would take copies of Mafatihul Jinan to war with them and some sloppy (or otherwise motivated) journalist created this fiction of plastic keys around necks. I am sure it was just a "misunderstanding".

Also I wonder if pledging allegiance every morning and Boys and Girl Scouts in the US could be counted as brainwashing children. I would say it does count as brainswashing children.

by: Salman from: Tehran
May 27, 2010 18:56
I agree with you Behzad that various forms of ideological manipulation exist in countries other than Iran - take the pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States for example.
But what troubles me more about the promotion of the Basij in Iranian schools is not so much the ideology but what the ideology serves. At all levels, the basij exhibits corrupt traits such as the doling out of advantages and privileges based on loyalty and allegiance rather than ability or more positive qualities. The current regime in Iran, is far from being wholly unified behind the "Revolution" and "Velayat-e Faghih" as it claims. In fact its actions and proclamations swing wildly between self-congratulatory claims of power and supremacy (both internationally and domestically) and a highly-paranoid and defensive world view in which the regime is under threat from both visible and invisible enemies.
If the regime is now teaching kids to be good Basijis in order to provide a new generation of blind support to a corrupt and parochial system, it is doing both the children and the future of Iran a great disservice.

by: Rob from: Carson City, Nevada USA
May 27, 2010 19:32
Because you do it a little, it'sok for us to do it a lot? Pledging allegiance to the US flag is a far cry from what the Iranian govt. is doing to Iranian children and does not come close to making their actions acceptable. It is a criminal regime, which is made more evident by each report that comes out of Iran about actions such as this. Sooner or later, accountablilty will fall on their shoulders. 'Enmity against God'? How abhorrently arrogant. How about 'Enmity against our own People'?
In Response

by: Johann from: USA
May 28, 2010 20:54
Do you remember our Presidential elections 2000.
They were decided be the American Highest Cort, but not by the people of Florida or the Great USA !!!

by: Johann from: USA
May 27, 2010 20:43
This reminds me what some right wing Christians, want to do here in USA.
Texas is the first state to start a new educational procedure
. I think we here in Minnesota
( and California) are too smart to do the same and in Texas.
Government and religion is separated in USA, but the Christin Coalition is trying to change that.

by: Mamuka
May 28, 2010 00:01

Boy and Girl Scouts in US are completely voluntary and have nothing to do with the State. And regarding the Pledge of Allegiance, you should see the number of lawsuits challenging this or demanding the right to refuse to participate.

And there is nothing in the pledge about martyring oneself.
In Response

by: Johann from: USA
May 28, 2010 20:48
Kids in USA shouldn't be forced to do Pledge of Allegiance.
In Nazi Germany where my NO Jews relatives had to do military service, there were a Pledge of Allegiance to Germany. No European country does it any more.
Hitler didn't kill Jews that served in the military. At people can order the book. "Jewish solders of Adolf Hitler". I am a patriot but this pledge of Allegiance is a bad reminder of Nazi Germany !!!

by: Brazilian Man from: São Paulo - Brazil
May 28, 2010 16:25
In America, a 13-year-old boy who gets suicidal is treated by psychiatrists.

by: Mehran from: TEHRAN
May 29, 2010 03:28


by: MAMAL from: iran-kermanshah
June 11, 2010 20:05
shame on you khamenei. shame on you

by: Sharon Riley from: USA
June 25, 2010 17:38
USA Disclose Act Will Choke First Amendment

The Neomarxist behind the Obama/FTC intend to drown out the voice of America with Obama/Marxist propaganda, enforcing new regulations that will cripple bloggers and other alternative media from disseminating information, free speech that grass-roots among other organizations depend on to make informed decisions. Obama’s support of the DISCLOSE Act confirmed what many Americans already believed; that Obama and certain Democrats in Congress intend to strangle the flow of information. If Obama and his leftists associations get their way, our Children will be brainwashed by Obama’s one-sided propaganda at school, through Obama controlled Radio, TV and Obama media policies that restrict the free flow of information. Historically when communists attempted or took over a country, one of their first steps was to control the media and all forms of public communications to control Civilian populations.

When Russia took over Hungary, it immediately took control of the Radio stations to thwart Citizen resistance and to psychologically control the People. Considering the Obama administration’s obsession with controlling all media, one might ask, are some of the persons inside and outside U.S. Government working with the Obama administration to push the Disclose Act and other censorship regulations, involved in causes that promulgate overthrow of the United States? While some in the Obama Government say they support dismantling capitalism, brick by brick, does their endgame call for destruction of the United States? If it does, what should Americans do to stop it? Does the Obama administration’s proposed censorship of free speech e.g., the Disclose Act threaten National Security? In other countries where members of political parties and ideological extremists attempted or succeeded in this kind of forced censorship, forbidding Citizens to receive information, they have been arrested for treason among other crimes.

The Obama administration appears intended to curtail Americans’ right to know, restrict American’s right to communicate via the Internet and the Obama administration admits they want to pay writers in newspapers and other media to covertly propagandize their point of view. Is this not treason? Top CZAR Cass Sunstein prepared a 2008 paper that proposed spying on Americans, infiltrating groups and organizations to obstruct Free Speech, disrupt the exchange of ideas and disseminate false information to neutralize Americans that might question government.