MSM: Propaganda Machine for the Iranian Regime

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Mourner's carry the casket of Qasem Soleimani in Karbala (Photo: MOHAMMED SAWAF/AFP via Getty Images)
Mourners carry the casket of Qasem Soleimani in Karbala (Photo: MOHAMMED SAWAF/AFP via Getty Images)

Editor’s note: Since the killing of arch-terrorist Qasem Soleimani by an American drone attack, the mainstream media (MSM) has been acting as a propaganda machine for Iran, fawning over the executor of its terror strategy — Soleimani who has, for decades, wreaked havoc on, maimed and killed thousands.

Between those on the political Left who will oppose anything simply for the reason that it was done by President Trump – including the killing of arguably the world’s worst terrorist — to European countries who, with the ink barely dry on the 2015 nuclear agreement, rushed to do business with the malevolent Iranian regime and reap millions in the process, there are plenty in the mainstream media who are only too happy to shill for the mullahs.

For example, The New York Times employs journalist Farnaz Fassihi, who churned out tweets praising Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s “moderate president,” parroted the regime’s line that ballistic missiles had hit Ain Al-Assad, America’s largest base in Iraq, and culminated in posting a video of Soleimani reciting poetry.

Even today, after the last two days of protests against the regime in the wake of the Ukranian Airlines scandal which drew massive  crowds (and which called Soleimani a terrorist and demanded the resignation of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei), the MSM was still acting like a propaganda machine for the regime.

Shilling for the Iranian regime by the MSM sources was most pronounced during Soleimani’s funeral, where the MSM propaganda machine breathlessly reported the size of the crowds that came out, confirming their pronouncement that the “fallen general” was a “beloved national hero.”

Yet missing from their reporting was an investigation into why so many people lined the streets for a terrorist’s funeral.

The following is an Iranian insider’s look at how the government manipulated, coerced and forced the Iranian public to attend Soleimani’s funeral:

With the killing of Qassem Soleimani, Khamenei lost his most important handler and lever in the Middle East. Khamenei did not say anything at the funeral, he just cried.

At great expense, he had the casket of this butcher driven around the cities of Mashhad, Ahwaz, Qom, Tehran, and Kerman. Not even Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Revolution, was given such honors when he died in 1989.

In fact, the regime’s propaganda machine, which was in full force for Soleimani, was more reminiscent of that of the Nazi’s after Reinhardt Heydrich, one of the prime architects of the Holocaust, died in June 1942. Like Heydrich, Soleimani was the cruel executioner and right-hand man of his leader.

Since Soleimani’s death was a major blow to the Islamic Republic (militarily and politically), the regime tried to convert his funeral into a mechanism for injecting fresh blood into its propaganda machine.

But the mass turnout at his funeral and the “spontaneous grief” were an illusion. Here are some of the tricks used to gather the large crowds as reported by Iranian citizens on the ground:

  • The regime told students at Iran’s University of Sanaye they were required to attend Khamenei’s prayer over Soleimani’s body at the University of Tehran to get passing grades this semester.
  • Government centers schools, and colleges were closed. The regime stated that it would offer free breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as free transportation to attend Soleiman’s burial ceremony in Shiraz.

But some of their tricks backfired. For example, 1,000 servings of food were given to hungry people, who promptly ate and left the ceremony early. Regime officials said, “We made a mistake. We should have had the ceremony first and then have given the food.”

  • In Mashhad, a witness reported, “The crowd in Mashhad was brought in by bus from a number of different villages. From our village, which is 240 km away, they brought 150 families in buses, promising them three meals a day and free accommodation.The witness also said that the regime handed out photos of Soleimani and asked people to put the photos on the windshields of their cars, but the majority of people simply threw the photos out of their windows.”Another witness said that most of the personnel of Rajaii Shahr Prison were also dispatched to the funeral.
  • The Ministry of Education instructed all teachers that each student must compose an essay on Soleimani, light candles and cry in their classrooms.

A school principal in Tehran telephoned each member of his staff and told them, “Whoever is at the funeral of Qassem Soleimani should take a Selfie, he/she will have both an afterlife reward and 200 tomans (rials) from school.”

These are just a few of the hundreds of incidences that Iranian citizens reported.

A spectacle, yes. Based on any true sentiment by the majority of the mourners? No.

The regime has tried hard to portray Soleimani as a “national hero.” Khamenei’s representative in the Quds Force said that “Soleimani did not receive a rial or a dollar for his missions,” yet everyone knows that Soleimani had a huge network of funds available to him — from the IRGC to the municipalities, the Endowment Organization to the Red Crescent and the Ministry of Defense’s Quds Force. He even had an independent financial network.

Soleimani could distribute cash and weapons to his forces within 24 hours. He was the number one man in regional diplomacy in the Islamic Republic. He was a drug dealer who fed his Quds terrorist force with drug money.

In contrast to the regime’s elaborate and expensive ceremonies, as soon as the families of those killed in the Iraqi uprising against Iran announced they would hold a memorial ceremony on December 25, 400,000 armed forces came into the streets to stop people from participating.

However, in various Iraqi cities, the slogan “I am an Iraqi” was shouted as a curse against Soleimani.

By their actions, the ordinary people in Iran and Iraq demonstrated the truth that Qasem Soleimani was a brutal, ruthless butcher who terrorized the whole region.

Only the mullahs and diehards of the regime — and those whose paybacks  he guaranteed — will miss him. Time will tell just how much.



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Hassan Mahmoud

Hassan Mahmoudi is a human rights advocate specializing in political and economic issues relating to Iran and the Middle East. @hassan_mahmou1

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