We live in a world where the media helps shape our lives; be it for social, economical, political or entertainment purposes the importance of media cannot be underestimated. It is something which builds our personalities due to the information it feeds us. We are in many ways attached to this source and make it our comfort zone. Today, where the World has reached a critical stage in every aspect due to the economical situation as well as the political situation, the Media has become a very important tool. A tool which has replaced religion as the opium of masses in many ways. Today there are millions of people who are addicted to it by being hooked through the slim line flashy television sets in their homes. Our personalities are defined through the programs that are aired, our views and perceptions are built upon the reports that are broadcasted and our lifestyle is based around the characters of a certain hit series. The Media has become this comfort zone for people who do not wish to delve to see the true reality and are happy with what is being fed to them through their television set.
In most recent example of Iranian elections, the Media became the force of this election for the Reformists, who used the internet as a tool for their campaigning. The Mousavi Group on Facebook boasts 89,000 users, many of them from Iran, who update the rest of the world with the latest news on the happenings in Iran as well as the speeches of Mr Mousavi himself. On the other hand, the social networking site Twitter is being used to get information regarding the aftermath of the elections. Then there are the Western Channels and their reporting stories on the elections and different groups that are competing in it. One thing that stood out from this recent episode is how easy it is for the Media to manipulate and present a totally different perception to that which is reality.
Let us cast our minds back to early this year when the Israel siege was happening around Gaza. Israel barred Foreign Media reporters from Gaza, instead they were reporting from the ‘Hill of Shame’, as Jon Snow called it. There was no widespread condemnation of the Israeli policy then by either US analyst or British reporters as there is now to Iran’s policy of restricting the Foreign reporters. In US, the Congress voted 405-1 condemning the approach Iran had taken. I wonder if the Israelis received such a strong protest too as they barred the reporters from the Gaza strip and slayed hundreds of civilians?
In the UK, the Iranian Ambassador was summoned to explain the remarks of the Wilayatul Faqee, Ayatollah Ali Khamenai regarding the BBC coverage. The remarks were nothing short of what the BBC deserved for their half baked reporting and their manipulations, the BBC were guilty of much more than what they got told. One such example is that during the Friday Sermon of Ayatollah Ali Khamenai the BBC Radio Service indicated a number of times that the slogans being shouted during the sermon are anti-Khamenai. In reality the slogans were actually supporting the Wilayatul Faqee and the system of Iran. One can accept that a mishap happens once but for it to happen a number of times in the same coverage is far from a mishap. Another example of BBC misinformation is the report by Jon Leyne who offered his interpretation of the blast at the Shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini to be the work of the Iranian government, in order to help their cause. What followed was a swift action by Iran in asking the reporter to leave the country and rightly so. These are only certain example of how BBC were guilty as charged however the masses rejected it calling it a weak attempt by the Iranians to cover up their shortcomings.
Mr Brown went a step further in his statement stating that “The whole of the world is speaking out.” One has to ask how does Mr Brown come to this conclusion? Many countries of the world congratulated Ahmedinijad and accepted the result of the elections. Many of them have actually condemned the view of the Western powers regarding their rhetoric towards Iran and there was no comment from China or Russia. However the point to note here is that why was the world quiet as the Palestinians died in Gaza? Why did Mr Brown fail to say such a statement then? Is it easy to condemn an nation because their ideology is not conformed with his ideology?
January 2009 witnessed the oppression and tyranny of the Israeli forces in Gaza killing over 1400 civilians and damaging the strip by attacking the infrastructure, yet there was no public outcry as bodies laid of innocents. There was no condemnation of this aggression nor on the restrictions of reporting by the US President Mr Obama nor there was there criticism by UK Prime Minister Mr Brown. June 2009 saw the Iranian people go to the polls and re-elect Ahmedinijad. The propoganda machines came into work in distorting the will of the people who chose Ahmedinijad by indoctrinating people with constant reports of ‘stolen elections’, ‘rigging’ and ‘fraud’. The manipulations and the spin by the Western Media continued to weave a particular image into the minds of the people around the World regarding Iran. They portrayed an image that displayed Iran to be an oppressive dictatorial regime which had rejected the ‘rightful’ choice of the people by endorsing Ahmedinijad. The platform of misinformation provided the Politicians of the Western countries to take advantage and add their rhetoric too. The minds of people accepted it all as they were blinded to reality, their perception was based on what the Media reported and showed.
In leaving no stone uncovered, the Western Media jumped at the tragic death of Neda Soltan. A lady who had allegiance to neither camps and was tragically killed on the streets of Tehran, but what followed afterwards was a trail of exploitation of her death. The Western Media symbolized her as the Martyr of the Reformist Revolution. Her death was aired again and again to incite the emotions of people all over, to display how brutal the Iranian Government is in dealing with its own people, to portray how the Iranian Government oppresses women. The reality was left aside as emotions bought the propaganda coming from the box set. The Media acted as the judge, jury and the executioner in her case without stopping to consider or in certain aspects reporting the unaswered questions surrounding her death. One has to ask where was this added coverage when 500 children died in the assault on Gaza? Where was such emotion when the bombs dropped on civilians in the Gaza strip? What happened to humanity when BBC refused to air the Gaza appeal commercial? Where did this garb of judge, jury and executioner disappear to in the light of these crimes? The answer will come with a dose of self righteousness. What you see in this article are two situations with an air of similarity in some aspects around it but what you also see are two vastly different reactions and perceptions from both the Media and the Western Governments, the question remains; why has the aspect of justice and equality been lost? Why the differentiation in responses when both; friend and foe are guilty of the same act of censure?
We live in a world which is connected to the Media, we seek and are content with the surface of everything that is given to us. We refuse to devlve further because we fear. We fear that we may not be comfortable anymore if we find the truth and it does not conform to our beliefs. We fear that we may not fit into the society anymore if we know the truth. Let me finish with a quote from the first Shi’ite Leader Ali ibn Abi Talib [a] who has said ‘Plunge into the depths until you reach the truth’.