Divide & Conquer, with cartoons
Yet again, someone uses the most powerful weapon in the world to stir divisive emotions.
Iran closed the state-run Farsi language newspaper Iran and detained its chief editor and cartoonist on Tuesday for publishing a cartoon that showed a cockroach speaking Azeri and suggested that ethnic Azeris are stupid.Sound familiar?
"Today, they (the U.S. and its allies) are hatching plots. They want to provoke differences, divisions, disappointment ... to prevent the Iranian nation from achieving all of its rights," Ahmadinejad told thousands of people in Khorramshahr in southwestern Iran.* * *
Other Iranian officials were also quick to stress the nation's unity in the standoff with Washington, which accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
"It is clear that the evil hands of foreigners are making efforts to provoke tribal, ethnic, and religious differences under the present circumstances," State Public Prosecutor Ghorban Ali Dorri Najafabadi was quoted Tuesday as saying by state-run media.
Hundreds of Azeris marched on Monday in the northwestern city of Tabriz to protest the cartoon. Some broke windows at the governor's office, and police had to use tear gas to disperse the crowd, witnesses said. The violence was also reported by an independent news agency, ILNA.
Azeris, a Turkic ethnic group, are Iran's largest minority, making up about a quarter of Iran's 70 million people, dominated by ethnic Persians. Azeris speak a Turkic language shared by their brethren in neighboring Azerbaijan.
The cartoon, which ran May 12, showed people from different walks of life - including an athlete and a tradesman - trying to teach the cockroach and he always answers, in Azeri, "What do you mean?"
There was no explanation why the protests broke out more than a week after the cartoon.
A January article in The New Yorker magazine reported that U.S. military operatives were already working in Iran, making contacts with anti-government ethnic minorities and gathering intelligence. Defense Department officials said the article was filled with mistakes but did not deny its basic point. Iran denied that any U.S. agents had entered its territory.Never forget the power the media has to influence minds. The media can be our worst enemy.
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On Tuesday, Interior Minister Mostaf Pourmohammadi warned that opportunists were working in Iran to inflame trouble.
"Some are misusing the situation. Others outside (Iran's) borders are trying to propagate protests through their satellite channels," he said in reference to U.S.-based Iranian opposition television channels.
"We should preserve our vigilance, especially the media ... and not allow, under the current very important situation the country is in now, others who pursue certain intentions to misuse the situation," he said.