Friday, December 09, 2005

The double standards of Western media concerning prisoners

Amir Taheri: Bianca the torture expert

But there was an even bigger reason why I was interested in the occasion. The FPA had decided to award its very first prize for a dialogue of cultures to Akbar Ganji, an Iranian investigative reporter who is on a hunger strike in Tehran's Evin Prison.

Together with several colleagues, I had been trying for months to persuade the Western media to take an interest in Ganji, a former Khomeinist revolutionary who is now campaigning for human rights and democracy. But we never got anywhere because of one small hitch: President Bush had spoken publicly in support of Ganji and called for his immediate release.

And that, as far as a good part of the Western media is concerned, amounts to a kiss of death. How could newspapers that portray Bush as the world's biggest "violator of human rights" endorse his call in favor of Ganji?

To overcome that difficulty, some of Ganji's friends had tried to persuade him to make a few anti-American, more specifically anti-Bush, pronouncements so that the Western media could adopt him as a "hero-martyr." Two years ago, similar advice had been given to Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian lawyer who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She was made to understand one stark fact of contemporary life: You will not be accepted as a champion of human rights unless you attack the United States.


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