By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
The Occupy Wall Street Movement has found an unlikely fan: Iran's government Basij force, whose thuggish members are thought to have been heavily involved in the crackdown that followed the disputed reelection of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in 2008.
"Occupy Oakland" poster invites people to a strike
In their latest move in support of the movement, a number of young Basij members have launched a website that purports to cover news and developments about the movement in order to "fill in the gap by Western media."
The Wall Street Fall website -- with content in both Persian and English -- was launched over the weekend by the head of the Basij militia, Mohammad Reza Naghdi.
"This news website can notably be influential in informing the people living under the sun specially those truth enthusiasts living in the west who are captives of universal Zionist media propaganda," Naghdi was quoted as saying on October 30.
Basij run Wall Street Fall website
Earlier this month, Basij members from Iranian universities staged a rally to denounce what they described as policies employed by the United States and some other Western countries to prevent the people's awakening. (See pictures of the rally here.)
The rally was staged in front of the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which has represented U.S. interests there since the U.S and Iran broke diplomatic ties following the 1979 revolution and subsequent hostage-taking.
Iranian officials have rallied behind the Occupy Wall Street protesters and condemned the "inhumane crackdown" against them. The country's state-controlled media have given extensive coverage to the protests in New York, and other cities.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has claimed that the movement will ultimately bring down capitalism in the United States.
"One problem is that the corruption of capitalism has become clear to the people. Of course this movement might be suppressed, but they cannot destroy the roots of the movement," Khamenei said in an October 12 speech.
Khamenei and other officials have likened the Occupy Wall Street movement to the Arab uprisings that have ousted dictatorships in the region. They have claimed that the alleged assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador to Washington, which the U.S. believes some elements of the Iranian establishment were behind, is an excuse to divert U.S. public attention from the protests.
Tehran has sought to leverage the protests to promote its own interests and worldview. The Occupy Wall Street protests have given the Islamic Republic that is often criticized for human rights abuses, an opportunity to hit back at the U.S. and other countries that routinely condemn human rights violations in Iran.
Basij militia attacking University of Tehran - June 2009.
Basij, a regime supported entity, has had the leading role in suppressing the protests after the 2009 presidential elections.
A member of the Iranian parliament's Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, Mohammad Karim Abedi, said last week that nations should condemn the crackdown on protesters of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Abedi also called on human rights bodies to end their "political silence" and condemn what he described as blatant human rights abuses in the U.S.
Iranian officials also appeared to be sympathetic to London rioters whose rights they said were being violated by the British police forces who confronted them. Officials had then expressed readiness to send a delegation to Britain to investigate "human rights abuses."
Related websites and articles:
Human Rights in Islamic Republic of Iran:
Corruption in Islamic Republic of Iran:
Poverty in Islamic Republic of Iran:
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