News from Tehran

Fear not, all you thousands of EuroSavant fans, whether on Twitter, by RSS, or simply frequent direct visitors to the site! While I’m always on the look-out for news of quirky Euro-events that I can pass on to you (see, for example, immediately below), especially if they provide fertile breeding-ground for puns, I do also regularly treat the major news of the day when I can add to the discussion a new insight or perspective as gleaned from the European press.

As of this Sunday, the world’s burning news is of course the recent election in Iran, the apparent plot by the authorities in that country to steal it, and the people’s reaction thereto. Unfortunately, all of this is occurring so far over a weekend, which might be another dastardly trick by the current Tehran regime designed to limit take-up of the story by the regular European press, some parts of which do not work on Sunday at all (although there’s also word that the American MSM has been similarly slow off the starting-blocks).

Still, some European papers are reporting on the situation in Iran already, including Berlin’s Tageszeitung (or “taz”). Although its report – attributed to news agencies – is entitled Mass disturbances on Tehran’s streets, the text makes clear that that refers to Saturday and that, as of Sunday morning, things are calm again. Still, some of the results it reports include the detention of some 100 opposition figures, the beating of a TV cameraman from the Italian network RAI3 (and confiscation of his film; all by the security forces, of course), and a gruff statement on the situation from German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, which among other things terms the violence by the security forces against demonstrators as “unacceptable.” (But what struck me in particular about this report is how the “taz” reveals once again its extreme left-wing political coloration: in a discussion of presidential challenger Mir Hussein Moussavi, it brings up how he had proven himself a “good economist” in the past, when he was prime minister, by his imposition of food-rationing and price-controls!)

The French Libération, on the other hand, has somewhat of a different take on today’s (Sunday’s) situation, summarized in its article’s title: Iran: The riots have begun again this Sunday in Tehran. That newspaper’s reporters witnessed today a violent confrontation between the police and a group of about 200 protestors. But they also report that the Iranian mobile telephone network is functioning again. (My aside here: on the right-hand side of the Libération web-page you can see the newspaper’s cover-story last Friday: “Spring in Tehran.” Would that be anything like the Prague Spring?)

Elsewhere, Denmark’s Jyllandsposten is reporting that the Iranian authorities have instructed the Saudi-owned, Dubai-based Arab TV broadcaster Al Arabiya to cease their operations in the country immediately. As the company’s editor, Nabil al-Khateeb, told the French news agency AFP, “We have no permission to cover anything. We have not received any justification, and we were not warned beforehand.” And the Flemish paper Gazet van Antwerpen reports how this morning two Belgian journalists were arrested on Tehran’s streets and shut away, with a number of other detainees, in a cellar-dungeon at the Interior Ministry. But this story has a happy ending – they were set free a short time later, after confiscation of their notes – and even a nice bonus: one reporter worked for the Belgian-Flemish broadcast organization VRT and the other for the corresponding Belgian-Walloon broadcaster RTBF, and it seems they were detained together and stood up to the arresting officers with great solidarity – a heart-warming and much-needed tale for present-day Belgium!

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