Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Internet myths

An email is circulating again with some pretty gruesome appearing pictures showing a child apparently being punished for purportedly stealing bread in a market in Iran. It causes great offence in Iran where the pictures may originate and actually show a hustler who was using this set up scene to hustle money from bystanders. Snopes actually has the full set of the pictures which includes the final one showing the boy crying but otherwise uninjured.

I have done a bit more digging on this and have learned that under current Iranian law anyone doing this to a child would face a very stiff jail term themselves. It is believed in Iran that these pictures were made in Afghanistan where there are some very unpleasant practices involving children in some parts of the country. Iranian law actually forbids the awarding of severe punishments to children under the age of puberty which in Iran is set at 15 for boys and no Sharia court will award amputation or mutilation, both of which are "ultimate" sanctions, on a child or even on an adult for a minor offence. Yes, there have been some very harsh sentences handed down in Iran, usually on adults and usually for crimes which would make a splash in most of our "Red Top" tabloids.

I am not an apologist for the Iranian regime and I have good reason to know what it is like to work there and visit. I am not an apologist for Islam or the Sharia, the bulk of which is a sensible legal code along similar lines to the French Code Napoleon. What I do find distasteful is the presentation of something less than truthful and biased as "the truth" in an attempt to stir up passions against a group, nation or religion. This is the origin of the bulk of anti-Semitic scribblings and in Muslim countries it is the origin of almost all the anti-Christian propaganda. There is no excuse for Christians to respond in kind.

This is how wars originate. We in the West have to recognise that many of the cultures that we find difficult to grasp, find us equally baffling and in some instances totally unacceptable. Iran was civilised long before any western nation and has seen invaders come and invaders go. They are proud of their heritage and trying to find their own way forward while clinging to values we in the west do not share. But then we cling to values they find conflict with their understanding of the world. And I say again, I do not approve of much that I see there, but I also believe that there is no mileage and standing on the sidelines and accusing them of being uncivilised because they don't do things our way.

And less Goebbels style propaganda on all sides would be a good starting point to actually get some understanding between us!


  1. I'm not a fan of propaganda meant solely to inflame passions of the gullible. Let's hope this goes away quickly.

  2. I don't think it will. Worse is the fact that the European media are starting to spread a new set of "Blood Libels" by publishing claims that the Israeli Army is "harvesting" organs from abducted Palestinians. No evidence exists for this, just a bunch of accusations from unreliable sources, yet no qualification is ever published when these are repeated by a frankly anti-Semitic press. Not of course helped by the arrest recently of a number of Jewish politicians and religious leaders in the US for money laundering - and selling human organs according to US press reports.