Dispatches from Moon of Alabama
U.S. Runs Headscarf Campaign Against Iran
Your tax dollars at work.
In June 2017 the CIA created a new “mission center” for attacking Iran:
The Iran Mission Center will bring together analysts, operations personnel and specialists from across the CIA to bring to bear the range of the agency’s capabilities, including covert action, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
The first visible results of the new center’s work was the hijacking of economic protests in Iran at the end of last year. The slogans and symbols used and the specific western media support lets one assume that exile MEK terrorists and monarchist organizations were involved in the affair. The demonstrations immediately turned violent and lost all public backing. They petered out, as predicted, within a few days.
On December 28, the very same day the demonstrations started, this picture made the rounds:
The anti-scarf campaign is run by Masih Alinejad who works for Voice of America‘s (anti-)Iranian TV program and other U.S. “regime change” media outlets.
The woman is an interesting asset. Her real name is Masoumeh Alinejad but she uses Masih, the Persian language word for “anointed” or “Messiah”, as her artist name. She is now 41 years old and lives in New York. She got first noticed as a rabble rousing journalist in Iran. According to a 2009 New Yorker portrait:
Alinejad was a known quantity; in 2005, she was expelled from covering the parliament after she disclosed the salaries of populist deputies who had falsely claimed to have taken pay cuts.
She worked for the Iranian newspaper Etemad-e Melli which was financed by Mehdi Karroubi. (In June 2009 Karroubi lost the Iranian presidential election against Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. Karroubi started the Green “color revolution” protests claiming election fraud even though all available pre- and post-election surveys confirmed Ahmedinejad’s win. Mehdi Karroubi has since been under house arrest.)
According to Time magazine Alinejad “spent much of 2007 in London studying English”. In 2008 Etemad-e Melli published a slander piece of hers against then President Ahmedinejad. She compared his voters to starving fish waiting for bread crumbs. It was soon retracted and Karroubi publicly apologized for it. By then “she had been invited to study English for a year at Oxford”, according to the New Yorker. She used that time to make contact with U.S. officials. She wrote a letter requesting an interview with U.S. President Obama:
An official at the U.S. Embassy in London agreed to forward the letter to Washington, and invited her to the Embassy for a meeting. The political officer she met with had a thick file that held all the available English-language press clippings about her. But his manner was “respectful,” she recalls. “He said, ‘We know who you are. You are a tough lady.’”
Her file and the interview must have satisfied the “political officer”. Soon after that she received a visa for the United States. Her Wikipedia entry adds:
She was interviewed by VOA, which was shown together with parts of the videos she had made, called ‘A Storm of Fresh Air.’ In 2010 she and a group of Iranian writers and intellectuals established ‘Iran Neda’ foundation. After the presidential election in Iran in 2009, she published a novel called ‘A Green Date’. Alinejad graduated in 2011 with a degree in Communications, Media and Culture from Oxford Brookes University.
She has been working for Voice of America since at least 2013 from London as part of the VoA Farsi language show OnTen.[dropcap]H[/dropcap]er Oxford public relations degree is truly justified. Since 2011 the Guardian quoted or mentioned her some 35 times! That must be a record. Wikipedia names the Iranian-British Bloomberg writer Kambiz Foroohar as her spouse. His Twitter account retweets and promotes his wife’s campaign.
In 2014 Alinejad moved to New York and started her first campaign against a public law in Iran which makes it compulsory for women to cover their hair in public. The my stealthy freedom web and social media campaign was supposed to incite women in Iran to take pictures of themselves in public but without a scarf. It was heavily propagandized in various western media. In 2015 she received a prize from the notorious Zionist lobby organization UN Watch. The latest item posted on the first headscarf campaign website is from September 6 2015. It has since been dormant.
Since 2015 Alinejad has her own show Tablet on VoA Farsi announced as the “15-min prime time show” that would be “focuses on cultural and social issues involving young people in Iran and the United States.” Public contracts show that she receives $85.600 per annum from the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors. The BBG is running U.S. influence media like Voice of America in English and foreign languages. It is officially controlled by the U.S. State Department.
In February 2017 Alinejad publicly lauded the French right wing candidate Marie Le Pen for refusing to wear a head scarf while visiting a religious official in Lebanon. She changed her post after being criticized for pandering to far right Islamophobia.
Her public anti-head scarf campaign, dormant since September 2015, was revived via a public relations push in May 2017. It was renamed from “My Stealthy Freedom” to “White Wednesday” The BBC posted a marketing piece about it.
BBC PROPAGANDA. ALWAYS HAPPY TO HELP ITS AMERICAN COUSINS. Using the hashtag #whitewednesdays, citizens have been posting pictures and videos of themselves wearing white headscarves or pieces of white clothing as symbols of protest. The idea is the brainchild of Masih Alinejad, founder of My Stealthy Freedom, an online movement opposed to the mandatory dress code. The BBC picture carries the following caption: “Women are wearing white and discarding headscarves in protest against Iran’s dress code.”
Newsweek also published a PR write up. Both pieces claim that the campaign received a great social media response but its official announcement on Facebook shows only 1,400 likes and 316 shares. That is a very meager response. The Reuters PR rewrite says:
Western media cheerfully amplify Alinejad’s sleazy work. This photo caption reads: “Some of the videos, which are subtitled by volunteers, have several hundred shares on the My Stealthy Freedom Facebook page that has more than a million followers.”
Everyone should know by now that the number of followers is not a valid measure. Followers can be bought by the 10,000nds for small money. A video I recently posted on Twitter about U.S. soldiers shooting an Afghan truck driver was retweeted (shared) 900 times, more often than the videos of that greatly promoted anti-scarf campaign. How relevant then can that campaign be?
The main Facebook page of the campaign has some 2,800 “Timeline photos” but only a dozen of those are of women taking off their scarfs in public. The real response in Iran for the campaign is thus completely insignificant. Over the last days some six of probably 50 million women in the Islamic Republic have allegedly taken part in it. The marketing noise in the “western” media about the campaign is in reverse proportion to its effect in Iran.
Ms. Alinejad opposes the political system in Iran. She is working for the U.S. government and runs public relations campaigns which are designed to (a.) defame the Islamic Republic in the “west” and to (b.) raise internal dissent in Iran. The defaming part is working well but the campaign seems to have little response in Iran itself. That is not astonishing. Under the last two presidents social restrictions in Iran have been gradually lifted. [Update: As several people have noted in the comments the authorities in Tehran are no longer prosecuting the lack of a headscarf, but the law that makes them mandatory is still on the books.] The foreign driven anti-head scarf campaign only helps hardliners who see it as undue western influence and call for harsh measures against people falling for it. The campaign is not in the interest of the women in Iran:
“Iranian women have decades of experience in organizing in Iran for change. It is when their movement has been politicized by western feminists, especially those tied to the right, that the situation becomes more dire for them on the ground,” Bajoghli told Newsweek.
All of the above is public information and just a few clicks away. But U.S. media still try to hide the U.S. government connection. The New York Times just published a piece about one of those few Iranian women who reacted to the campaign. Thomas Erdbrink, the Times correspondent in Tehran, writes:
The first protest in December took place on a Wednesday and seemed connected to the White Wednesday campaign, an initiative by Masih Alinejad, an exiled Iranian journalist and activist living in the United States. Ms. Alinejad has reached out to Iranian women on Persian-language satellite television …
There are probably 150 Persian language satellite TV stations. At no point does Erdbrink explain that the TV station Alinejad is working for is the U.S. government financed and controlled VoA Farsi. Nowhere does the NYT piece mention U.S. government influence. Instead we get this:
Hard-liners say that foreign intelligence agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency, have been nurturing protests in Iran
The hard-liners have not provided proof to back up their claims.
Erdbrink of course knows that Alinejad is working for VoA. That fact alone evidently confirms that the campaign is driven by a U.S. agency which is specifically tasked to manipulate people in foreign countries. Over the last three years Masih Alinejad has received at least $230,000 in BBG/U.S. government contracts while running her campaign. To then claim that “hard-liners have not provided proof” for their claims of foreign government influence is just laughable. The proof is there for anyone to see.
A Newsweek piece from early January uses a similar obfuscation. It refers to Masih Alinejad as “an Iranian women’s rights activist” without mentioning at all that it is her daily well paid job to create anti-Iranian propaganda on behalf of the U.S. government.
Voice of America has only a small viewership in Iran. The VoA campaign is mostly run on Twitter and Facebook which are both not available in Iran. It can hardly have any significant impact within the country. It is certainly less than its hundreds of mentions in western media let one assume. But it helps to foster a hostile atmosphere in the “western” public against the government and political structure of Iran.
Whatever one’s stance, it’s hard to avoid [the conclusion that resistances to mandatory hijab in Iran are fetishised in Western coverage because they impose upon such struggles a certain self-image of Western civilisation as “enlightened” and the “saviour of brown women from brown men”.
Another Iranian, not yet working for a U.S. propaganda outlet, posted this response to the anti-scarf campaign:
Posted by b on January 30, 2018 at 01:12 PM | Permalink
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