Saturday, November 29, 2014


Persian Letters

The View From Iran Of Syria's Protests

Syrians shout slogans during a pro-government rally outside the Umayyad Mosque in the old city of Damascus on March 25.
Syrians shout slogans during a pro-government rally outside the Umayyad Mosque in the old city of Damascus on March 25.
"Limited" protests have taken place in a few cities in Syria, while reports indicate that Israel has incited Syrians to take to the streets by sending them text messages and also by using the Internet. That's according to a short report by Iran's official news agency, IRNA, which fails to mention the deaths in Syria or the chants for freedom and against corruption.

In reality, what has been very "limited" is the coverage Iranian news agencies have given to the unrest that has rocked Syria in recent days.

Most agencies have either largely ignored the protests or posted reports that suggest foreign countries have a hand in the protests in Iran's main ally in the region.

The protests in Syria have put Tehran in a difficult position, which would seem to be one of the major reasons for the silence. Iranian media have been giving ample coverage to the Arab revolts and protests -- except for Syria. Iranian officials, who have been describing the uprisings as an Islamic awakening and claimed that protesters have been inspired by Iran's 1979 revolution, must now employ different rhetoric to explain the events in Syria.

For now, officials have remained silent. But if or when they decide to comment, they would likely claim that foreign elements and foreign countries are behind the unrest in Syria. They've done the same while talking about the mass street demonstrations that took place in Iran following President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's disputed reelection in 2009 and also the more recent opposition protests in Tehran and other cities.

The opposition "Kaleme" website, which has also noted the lack of coverage by Iranian state media of the antigovernment protests in Syria, quotes a report by a pro-government Mashregh website:

"Western circles had recently tried through Facebook to create a day of rage in Syria but the failure of the conspiracy and the lack of welcome by Syrians turned into another disgrace for the US and its allies in the region."

The scant coverage of events in Syria by Iran's state-controlled media has not gone unnoticed among citizens.

"Alef," a website close to conservative lawmaker Ahmad Tavakoli, who is an Ahmadinejad critic, says it has received complaints from some of its readers about the lack of coverage of the protests in Syria in domestic media.

"Alef" says the readers are right to ask, yet it adds: "If the protests in Syria were really by people and without any foreign instigation, then domestic should have covered them as they did for the protests in Yemen, Egypt, and in Bahrain."

The website says maybe one of the reasons why Iranian media have not taken the Syrian protests "seriously" is that the sources reporting the protests are "doubtful."

"Alef" says Western media that don't have reporters in Daraa and other cities where protests have taken place get their news only from those opposed to the Syrian government.

"Western media have demonstrated that they're not objective at all in the selection of the news, they select the news and amplify it based on their interests; therefore sometimes they practice heavy censorship or they make big mistakes" in their coverage.

"Alef" then accuses Western news agencies of turning a blind eye to the protests and unrest in Bahrain while devoting excessive time to events in Syria.

"Let us remind you that between March 14 and March 20, Reuters and Associated Press had more than 39 news items from unrest in Syria but these two news agencies had during the same time only nine news items about the unrest in Yemen and Bahrain!!! In these conditions, aren't we right to be suspicious about the reports of these two news agencies?"

"Alef" continues by saying that it appears protests in Syria have been "serious" but not the way "Western and Wahhabi media" have reported. "Yet the very deaths of several [people] in Syria is important and a cause for regret."

Meanwhile, the pro-Ahmadinejad Fars news agency says that Western agencies have tried to portray the situation in Syria as critical by exaggerating the number of death and inciting Syrians to take to the streets.

Ahmadinejad is set to speak about regional developments and other issues during his first press conference in the new Iranian year, which will be held in Tehran next week. Syria is likely to come up.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
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Comments
     
by: Syrian
March 29, 2011 12:22
The protests were pretty limited though. I don't think the Iranians have exaggerated that. Other news agencies, even those opposed to Syrian politics, have been saying the same thing. EVEN SYRIAN OPPOSITION ARE SAYING THAT. Where are the images of mass protests?

Actually we have a lot of those. Today, millions of people took the streets to show support for the regime. You should mention that in your 'limited' report Golnaz.

by: Mehrdad from: tehran
March 29, 2011 19:37
in Iranian Television when people in Libya and Egypt protest they say it is Islamic awakening, when people in Syria protest they call it riot.

by: jtownjohn from: USA
March 29, 2011 20:14
Are the people of Iran so blinded by Islam , The Supreme Leader, Ahmadinejad the government and the clerics that lthey are willing to believe without question what they are being told by this Theocracy. They blame Israel and the America for all the problems in the Muslim countries when it would be to the advantage of the US and Israel to seek peaceful resolutions. Syria killed nearly 50 unarmed protesters and there are demonstrations against the government. Yes the West Media show what they can because they want the world to see that the people of Islamic States are tired of the Dictatorships ansd lack of freedom. Yemen has not been show as much because it is too dangerous for Western Media to be there due to the Al Qaida terrorist. Bahrain has not been televised as much because it is a Sunni and Shiite conflict and for protection of the Saudi troops.
In Response

by: Andy_k from: USA
March 29, 2011 21:26
Every country has people blinded by religion, just as those here in the US such as the pro israeli christians justify the wars as scripture that will lead to the coming of christ.

Every country has its interests and their media is apparent by it. Iran won't show riots in countries it supports such as Syria, Lebanon, etc or calls them riots set up by the west and Israel, while it fully shows the bahrain, yemen, saudi arabia protests as an islamic awakening and justified protests.

What is funny is how the iranian government mentions that syrian protests as very small and a few dozen, while state media keeps showing the saudi protests even though those were also very few shias demonstrating too. It is hypocrisy at its finest.

Regarding the US, we're not perfect either, We were quick to send Robert Gates to Bahrain when uprisings began and a day after we saw saudi troops amongst other nearby arab states being sent in to silence the protests (by force as well). Clinton and others in the administration were quick to condemn the governments of Libya, Syria, and Iran during their riots while they didn't condemn the actions of bahrain or saudi arabia.

Hypocrisy exists in all governments, and siding with one side is basically siding with the lesser of two evils.

by: Saad Al-Haffar from: USA
March 31, 2011 10:28
I recommend a path that promises to maintain the security, secularism, and stability of Syria while championing an Arab nationalistic hallmark that upholds the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine — two topics that are dear to the hearts of grass roots Syrians.

The path needs to deliver and not just promise democracy via the British model, through evolution not revolution, making peace not war. We need to prevent an out right civil war which can be sparked at any time due to the existance of strategicly placed militias and snipers in the cities of Syria. The situation could easily turn into another Lebanon.

I advise that president Al-Assad pledges to continue combating extremist groups like Al Qaida so Syria does not become a ligitimate western military target that would rip through the nation.

Syria's youth have potential and need the opportunity and space to be allowed to blossom and benefit a global economy.

by: Kaveh from: Esfahan
April 13, 2011 22:21
The Islamic regime no doubt miss the good old days in the 1980s when brute force and control of the media allowed them to control much of the information received by Iranians. Instead the regime devotes its energy and resources to jailing journalists and activists, building bigger prisons, filtering the internet, and financing suicide jihadists and cyber-warriors.
It is a country without a true government, as regimes such as this do not govern their people, they simply try to control them. A true government would address 15% inflation, joblessness and the more than 10 million drug addicts in a country of 70 million people. These Islamic awakenings, as Islamic regime party line suggests, recall Iran's own revolt against the Shah of Iran in 1979. And the message to the Iranian people now seems to be: you already had your Islamic awakening; the Arab world is simply catching up. There is just one problem with this line of reasoning: it's not true today, and it wasn't true in 1979, either. The Iranian in 1979 did not chant: "Death to the Shah, long live an underperforming, isolated revolutionary state ruled by unelected and corrupt clerics in alliance with a dubiously elected president and a rapacious military establishment with a demonstrated willingness to deploy brute force on its own citizens amid an environment of chronic inflation and economic woes.

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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Seen anything in the Iranian blogosphere that you think Persian Letters should cover? If so, contact Golnaz Esfandiari at esfandiarig@rferl.org