In what has become a recurring pattern, American Islamist groups again have turned a blind eye to the misdeeds of the brutal Iranian regime, further calling into question their inconsistent positions on civil rights violators and their tacit support of the radical Iranian government.
Amnesty International released a new report Feb. 28 documenting the growing campaign of repression orchestrated by the regime in Tehran against dissenters in advance of new parliamentary elections.
“The net of repression is widening in Iran,” Amnesty’s description said. “The authorities are arresting filmmakers, bloggers, human rights defenders, women’s rights activists, lawyers, students, journalists, political activists, religious and ethnic minorities – simply for speaking out against the government or expressing views with which the authorities do not agree.”
That was followed by a 36-page report on human rights in Iran issued Wednesday by a United Nations special envoy. It finds and “alarming increase” in executions, which reached 650 people last year, compared to less than 100 people in 2003, the Wall Street Journal reports.
In addition, the report cited arrests of journalists and banned students critical of the government.
Despite the reports’ damning evidence about unjustified arrests, unfair trials, torture, and even executions – some involving minors – the self-proclaimed bastions of civil rights and Muslim freedom in the United States have been silent about Iranian cruelty. When they do speak of Iran, it is to lament the way the Islamic Republic is being treated.
“The problem in the case of Iran is that it is singled out as the threat. We [the U.S.] don’t deal with North Korea the same way we deal with Iran,” Salam al-Marayati, President of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), told a panel on Russia Today’s Cross Talk on Feb. 29. “With other countries, we utilize the IAEA, we use multilateral instruments to deal with the nuclear problem. In this case with Iran, there is no dialogue, there is [sic] no negotiations, it is all confrontational policies that is part of a war mongering mentality here in the U.S. and they’re just waiting for the tripwire and then the machinery of war will begin.”
Ironically, Marayati said in the same appearance that “any change that happens in Iran must come from the people.”
These are the same people being targeted by the government for seeking to enact change. In fact, Human Rights Watch blasted last week’s parliamentary vote as fundamentally unfair, since “opposition leaders are either barred from participating, serving unjust prison sentences, or refusing to participate in what they consider sham elections.”
In the end, candidates loyal to Ayatollah Ali Khameini swept to wins in 75 percent of the parliamentary seats.
In a policy paper on the Iranian nuclear threat released Jan. 30, MPAC urged the United States to tone down talk of military action and also to scale back sanctions against Iran, which, it argues, are hurting civilians. This position ignores the effect these sanctions have had in weakening the Iranian government, making it more vulnerable to internal and external pressure to reform or step down.
Another prominent Islamist group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), has also been shy in commenting on the widespread repression in Iran, only speaking out sporadically in a handful of civil rights cases, mostly involving foreigners (for examples see here or here).
Like MPAC, however, CAIR has instead focused its attention on undermining U.S. policy towards Iran’s nuclear program and casting doubt on the credibility of the U.S. position on this issue.
On Jan. 31, Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR’s Michigan chapter responded to an article in which America’s top intelligence officials identified Iran as a top threat to U.S. cyber security by tweeting, “Funny thing is these are the same reporters who reported w/o questioning if Iraq had WMD. They are doing same w/ Iran.”
CAIR National also posted two articles in the last week that call into question the wisdom of a military strike to neutralize Iran’s nuclear program.
Additionally, CAIR representatives continue to appear on Press TV, the Iranian government’s English-language broadcast outlet. These appearances, including two in late February, are invariably critical of some U.S. policy or of the supposed mistreatment of Muslims in America and feed into Press TV’s anti-U.S. narrative.
On Feb. 22, Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s National Communications Director, was interviewed on Press TV about the recent burning of Qurans in Afghanistan by American troops. Speaking of U.S. authorities, Hooper said, “They are saying they are launching an investigation but unfortunately these investigations often lead nowhere.”
A day earlier, the civil rights manager for CAIR’s New York chapter, Cyrus McGoldrick, told Press TV that surveillance of Muslims by the New York Police Department represents “the end of democracy.” Americans need to “recognize that this is a human rights issue, this is not a Muslim issue, this is a human rights issue and that we really need to reclaim ideals, you know, if they ever existed, have now been fully overturned,” he added.
Forgetting the irony of a Muslim civil rights manager appearing on an Iranian media outlet accusing U.S. law enforcement of human rights violations, it is also interesting that groups like CAIR and MPAC are sensitive to civil rights issues in some instances, but not when it comes to Iran.
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