On Monday Iran witnessed a new, albeit small wave of protests in line with the recent toppling of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak as evidenced by their slogans which included “If Egypt can do it, why not Iran?” The protests were also followed by a howling laudation by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praising their courage and simultaneously condemning the Islamic Republic’s “hypocrisy” who, in her understanding, supported protests in other Arab countries yet suppressed their own.
With the all too visible protests in Tunisia and Egypt throughout the previous weeks, one incredible yet disturbing rhetoric from the Western side has been the appeal for calm, not only from the ruling side, but also from the protesting side. This of course has run foul to those who remember the 2009 election protests in Iran whose unprecedented violence left a little over 30 people dead more than half of whom were security officials. Yet despite the violence coming from the protestors and their burning of banks, cars and even mosques, less than twenty protesters were killed. This is in contrast to over 230 people who died in the Tunisian protests, and the near 400 who died in the Egyptian protests.
Despite these appalling numbers, Tunisia’s total death count rarely made it to CNN’s front page and Mubarak, according to US Vice-President Joe Biden was “not a dictator”. However, when it came to Iran, CNN broke its record in the length of coverage it accorded to Iran in 2009, a record which was only put to stop after the death of Michael Jackson. More recently, despite the small protests and the availability of few amateur videos covering the demonstrations, Iran made it to the front page of all major Western media sources in a matter of minutes (taking weeks for Egypt and Tunisia and now years for Bahrain). Iran has supported protests in Egypt and it has outlawed its own, but the nature of these demonstrations are worlds apart. The protests that have been led against the Tunisian and Egyptian governments have not only been economy-based, but they have also been very political where the populations are tired of having foreign-controlled dictators in power who betray their interests to Western corporations.
Why is it that these protests have been negligible in poor countries like Syria? It is because the populations, although dissatisfied with their economic status-quo, still see (at least for the most part) eye-to-eye with their governments when it comes to domestic and foreign policies. They do not see their governments as sell-outs and see them as working for the betterment of their nation, despite the existence of certain short-comings and failures.
This has also been the case with the Islamic Republic of Iran which witnessed tens of millions of people all over the country coming out in support of the revolution and the current ruling elite (an incident which, hypocritically was not covered by most major Western news sources). This is in contrast to the few hundred protestors that gathered recently to vent their anger by causing the death of two innocent individuals, one of whom has recently been identified as Sane Jaleh, a 26 year old student and government supporter. New protests are scheduled for February 20.