Iran’s ‘war on terror’

Iran’s ‘war on terror’

I spent the weekend in Tehran to attend the “Press Union of the Islamic World” meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to encourage people working in the media from more than 40 Muslim countries and members of Muslim minorities from different countries to join efforts to fight against the hegemony of the Western media.

The Iranian Culture Ministry hosted the event and organized an extensive exhibition of foreign press and union conferences to denounce the current media hegemony which, in their words, “manipulates hearts and minds” in accordance with “the world capitalist system.”

The Iranians have chosen to be offensive rather than defensive concerning the West’s anti-Iranian discourse and policies. They are sarcastic enough to reverse the discourse of the “war on terror.” An “expert on terrorism,” Hassan Abbasi, stated that al-Qaeda is only one form of terrorism among many others which have no reference to Islam. According to his view, many problems which stem from the world capitalist system can be classified under different names of terrorism, since they threaten human life and wellbeing. Eco-terrorism, economic terrorism, tele-terrorism, cyberterrorism and drug terrorism are classified as some of the various forms of terrorism.

In fact, the whole idea behind the conference was to emphasize the need to question and fight against “neo-” or “post-” forms of Western colonialism. If there hadn’t been references to Islamic solidarity from time to time and an emphasis on “Zionism,” the event would not have been much different than any other conference on colonialism and the West’s hegemony and could easily have been held in any Latin American country. In fact, the message was carefully crafted to be universal with references to “forms of oppression of humanity in general” and “human suffering which makes no distinction among religions and races.” Finally, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad confirmed this point by stating that Western people are also the victim of the world capitalist system.

Despite the efforts to avoid discussing the “Arab Spring” directly, it was one of the central themes. Iranians have been extremely cautious of not being critical of the so-called “Arab awakening,” and formally supporting the popular movements which seek more freedom. Nevertheless, Ahmadinejad finally stated that “it is important to ask, who is going and who is coming?” to be able to analyze the events correctly. I should also note that the session including a presidential speech opened with a video showing the late Moammar Gadhafi with Western leaders and Egypt’s former leader, Hosni Mubarak, shaking hands with U.S President Barack Obama. Ahmadinejad stated that the same crimes which were committed by the previous leadership are being committed by the new ones in Libya under NATO. He warned of the danger of NATO coming eastward to Iran, Iraq and Syria, emphasizing that Iran does not think of interfering in any country’s internal affairs, but only wants to point to the danger of neo-colonialism.

Interestingly enough, there was no mention of Turkey and almost no representation from Turkey. Unfortunately, there was no chance to ask Ahmadinejad what he currently thinks of Turkey.