IRAN-ARTE : A BACKGROUND AND THREE PRESENTS
Usually, to mark the anniversary of the Islamic revolution, we are served by a plethoric number of articles in the written press describing the event as an extraordinary opportunity for Iran. This year, we were spoilt with 14 hours of disinformation in the form of apparently impartial reports on all topics dear to Islamic regime, aired on the Franco-German channel Arte. Such simplistic themes as : The bipolarisation of Iranian politics since the revolution in conservative and reformist camps…University is more accessible to the masses…Women have become omnipresent in the social sphere…Young Iranians are enjoying themselves : All lies, repeatedly reported in order to mask the harsh laws of the Sharia and the unpopularity of the regime and the revolution itself...
In the various reports aired by Arte (Thematic on the Islamic revolution) all efforts were done to represent the Islamic Republic of Iran as normal as any other country. This is the essence of the lobbying of all pariah nations. However, the regime of the Mullahs is the champion in the violation of the basic rights of human being, and its record is known. Therefore, it is unpardonable to say that it is a wonderful regime instead one can be objective about them. To make abstraction of the lapidations, of the difficulty for women to have access to work, the total absence of women’s basic rights (travel, work, divorce…), to make abstraction of poverty that hits 85% of Iranians, the lack of medical and social security, and instead to focalize on the joys of the youth, the artists, and to smile at the colourful headscarves is scandalous. Throughout the reports, humour and good spirits underline the subjects, in a country in which they still stone women, in which the hanging of underage teens are aired live on TV. The priority seems to be to mask the reality. We have chosen examples from the thematic aired on Arte, in order to unmask the partial stance of the channel and Manon Loizeau, the reporter.
Manon Loizeau spends time trying different headscarves with an artist with a rebellious hairstreak and redone nose, asking for the price of bread in order to insist on the fact that it’s cheap, having fun with young skiers, buys censured DVDs from an ambulant vendor who impudently spends longs minutes talking to the camera, thus uncovering himself, talks extensively with an artist (still the one with the streak !) who lives in a luxurious apartment…but not a word on human rights, despite the fact that she was in Iran beginning of January, during the celebrations of Ashoura, during which the regime hanged 22 people ! She kept on smiling.
It should be noted that in this report on the Iranian Cinema, none of the popular and important film directors of before the revolution were contacted. They only interviewed the young anti-occidental directors of 1979, whom for their majority have never denounced a stoning and work hand in hand with the Mullah regime in trying to improve its image throughout the world. They auto-congratulate themselves on the fact that their films are Islam-correct and have met international acclaim and prizes at Cannes and other film festivals, the compensation for their collaborating silence on human rights. (Below, Massoud Kimiaee, a major cultural alibi of the regime.)
In the afternoon, Arte aired a documentary on women’s rights in Iran through the view of a young moviemaker on the lives of female members of her family. From the start of this documentary, a detail disturbs one, Afsar Sonia Shafie, who claims to be of a modest background, tells us that she got the idea for this film after 5 years of University studies in Lausanne. A young woman of modest condition cannot pay an airplane ticket to Switzerland, unless she has a government scholarship, which explains the content of her film. We have to admit that her film is very clever.
The movie starts with the testimony of Zahra Khanoum (Mrs. Zahra), an elderly lady of modest condition. She tells her granddaughter (Afsar Sonia Shafie) of her problems with her macho, rude husband. We learn that she took her destiny in hand and ended up bringing up her seven children all alone. But, she forgets to situate the period, it was the 1940’s when a woman in Iran was allowed to live alone, work and be independent. The film does not mention once the Shah and the secular laws of his reign that protected women, for the film was made to announce the so-called liberation of women under Khatami’s presidency. Thus, another witness tells us that she got married the day that Khatami won the elections ! She claims that she voted for Khatami, but her macho husband didn’t, a husband from whom she got a divorce because of a dissention concerning the place of women in the Iranian society. (In Iran a woman cannot ask for divorce, only a man can ask for a divorce if he wishes.)
This militant documentary tries to convince us that Khatami is at the origin of women’s emancipation, that his presidency has allowed women to affirm their feminist conscience and has opened the doors of higher education to them. As we know, during the Shah’s reign, universities were secular and totally free, while under the Mullah’s regime, university is very expensive (except for militia and children of Hezbollah combatants.) This can be checked, for under the eight years of Khatami’s presidency, the proportion of women in the miltia raised from 3 to 3.7% !
Following the previous long documentary, Arte aired a short one on other women, usually uneducated and who assassinate their husbands ! Arte set a décor, that of a schizophrenic Iran : the educated reformers versus the uneducated macho violent traditionalists. A sentiment reinforced by another documentary on President Ahmadinejad. In the first part, the supporters of Ahmadinejad, turned into ridicule, defend their champion without a detour. In the second part, the younger generation express their regrets for President Khatami’s rule. The documentary was extremely driven by Arte, encouraging the regime to make the choice of Khatami once more.
Once this message passed, we were presented with gifts under the form of another kind of documentaries.
A film directed by Bahman Kiorostami on Tehran’s Modern Art Museum, now managed by a former security guard ! Arte did not chose to interview HIM Farah Pahlavi, the founder of ths museum, for she would have deplored the fact that the majority of the masterpieces have been auctioned off by the regime during the past ten years, and replaced by cheap copies. The Mullah’s have disseminated an invaluable collection, the reason why they refuse to commission a new exhibit with the collection.
The second gift was a documentary on the quality of media in Iran : Sonia Kronlund, with a childish giggle, ridiculed the regime’s opposition by showing them images made by the regime of two fake opposition groups. She notes with malice that the opposition are badly equipped and make their programs in a tiny room. If she were a reporter during WWII, she would have qualified de Gaulle’s badly equipped radio station as shit. She concludes by praising the quality of the programs made by commercial media by comparing them to MTV. Is this Arte’s deontology ? Westernization under the Shah was bad, but MTV is cool ?
Finally, the last gift : a “historic” documentary with interventions of “specialists” such as Nicoullaud, Vedrine, Brzezinski, Rafsanjani, and the editor-in-chief of the pro-Khatami journal, Zanan.
History was re-written in this documentary in order to facilitate the dialogue with the Mullahs. Most of the documentary turned around the question of oil, but forgetting to mention that the revolution took place the year that the 1959 treaty between Iran and the Western oil companies came to an end, a treaty that the Shah had refused to re-conduct in 1979. Another big chunk of the film was concerning Mossadegh, the idol of the Mullahs, and his aura. However, Arte had avoided inviting the two specialists of Mossadegh, Jalal Matini and Ali Mirfetros, in order to avoid shattering the icon, discredited in Iran for many years now.
There is also talk of the Mullah’s being champions of the Persian identity, the same Mullah’s who had banned the celebrations of Now-Rouz, the Persian New Year ! Arte went beyond the Mullahs’ expectations by affirming that Shiism is part of the Iranian identity !
As usual, the agenda was to criticize the Shah’s regime and to glorify Khomeini and his regime. For example, in the first documentary, Arte had censured the film on the return of Khomeini to Iran by cutting the excerpt in which he says that he has “no particular feeling” about returning. The film even goes far by describing the giant portrait of Khomeini as a Samaritan watching over the people of Tehran, forgetting to mention that he was the gravedigger of millions of young Iranians that he sent to the front in the war with Iraq.
The film aired two hours of continuous lies, the first one being : Iran has been seeking modernization forever. Forgetting to mention that this modernization began with Reza Shah who was secular. The film’s goal was to show that modernity and secularism cannot go together in order not to be curt with the Mullahs.
The documentary pretends that modernity began with the Qajar Dynasty, known for their archaic reign, their submission to the British Empire and the clergy. Second transgression ; the documentary pretends that the clergy is modern and patriotic, and that Khomeini is a symbol of nationalism . The disrespectful author of this film took this occasion in order to rehabilitate Navab Safavi, the link between Iranian Mullahs and the Muslim Brothers of Egypt, murderer of the great figures of Iranian Nationalism, shameful piece of propaganda.
All these historic rewriting had a specific goal : to find a solution to the nuclear crisis and to find an entente with the Mullahs. We heard Nicoullaud, former French Ambassador to Iran posing as a Sharia expert : “Nuclear bomb is a sin in Islam, therefore there is no reason not to give them the right to uranium enrichment.” Or Vedrine, a long time lobbyist for dialogue with the Mullahs : “We have to give nuclear access to the Mullahs, for we had given the Shah this access,” it would be a respect for Iranian nationalism ! So the Shah was after all a nationalist in tune with his people ?
The conclusion came to Brzezinski, the author of the dated policy applied by Obama. He called for a “rational dialogue with Iran.” Followed by a long intervention by Khatami, the man of dialogue ! This was a new call to Tehran to accept discussions, with excerpts of a speech on Iran’s right to uranium enrichment, a definite encouragement towards the Mullahs.
What extraordinary rhetoric efforts ! Luckily, for us opposition, who fight this regime in tiny rooms, the Mullahs accept all the historic transgressions but wont give up an iota of their power. As they said, all this is blabla, if America wants an entente, it will have to let go the pressure by lifting all the sanctions on the Mullahs’ regime prior to a hypothetical study of the possibility of a dialogue.
We laughed warmheartedly at this documentary directed by Jean-François Colosimo, who wanted to denounce the cliché of the big mean wolf that is Iran, for yesterday, 69950000 Iranians (99.92% of the population) snubbed this damned regime that America and its allies want to maintain. America would do be better by speaking to us, instead of the so-called leaders who don’t even have the support of their own militia anymore.
 The same day, Le Monde, an American lobbying partner, published : “Mohammed Khatami, who had been president of the Islamic Republic of Iran from 1997 to 2005, will be the candidate of the reformists in the June presidential elections. His election will give hope of a normalization of diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States. In the same manner that the American hostility under Khatami’s presidency allowed the election of the radical Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a friendlier attitude today will permit the return of Khatami to power.”
 “We do not venerate Iran, we venerate Allah. Patriotism is the mask of paganism. I tell you, this country can burn. I tell you, this country can very well go up in smoke, as far as Islam comes out of it triumphant in the rest of the world,” said Khomeini, the nationalist portrayed by Arte !