In the Cato Institute’s 2019 Human Freedom Index, which measures “human freedom in the world based on a broad measure that encompasses personal, civil, and economic freedom,” Iran placed 154th out of 162 nations.
It was two spots above Libya, a country which may or may not have an actual government depending on how you define that concept. It was two spots below the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a repressive, corrupt cesspool that’s been embroiled in violence for years and where millions face starvation.
Iran isn’t necessarily a place for you’re going to find much social justice, either. Last June, the U.K. Telegraph reported, the country introduced 2,000 new morality policemen because there was “increasing defiance” of the country’s mandatory hijab laws; the units were called “resistance groups for verbal and practical response to bad-hijabi women,” which is darkly funny until you consider the legal repercussions for whoever got caught by these police officers.
While those women end up in legal trouble because they didn’t want to wear a head covering mandated due to an extreme misogynistic interpretation of the official religion of Iran, the country’s parliament did give one of its rousing, not infrequent chants of “Death to America” to express their outrage at the death of George Floyd.
According to Newsweek, the Sunday session of the legislative body broke out in the chant after lawmaker Ahmad Naderi condemned the death and asked the body “to show respect for the movement of the oppressed in the U.S.” by, well, you know.
New video of #Iran MP Ahmad Naderi leading parliament with chants of ‘Death to America’ “in solidarity” with protesters in U.S. Naderi yesterday said talks with the U.S. would bring “eternal shame.” Vice-Speaker Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi is presiding. pic.twitter.com/RIQ0RtiYTd
— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) June 8, 2020
It didn’t end there, not that this wasn’t bad enough. Vice Speaker Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, who was seen joining in on the “Death to America” chant, later tweeted out a video of a 2018 incident in Bellevue, Washington, in which a white police officer was seen kneeling on a black woman during an arrest.
“The clip was initially posted by a civil rights activist and then shared by Iranian Ministry of Health spokesperson Kiavash Jahanapur, who said it showed one of many examples of injustice in the U.S. and wrote the hashtag ‘America rises against racism’ in Persian,” according to Newsweek.
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Iran has been making an unusual amount of fuss about Floyd’s death, which is an interesting take for a nation where police enjoy almost total impunity.
It’s news enough that even Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has weighed in on Floyd’s death.
“This is the U.S. government’s true nature and character that is being exposed today.”
“In dealing with its people, the U.S. government has behaved in the worst manner. The people of the United States have every right to feel embarrassed and ashamed by their governments, particularly the current one,” Khamenei added.
Of course, the final paragraph of the Reuters story rather put things in context: “Thousands were arrested and hundreds were killed in November when Iranians took to the streets to protest against a fuel price hike, believed to be Iran’s worst public unrest since the 1979 revolution that brought clerical rule.”
Apparently, though, this is a Big Thing in Iran, where the George Floyd protests have received plenty of coverage (although assumedly not as object lessons in how to behave).
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, for instance, has tweeted about “abase[ment] of African Americans” and “brutality against protesters & press” in major American cities.
US cities are scenes of brutality against protesters & press, as military crackdown is threatened
Europe—quick to be judge & jury about non-Western societies—keeps deafeningly silent.
If it wants to keep lips sealed now, it should always keep them that way#WorldAgainstRacism
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 2, 2020
In a read-the-room moment, Zarif also tweeted about how the “knee-on-neck” technique used against Floyd being not dissimilar to the “maximum pressure” campaign the United States has launched against Iran’s economy via sanctions.
The “knee-on-neck” technique is nothing new: Same cabal—who’ve admitted to habitually “lie, cheat, steal”—have been employing it on 80M Iranians for 2 yrs, calling it “maximum pressure”.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 1, 2020
While China’s state media has also given significant coverage to the protests over Floyd’s death, Iran’s coverage is particularly hypocritical given the country’s recent history of violent repression and the fact there’s no illusion the regime guarantees basic human rights. In fact, they’d probably question the existence of the concept.
However, the Trump administration has irked Iran — as well as China — by getting involved in each country’s recent protests.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has remarked on China’s own problems in that department, urging a “happy and enlightened ending to the Hong Kong problem.”
Either way, there’s a certain kind of cognitive dissonance in Iran making a big deal out of the death of George Floyd.
In the United States, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes stands charged with murder.
In Iran, police could do this three times before lunch and face no repercussions.
In fact, the weapons the Iranian police use to kill people usually don’t involve body parts but rather firearms or worse.
It’s nothing more than another excuse for a “Death to America” chant. It does nothing to memorialize George Floyd.
In Iran, George Floyd would be a non-person the moment that he died — and there certainly wouldn’t be a shred of video on social media, not in a nation that’s actually less free than the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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