"Iran was not what we had thought"

Kourosh Ziabari

Black propaganda against Iran

A hawkish and moronic former leader has repeatedly categorized Iran as a part of the so-called "Axis of Evil".[*] The relentless and incessant attacks of mainstream media, their psychological warfare, may over the years have had an effect -Iran now is seen by many as an insecure and potentially dangerous region.

In spite of this, each year thousands of Western tourists take their chances and travel to Iran to see for themselves what the realities are. What they find is a peaceful and magnificent Iran.

Many of the American, French, German, British and Australian citizens who travel to Iran to discover the veiled face of this ancient land admit that Iran had not been what they had thought. They, and especially the western journalists and artists, usually are surprised by and astonished at the splendor of Iran, its cultural heritage, industrial advancements and natural beauties. As a consequence, they obviously are in a better position to form an opinion, to see through the media generated distortions and to find out what the country really is like.

Having visited Iran, they also have somewhat similar viewpoints on what they have experienced. -Many of them have found that their preconceptions and prejudgments before they went there had been absolutely unfounded and that they simply had been wrong about the country. This would suggest that many Westerners do not have sufficient information about Iran, about its ancient civilization, history and contemporary developments. This probably is because of the fact that Western corporate media are portraying Iran in a hostile manner. Indoctrination of the global audiences seems to be part of the agenda of certain governments.

The Western mainstream media clearly are trying to to demonize Iran. This is what they are trying to do. They never run a single documentary about, let's say, the ancient buildings of Iran. -They never show the glorious mosques and palaces of Iran. They never introduce the young geniuses and talents of Iran to western audiences. They never let anyone know about the scientific and artistic breakthroughs of Iranians, let alone discuss them. They never allow people to know that historically Iran has been the land of architecture, carpets, saffron and pistachio. Their only agenda is to shrewdly withhold from the public whatever would position Iran in a favourable light and they maliciously exaggerate whatever is negative about this ancient country.

In April 2009, a group of 9 American movie stars and directors headed by Sid Ganis, the former President of Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, traveled to Iran to share experiences with the Iranian cinema activists and filmmakers. Upon returning to the U.S., Sid Ganis gave an interview to the Foreign Policy Journal and confessed that Iran was entirely different than what he had imagined:

"We were met with an incredibly warm and hospitable welcome by the filmmakers of Iran, and the people in general. Everywhere we went, people approached us to talk and take pictures with us… Iranians are very sophisticated, educated and culturally literate people and they have access to far more western media and technology than any of us had realized."

"Iran has been so difficult to visit for Americans, and there are so many preconceptions about it, that it’s hard to get an accurate picture without actually going there yourself. Every day, and virtually every hour, we encountered something that was interesting, extraordinary or surprising about Iran," said Ganis.

Earlier, a group of tourists from New Zealand, headed by the New Zealand Herald journalist Jill Worrall, also had traveled to Iran and had visited its large, attractive cities, including Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz and Kish island.

In an interview with the Finland's Ovi Magazine, Jill Worrall described her feelings about Iran and the psychological warfare which is targeted toward its people:

"I have never believed the "axis of evil" label, specially given that the phrase was coined by someone for whom I have absolutely no respect and certainly no confidence in terms of his opinions. I've spent more than 20 years as a journalist and realized long ago that what is portrayed in the media and what is reality is often very different. I also believe that before you make any comment about a country, or for that matter any person, you should visit it first, see it for yourself and talk to the people there."

"I absolutely agree that Iran is the most misunderstood country in the world – in my experience at least but I suspect even among the countries I haven’t visited none gets quite as much bad press as Iran. It’s true that even many New Zealanders, who are legendary for being well-traveled, often think I’m going to Iraq and I’m afraid as you well know many people often mistakenly refer to it as an Arab country," she added.

Similar statements and declarations have been made by a number of other Western figures several times. The American author and TV personality Rick Steves who traveled to Iran in November 2009 writes in his personal website:

"Esfahan, Iran's "second city" with 3.5 million people, is a showcase of ancient Persian splendor. One of the finest cities in Islam, and famous for its dazzling blue-tiled domes and romantic bridges, the city is also just plain enjoyable. I'm not surprised that in Iran, this is the number-one honeymoon destination."

Another notable American who weighed in on Iran and his experience of traveling to this marvelous land was Shannon Kelley, the independent movie consultant and the Director of Programming of the Morelia International Film Festival in Morelia who attended the first edition of Cinema Verité International Documentary Film Festival in Tehran as a guest. Kelley believes that Iran is a wonderful country:

"I expected that some conversations might be impossible, or that I might be viewed with hostility. I attribute this to the excesses of the international press; but in the contrary, I found a community of like-minded, hospitable, curious people, including complete strangers who approached me with great energy and kindness. I spent a woefully short amount of time in Iran, but my point of view on what is possible between us has dramatically shifted, for the better!" [The Image of Iran Is Distorted in Mass Media]

Anyway, the people whom we just cited were only few among the thousands of those who come to Iran and find their expectations to be totally wrong. The stream of black propaganda and demonization may continue; however, conscience and morality are the values which will be cherished by those who are seeking truth, and the truth of Iran, the real Iran, needs to be told.

[*] "Axis of Evil" speech written by David Frum and Richard Perle


Kourosh Ziabari is Iranian media correspondent, freelance journalist and the author of Book 7+1. He is a contributing writer for websites and magazines in the Netherlands, Canada, Italy, Hong Kong, Bulgaria, South Korea, Belgium, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. He was once a member of Stony Brook University Publications’ editorial team and Media Left magazine’s contributing writer, as well as a contributing writer for Finland’s Award-winning Ovi Magazine. As a young Iranian journalist, he has been interviewed and quoted by several mainstream media, including BBC World Service, PBS Media Shift, the Media Line network, Deutsch Financial Times and L.A. Times. Currently, he works for the Foreign Policy Journal as a media correspondent. He is a member of Tlaxcala Translators Network for Linguistic Diversity and World Student Community for Sustainable Development. You can write to Kourosh Ziabari at: kziabari@gmail.com [Info from salemnews.com and mycatbirdseat.com]




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