Thursday, February 7, 2013

Iran steps up harassment against BBC journalists

[Originally posted at NOW]

Marg bar Ingilis! – “Death to Britain!” – is the exuberant chant said to customarily interrupt the Friday prayers at Tehran University campus; the concluding line in a triumvirate that also includes two other villains whose names will surprise no one. As a Brit, I’ve never known whether to be embarrassed or proud to see my dilapidated second-rate nation elevated to the high table of evil in this way – most Islamists tend to overlook our contributions to the global conspiracy against God. Yet in Iran, the Supreme Leader continues to insist that it is the Cameron cabal, more so than the Obama oligarchy and even the Netanyahu nexus, that really runs the show – a paranoid anachronism that was already being satirized by Iranian writers before the 1979 revolution.

The latest iteration of this sheer lunacy is the campaign of physical intimidation and hysterical libel waged by the theocracy against the family members of people accused of working for the BBC. The Persian arm of the British state media outlet is banned in Iran, having been accused of everything from hosting spies and Iranian dissidents to trafficking drugs to converting staff members to Christianity and Baha’ism to manufacturing the ‘Green Movement’ protests that followed the disputed elections of 2009.

Accordingly, the BBC states it has no staff inside the country; its Persian service being operated from London.

Nonetheless, the Iranians have this week arrested a number of alleged BBC staffers. A clue to the more likely identity of the detained lies in a report from BBC director Mark Thompson on Friday that the sister of an expatriate BBC employee was arrested and held in solitary confinement last week, one in a series of recent abuses against family members of BBC Persian journalists.

Needless to say, the mullahs’ intentions in doing all this, with parliamentary elections just a month away, are not particularly difficult to divine. All one can do is salute the extraordinary courage of all Iranian journalists who continue to speak precious truth to their regime’s dreadful power.

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