U.S. Runs Headscarf Campaign Against Iran

A U.S. government funded public relation campaign tries to incite women in Iran to break the law. The reporting of the campaign in western media is unproportionate to its effects in Iran. The professional propagandist who runs the campaign on behalf of the U.S. government is introduced as ordinary “women’s rights activist”. The larger propaganda scheme and the U.S. government influence in it are willfully ignored.

In June 2017 the CIA created a new “mission center” for attacking Iran:

The Iran Mission Center will bring together analysts, operations personnel and specialists from across the CIA to bring to bear the range of the agency’s capabilities, including covert action, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

The first visible results of the new center’s work was the hijacking of economic protests in Iran at the end of last year. The slogans and symbols used and the specific western media support lets one assume that exile MEK terrorists and monarchist organizations were involved in the affair. The demonstrations immediately turned violent and lost all public backing. They petered out, as predicted, within a few days.

On December 28, the very same day the demonstrations started, this picture made the rounds:

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A woman in Tehran defied the law by taking off her headscarf. The pictures and a video showed that people around mostly ignored the stunt. Only after the photo made the rounds in “western” media, was the woman taken in for questioning but later released. The picture and video was first posted by @masihpooyan:

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The start for the demonstrations and the posting of this campaign picture on the very same day was likely not just a coincidence. The campaign to induce women in Iran to take of their mandatory scarf has been an on-and-off western influence operations since at least 2014. It had been dormant for a while until the very same day regular demonstrations over legitimate economic issues were turned into anti-government riots.

The anti-scarf campaign is run by Masih Alinejad who works for Voice of America‘s (anti-)Iranian TV program and other U.S. “regime change” media outlets.

The woman is an interesting asset. Her real name is Masoumeh Alinejad but she uses Masih, the Persian language word for “anointed” or “Messiah”, as her artist name. She is now 41 years old and lives in New York. She got first noticed as a rabble rousing journalist in Iran. According to a 2009 New Yorkerportrait:

Alinejad was a known quantity; in 2005, she was expelled from covering the parliament after she disclosed the salaries of populist deputies who had falsely claimed to have taken pay cuts.

She worked for the Iranian newspaper Etemad-e Melli which was financed by Mehdi Karroubi. (In June 2009 Karroubi lost the Iranian presidential election against Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. Karroubi started the Green “color revolution” protests claiming election fraud even though all available pre- and post-election surveys confirmed Ahmedinejad’s win. Mehdi Karroubi has since been under house arrest.)

According toTime magazine Alinejad “spent much of 2007 in London studying English”. In 2008 Etemad-e Melli published a slander piece of hers against then President Ahmedinejad. She compared his voters to starving fish waiting for bread crumbs. It was soon retracted and Karroubi publicly apologized for it. By then “she had been invited to study English for a year at Oxford”, according to the New Yorker. She used that time to make contact with U.S. officials. She wrote a letter requesting an interview with U.S. President Obama:

An official at the U.S. Embassy in London agreed to forward the letter to Washington, and invited her to the Embassy for a meeting. The political officer she met with had a thick file that held all the available English-language press clippings about her. But his manner was “respectful,” she recalls. “He said, ‘We know who you are. You are a tough lady.’”

Her file and the interview must have satisfied the “political officer”. Soon after that she received a visa for the United States. Her Wikipedia entry adds:

She was interviewed by VOA, which was shown together with parts of the videos she had made, called ‘A Storm of Fresh Air.’ In 2010 she and a group of Iranian writers and intellectuals established ‘IranNeda’ foundation. After the presidential election in Iran in 2009, she published a novel called ‘A Green Date’.

Alinejad graduated in 2011 with a degree in Communication, Media and Culture from Oxford Brookes University.

She has been working for Voice of America since at least 2013 from London as part of the VoA Farsi language show OnTen.

Her Oxford public relation degree is truly justified. Since 2011 the Guardian quoted or mentioned her some 35 times! That must be a record. Wikipedia names the Iranian-British Bloomberg writer Kambiz Foroohar as her spouse. His Twitter account retweets and promotes his wife’s campaign.

In 2014 Alinejad moved to New York and started her first campaign against a public law in Iran which makes it compulsory for women to cover their hair in public. The my stealthy freedom web and social media campaign was supposed to incite women In Iran to take pictures of themselves in public but without a scarf. It was heavily propagandized in variouswesternmedia. In 2015 she received a prize from the notorious Zionist lobby organization UN Watch. The latest item posted on the first headscarf campaign website is from September 6 2015. It has since been dormant.

Alinejad claimed severaltimes that she was slandered by Iranian media. I have seen no evidence for that claim but would not be astonished to find that an agent working for a foreign government, which is openly attempting to overthrow the Iranian political system, is somewhat disliked in that country.

Since 2015 Alinejad has her own show Tablet on VoA Farsiannounced as the “15-min prime time show” that would be “focuses on cultural and social issues involving young people in Iran and the United States.” Public contracts show that she receives $85.600 per annum from the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors. The BBG is running U.S. influence media like Voice of America in English and foreign languages. It is officially controlled by the U.S. State Department.

In February 2017 Alinejad publicly lauded the French right wing candidate Marie Le Pen for rejecting to wear a head scarf while visiting a religious official in Lebanon. She changed her post after being criticized for pandering to far right Islamophobia.

Her public anti-head scarf campaign, dormant since September 2015, was revived via a public relation push in May 2017. It was renamed from “My Stealthy Freedom” to “White Wednesday” The BBC posted a marketing piece about it.

Using the hashtag #whitewednesdays, citizens have been posting pictures and videos of themselves wearing white headscarves or pieces of white clothing as symbols of protest.

The idea is the brainchild of Masih Alinejad, founder of My Stealthy Freedom, an online movement opposed to the mandatory dress code.

Newsweek also published a PR write up. Both pieces claim that the campaign received a great social media response but its official announcement on Facebook shows only 1,400 likes and 316 shares. That is a very meager response. The Reuters PR rewrite says:

Some of the videos, which are subtitled by volunteers, have several hundred shares on the My Stealthy Freedom Facebook page that has more than a million followers.

Everyone should know by now that the number of followers is not a valid measure. Followers can be bought by the 10,000nds for small money. A video I recently posted on Twitter about U.S. soldiers shooting an Afghan truck driver was retweeted (shared) 900 times, more often than the videos of that greatly promoted anti-scarf campaign. How relevant then can that campaign be?

The main Facebook page of the campaign has some 2,800 “Timeline photos” but only a dozen of those are of women taking off their scarfs in public. The real response in Iran for the campaign is thus completely insignificant. Over the last days some six of probably 50 million women in the Islamic Republic have allegedly taken part in it. The marketing noise in the “western” media about the campaign is in reverse proportion to its effect in Iran.

Ms. Alinejad opposes the political system in Iran. She is working for the U.S. government and runs public relation campaigns which are designed to (a.) defame the Islamic Republic in the “west” and to (b.) raise internal dissent in Iran. The defaming part is working well but the campaign seems to have little response in Iran itself. That is not astonishing. Under the last two presidents social restrictions in Iran have been gradually lifted. [Update: As several people have noted in the comments the authorities in Tehran are no longer prosecuting the lack of a headscarf, but the law that makes them mandatory is still on the books.] The foreign driven anti-head scarf campaign only helps hardliners who see it as undue western influence and call for harsh measures against people falling for it. The campaign is not in the interest of the women in Iran:

“Iranian women have decades of experience in organizing in Iran for change. It is when their movement has been politicized by western feminists, especially those tied to the right, that the situation becomes more dire for them on the ground,” Bajoghli told Newsweek.

All of the above is public information and just a few clicks away. But U.S. media still try to hide the U.S. government connection. The New York Times just published a piece about one of those few Iranian women who reacted to the campaign. Thomas Erdbrink, the Times correspondent in Tehran, writes:

The first protest in December took place on a Wednesday and seemed connected to the White Wednesday campaign, an initiative by Masih Alinejad, an exiled Iranian journalist and activist living in the United States. Ms. Alinejad has reached out to Iranian women on Persian-language satellite television …

There are probably 150 Persian language satellite TV stations. At no point does Erdbrink explain that the TV station Alinejad is working for is the U.S. government financed and controlled VoA Farsi. Nowhere does the NYT piece mention U.S. government influence. Instead we get this:

Hard-liners say that foreign intelligence agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency, have been nurturing protests in Iran

The hard-liners have not provided proof to back up their claims.

Erdbrink of course knows that Alinejad is working for VoA. That fact alone evidently confirms that the campaign is driven by a U.S. agency which is specifically tasked to manipulate people in foreign countries. Over the last three years Masih Alinejad has received at least $230,000 in BBG/U.S. government contracts while running her campaign. To then claim that “hard-liners have not provided proof” for their claims of foreign government influence is just laughable. The proof is there for anyone to see.

A Newsweek piece from early January uses a similar obfuscation. It refers to Masih Alinejad as “an Iranian women’s rights activist” without mentioning at all that it is her daily well paid job to create anti-Iranian propaganda on behalf of the U.S. government.

Voice of America has only a small viewership in Iran. The VoA campaign is mostly run on Twitter and Facebook which are both not available in Iran. It can hardly have any significant impact within the country. It is certainly less than its hundreds of mentions in western media let one assume. But it helps to foster a hostile atmosphere in the “western” public against the government and political structure of Iran.

The historian Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdisees an additional, deeper motive for this campaign:

Whatever one’s stance, it’s hard to avoid conclusion that resistances to mandatory hijab in Iran are fetishised in Western coverage because they impose upon such struggles a certain self-image of Western civilisation as “enlightened” and the “saviour of brown women from brown men”.

Another Iranian, not yet working for a U.S. propaganda outlet, posted this response to the anti-scarf campaign:

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Are there any “enlightened saviors” who will sponsor his campaign against the mandatory wearing of pants?


Source: Moon of Alabama

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