Undoubtedly, many of you saw reports this week claiming that Iran had passed Nazi-like laws that would force religious minorities to wear Nazi-like colored armbands, which made us all cry “Oh my god, Iran is acting like the Nazis.”
While the story spread quickly, it turned out to have a single source, author Amir Taheri (more on him later), printed in Canada’s right-leaning National Post. And in Taheri’s story, the fact that Iran is passing these laws is simply stated, and has no source. No, “the Tehran Times reports” or “legislation voting records show that”. The closest we get is “confirmation” of these claims which came from nowhere, by “Iranian expatriates living in Canada”. Later, one of these expatriates is revealed to be a man named “Ali Behroozian”. So that’s it. “There’s this law”, “Iranian immigrants agree” and “here’s one of those immigrants.” The article also includes many responses to the “news” by world leaders and Jewish organizations, but it seems that these people heard the news and responded without doing their own research. I imagine they’re going to be pissed later.
Granted, a small number of sources doesn’t make an article false, but it does mean that you should try to find more evidence before believing shocking charges such as those in this article.
It seems that the National Post has pulled the story from its website (although you can read a reprint here).
Now, it turns out that author Amir Taheri is an employee of PR firm Benador Associates. What does Benador specialize in? “The areas of media applied to politics, conflict resolution, the dialogue of civilisations, foreign policy, national security, anti-terrorism, defense of human rights and freedom of religion.” Benador’s clients have included some of the more prominent neo-cons and Iraq war apologists.
First of all, you should never print articles by PR agents. NEVER. Their professional goal is to trick you into believing what their clients want you to believe. Maybe, maybe you could print a PR agent’s article if was some sort of commentary about the state of the PR industry, and even then you should be suspicious. But when a neo-con-leaning PR agency sends you an juicy article that gives reasons to invade a neo-con target? Alarm bells should be ringing.
So not only is the original article short on sourcing, not only was it written by a paid propagandist, but it turns out that anyone with any actualy knowledge of Iranian legislation is refuting it. True, it does appear that the alluded-to law has to do with religion and clothing, but it seems to be a clarification of what fashions are appropriate for women to wear under the rules of Islam. And while that’s oppressive and fucked up, remember that these rules are handed down by the theocratic government, not the will of the people. It is my understanding that the people of Iran are actually fairly progressive, but have been unable to get out from under the religious rule.
I imagine that this story will a) make the name National Post a laughing-stock among informed individuals, while simultaneously b) sticking in the minds of many as a sign that Iran is a Nazi-like danger to the world.
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