In the wake of devastating terrorist attacks in Paris, in which journalists, police, and Jews were targeted with ferocity, many are left bewildered by the fact that such violent acts could take place in one of the world’s most beautiful, open, and cosmopolitan cities.
Such brutality seems like the purview of dictatorships in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Islamic dictatorships. As someone who was born in Iran and forced to flee the country in the 1980’s, I know what it is like to live in a society crushed under the weight of theocracy. In Iran today, the regime regularly uses public hangings, torture by electrocution, flogging, and rape as tools to destroy dissent.
If Iran represents the dangers of a state run by extremist Shia Ayatollahs, Saudi Arabia reflects its equally radical Sunni counterpart. We know about the "Chop Chop Square" in Riyadh, where people are beheaded after Friday Prayer and peaceful activists are flogged for questioning Islam or advocating freedom and equality. Just recently, a young blogger and activist Raif Badawi was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment and one thousand lashes by Saudi authorities for criticizing Islam and calling for reform and moderation. He is to be lashed fifty times every Friday after the Friday prayer for twenty weeks, a sentence befitting the medieval era. Badawi received the first fifty lashes on Friday, January 9th.
These and other atrocities around the world, including the slaughter of hundreds of innocents at the hands of the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram, evoke sadness – but rarely action – in the West. There is an unspoken sense that, after all, these are not our problems, they unfold in distant lands, and Islamic dictatorships, however brutal, do not affect our lives.
In ignoring the floggings, assaults, and beheadings, Western governments and consumers alike turn a blind eye to some of the worst human rights abusers in modern history. One can only conclude that cheap oil, which should aptly be called "blood oil", accounts for much of the absence of outrage (and in some cases outright appeasement of such states). A democracy like Canada, the United States, or Israel would never be able to get away with lashing a peaceful activist as is Saudi Arabia right now. That the Saudis are doing so openly, in the knowledge that Western governments will raise no real protest and Western media will fail to provide serious coverage, only speaks to the fact that cynicism and barbarism go hand-in-hand.
Meanwhile, the Islamic regime in Iran has managed to stall any kind of agreement on the nuclear issue, and just this week announced the construction of two additional atomic facilities. This is particularly egregious given that the P5+1 powers negotiating the nuclear issue had both extended the deadline for negotiations and provided sanctions relief for the regime. All of which is to say, a regime that regularly sponsors terrorism worldwide and abuses human rights at home probably cannot be expected to negotiate and uphold a nuclear agreement in good faith. Were it not for the immense oil revenues that have sustained the regime since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran would be in a fundamentally different position today.
We should not fail to see the link between international terrorism today and the oil-funded hubs of extremism abroad, particularly when it comes to Iran and Saudi Arabia. It should come as no surprise that the same countries that abuse their own people in the name of religion are among the primary sources of inspiration and funding for extremist Islamist movements, including terror groups. In so doing, they have ultimately laid the foundations of the same strain of violent extremism being fought in the streets of Paris this month.
As petroleum customers, Western nations ignore such brutal – and brutally obvious – facts at their own peril.
Sayeh Hassan is a criminal defence lawyer in Toronto and a pro-democracy activist fighting to change Iran’s Islamic regime.
Imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, flogged:
When will we realize that the terrorist acts we have been witnessing most recently in Paris is rooted in the support of Western Countries for Islamic Dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia and Iran?? Would Israel or Canada or the United States be able to get away with flogging someone 1000 in a public square?
My radio interview with Tommy Schnurmacher on CJAD radio about Islamic Regime's involvement in Gaza and what the international community needs to do to stop the Islamic Regime in Iran the threat that it poses worldwide:
My article published in the Toronto Star discussing Islamic Regime's involvement in the current Gaza Conflict and Iran's support for Hamas and its proxy war against Israel.
While media have widely reported on the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, few have picked up on the significant Iranian connection to the conflict. Indeed, one cannot comprehend the events of recent weeks without an adequate understanding of Iran’s role in Gaza.
To begin, it should not be overlooked that many of the more than 1,000 missiles fired at Israelis in the past month were manufactured in Iran, transferred by Iran or built in Gaza with Iranian technology.
This includes, for example, the Iranian-built Fajr 5 and the made-in-Gaza M-75, both of which have a range of 75 kilometres. In 2012, Iran openly admitted to having given Hamas the technology to manufacture the M-75. These weapons have been a strategic game-changer for Hamas, allowing it to extend its range of attack to Israel’s two largest cities: Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The longer-range M-302, which enabled Hamas to hit cities in northern Israel, was reportedly imported from Syria via Iran.
Hamas has long depended on the Iranian-Syrian axis for arms, training and funding. These resources have had serious implications for Gaza since Israel left the territory entirely in 2005, a move that opened a window of opportunity for a peaceful, democratic Palestinian state-in-the-making to emerge. Hamas and Iran quickly moved in and closed that window, with tragic implications for the people of Gaza.
A 2007 Hamas coup within the Palestinian Authority enabled the group to seize control of Gaza and proceed to build a remarkably advanced infrastructure of terrorism. The territory is now replete with tunnels, bunkers and underground missile launch pads. In recent days, Hamas even launched its own drones over Israel.
None of this would be possible without extensive funding from Iran. At one point, the government of Egypt revealed that Iran was funnelling upwards of $300 million annually to Hamas.
Additional numbers are equally staggering. Prior to Israel’s current operation, terror groups in Gaza possessed an estimated 10,000 missiles. Hamas operatives, many of whom were trained in Iran, now also number at least 10,000. Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is even closer to Iran than is Hamas, boasts several thousand fighters in Gaza. Analysts have noted that the two factions have been competing to see which one can fire missiles deeper into Israel.
Despite a falling-out between Hamas and the Iranian-Syrian axis when the group moved its headquarters out of Damascus in the wake of the Syrian civil war, co-operation in fighting the common enemy, Israel, has resumed. As former commander of British forces in Afghanistan and a seasoned analyst of terrorist groups, Col. Richard Kemp, told AFP: “Hamas were very badly damaged by the Israeli Defense Forces back in 2012, but since that time they have been re-equipped significantly by Iran and also by weapons from Syria.”
Every missile made in Iran and fired by Hamas threatens Israeli civilians and puts Palestinian lives at risk by requiring Israel to take countermeasures. On that note, the news that Hamas is openly calling the people of Gaza to serve as human shields is particularly nauseating.
Iran’s mentorship of Hamas in Gaza is modelled on its development of Hezbollah in Lebanon. In both cases, Iran seeks to advance the Islamic Revolution throughout the Middle East and support local groups willing to wage a proxy war with Israel. Unfortunately, those who pay the price for Iran’s destructive ventures are Israelis and innocent Palestinians alike.
As an Iranian-Canadian who has spent years raising awareness of human rights violations inside Iran, it grieves me that Tehran’s brutal agenda is now playing itself out in Israel and Gaza. Were it not for the Iranian regime’s extensive role in laying the foundation for the current war, the past few weeks may have been very different for Israelis and Palestinians. Those of us in the West who care about peace in the Middle East should recognize that Tehran’s fingerprints are all over the current round of violence.
Sayeh Hassan is a criminal defence lawyer in Toronto and a pro-democracy activist fighting to change Iran’s Islamic regime. http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/07/19/irans_fingerprints_all_over_hamasisrael_conflict.html
This year the Anti-Semitic and hateful Al Quds rally, backed by the supporters of terrorist organization Hamas is scheduled to take place on Saturday July 26th at 2:00 p.m. on Queens Park.
Al Quds is an annual protest which aims to export the Islamic Revolution. Al Quds protestors (Khomeinists and Hamas supporters) call for the conquest of Israel and its replacement with an extremist Islamic State. Each year protestors raise the flag of Hezbollah a banned terrorist organization in Canada and hold up pictures of Khomeini the brutal Islamic dictator.
Canada is a country built on the principles of freedom, equality and respect for all. As Canadians we should be extremely concerned about Queens Park being used as a platform for hate speech and promotion of Islamic extremism!
To all groups, organizations and independent activists who oppose Islamic Extremism and support Canadian values:
1. Rally- Activists will gather for a rally against the Al Quds Hate Rally on Queens Park on July 26th 2014 @ 2:00 p.m.
2. Write press releases, articles and blog posts and voice your concerns about this “Hate Rally.”
3. Contact the media (tv, radio, print, news blogs) and voice your concerns.
4. Use Twitter and Facebook to spread the word about the counter-rally and call to action. Encourage others to get involved! Say no to the promotion of Al Quds “Hate Rally” and Islamic Extrimism in Canada!
June 20th holds a special place for many Iranians because it is a day to remember and commemorate the mass murder of thousands of political prisoners in June of 1981 by the Islamic Regime.
During the bloody summer of 1981 thousands of activists who opposed the Islamic Regime were summarily executed after being tortured and “tried” in mock trials behind closed doors!
Years later in June of 2009 once again millions of Iranian took to the streets of Iran and demanded real change and democracy in Iran. Thousands of activists were arrested, tortured and imprisoned. Tens of protestors were murdered by Regime agents during the protests. One of the victims of this tragedy was a young woman named Neda Agha Soltan, a young woman who was shot to death on the streets of Tehran!
Every year on June 20th we remember the hero’s who lost their lives in a fight for a free and democratic Iran.
We are also once again reminded of why the fight to overthrow the Islamic Regime in Iran must continue until we are successful.
I am dedicating this post to all brave hero’s past and present who have fought or continue to fight against the Islamic Regime and its barbaric dictatorship in Iran.
Down with the Islamic Regime in Iran
Long Live Freedom in Iran
I encourage all Iranians to cheer on our beloved and VERY talented National Soccer Team with the Lion and Sun Flag instead of Islamic Regime's blood soaked Flag.
The Iranian National Soccer Team has made all Iranians proud and while I cheer them on with all my heart I will only waive the Lion and Sun Flag which represents the people of Iran and not the blood hungry Islamic Regime!
Recently John Baird made a historically and politically incorrect statement by referring to the PERSIAN GULF as the Arabian Gulf. The Iranian-Canadian community in Toronto was quick to speak out and voice their concerns, although Mr. Baird has not issued any corrections.
Recently I visited the Iranian Plaza in Toronto located on Yonge/Steels where I was pleasantly surprised to see this sign! While Mr. Baird may have thought that his comments are forgotten by the Iranian Community, they have not been forgotten and they will certainly be in the minds of the Iranian Canadian Community come election time...
In 2004, Soros hosted a meeting with the then Ambassador to the United Nations from the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif. Soros and Zarif talked about the possibility of a future “grand bargain” between Washington and Iran. In 2005, he arranged a meeting between Zarif and Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Senator John Kerry. So when Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif met Secretary of State Kerry in Geneva last September to discuss Iran’s nuclear programs, it was a meeting between well-acquainted friends.
Zarif has lived many years in the United States. In fact, he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees at American colleges. He also has spent a good deal of time and energy recruiting admirers among America’s intelligentsia. He even approached me while I was the Senior Iran Political-Military analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Kerry, a Boston Mandarin, apparently has the ability to rise above the pedestrian politics of bilateral relations. His ego is not beyond imagining that he will arrange, with the help of his friend, Zarif, a “grand bargain” between the United States and Iran. But first, Kerry must find a way to finesse the issue of Iran’s drive for a nuclear weapon with its attendant ballistic military delivery system. This is a substantive obstacle, since Iran probably already has the capability to fashion a nuclear weapon. However, it may not yet be able to shape a warhead to “fit properly” on its missile nose-cone’s re-entry vehicle. But it just needs a bit more time for that.
Then there is the issue of Israel, the most likely recipient of the warhead should it come to that. Tel Aviv does not trust the Islamic Republic to abide by any agreement unless it dismantles its existing nuclear architecture. This includes its supply of enriched uranium, thousands of centrifuges which can produce even more, and various facilities critical to the development of its nuclear weaponry.
One might ask then, why should the U.S. Secretary of Defense trust Iran to abide by any agreement? Even if existing sanctions against Iran helped bring Tehran to the bargaining table, the Islamic Republic will remain at war against the United States. After all, the Islamic Republic was responsible directly or indirectly for a third of American military casualties in Iraq.
There is still the issue of Iran’s support for terrorists and destabilizing insurgencies around the world. Moreover, Tehran has sought to derail several attempts to negotiate a settlement of the Palestinian/Israeli enmity. Recently, this effort was highlighted by the Israeli interception of a shipload of weapons earmarked for radicals in the Gaza.
Most telling of all, how can any nation-state trust a regime that murders its own citizens at the most prolific rate of any society on earth. Since the “Smiling Mullah” Rouhani became President, over 400 Iranians, mostly young people have been executed. That is just the ones we know about. One should just Google the photos of bodies hanging from construction cranes in Tehran.
Nevertheless, Zarif like his President Rouhani, smiles a lot. Americans like that. He even somewhat obliquely has acknowledged the Holocaust and sent a Jewish New Year’s greeting to Israelis. Moreover, he speaks perfect English and his son and daughter were both born in the United States. Zarif is urbane, witty, and charming. And he is hip even using twitter. Too bad the rest of the Iranian people who use twitter have it filtered by Iran’s fundamentalist regime. What more can we ask for? It is certainly enough for Senator Kerry.
However, journalists should pose a few questions to the would-be Nobel Prize Winner Kerry:
(1) Can you describe the relationship you have had with Zarif prior to your having been named Secretary of State?
(2) Why did you assiduously feel a need to keep secret your daughter Vanessa’s marriage to an Iranian-American until after you had been approved by the Senate as Secretary of State?
(3) Why did your daughter and Behrooz Vala Nahed keep secret the guest list at the wedding?
(4) Do you think your new son-in-law Vala Nahed was being disingenuous when he said that he did not know your daughter was Senator Kerry’s daughter?
(5) Have you heard about the rumor among Iranian-Americans in Los Angeles that Zarif’s son was your son-in-law’s best man. Is this true?
(6) Is it also true that Vanessa and Behrooz have traveled to Iran?
(7) Do you see any grounds for a conflict of interest here, given your responsibilities and security clearances? Of course, you must know that many loyal Iranian and Arab-Americans have been denied clearances for less.
(8) Has your son-in-law’s parents given up their Iranian passports?
(9) What is your son-in-law’s passport and citizenship status vis-à-vis Iran’s terrorist regime?
(10) Are you certain that none of your son-in-law’s extended family have no contacts with the Islam Revolution Guard Corps or Iranian intelligences services?
(11) What about Behrooz’s file at the Islamic Republic’s interest section in Washington D.C.?
(11) Oh Senator Kerry, one last question. Have any of your “inside-the-beltway” senatorial colleagues asked you any of the above questions?
(12) And by-the-way, John, given the pro-Palestinian views of Episcopalian Bishop Shaw who officiated at your daughter’s wedding, don’t you agree that Israelis might have reason to be worried about the U.S. Secretary of State’s pledge to have Israel’s back.
Dr. Lawrence Franklin
Former Iran Desk Officer
Former Air Force Reserve Colonel Attaché to the U.S. Embassy in Israel
I hope we will start to see the police in Turkey stand with the PEOPLE rather than with the Islamist Government.
Teen's funeral sparks riots in Turkey: http://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/teens-funeral-sparks-riots-in-turkey-30088348.html
The Elders who aim to promote “peace and human rights” are hypocritically starting their visit at Khomeini’s (Also known as the Islamic Butcher) Mausoleum!
As a pro-democracy activist I oppose any diplomatic relations or visits with the Islamic Regime in Iran, which only serves to give the regime further legitimacy. I am disturbed to see Kofi Annan and others visiting Iran at a time where executions are at an all time high, and we hearing daily reports of arrests of political and human rights activists.
What is even more concerning is the fact that a group which claims to be promoting human rights is starting their visit at the Mausoleum of Khomeini, an Islamic dictator responsible for the torture, rape and execution of thousands of Iranians who opposed the brutal Islamic dictatorship!
Instead of visiting prisons where political prisoners are incarcerated, families of political prisoners or those who have been executed by the Regime or political and human rights activists “The Elders” are visiting the grave of a man who was the root of the Islamic dictatorship in Iran.
Clearly Kofi Anan and other former world leaders have no intention of promoting peace or human rights. Their focus is the nuclear issue as is the focus of the international community, and they have no problem giving the Islamic Regime the green light to continue with its systematic human rights violations in Iran!
Sayeh Hassan is an Iranian Canadian lawyer, blogger and pro-democracy activist
Minister of Foreign Affairs
2249 Carling Ave.
OPEN LETTER TO JOHN BAIRD: REFERENCE TO THE PERSIAN GULF AS THE “ARABIAN GULF”
Dear Minister Baird,
On January 16th 2014 during your address at the US Chamber of Commerce, you referred to the Persian Gulf as the Arabian Gulf.
As you are aware, for more than two millennia the location which you referred to as the “Arabian Gulf” has been referred to as the Persian Gulf. The Persian Gulf is the term officially recognized by the United Nations and the International Community.
While some Arab States have referred to the Persian Gulf as the “Arabian Gulf”, this term is historically incorrect and not recognized by the international community. It is unfortunate that by using the term “Arabian Gulf” you have chosen to give legitimacy to this historically and factually incorrect term.
The Islamic Regime in Iran has tried for many years to destroy the heritage, history and the culture of Iran and the Iranian people. The Regime changed the name of Iran to “Islamic Republic of Iran”, while changing the ancient Iranian “Lion and Sun” flag and replacing it with a non-Iranian flag, in an unsuccessful attempt to erase the history and legacy of Iran.
The Islamic Regime in Iran has failed at its attempts, as people of Iran have always been proud of their history, legacy and culture. As part of keeping the Iranian history and heritage alive, Iranians have organized numerous successful international campaigns to protect the term Persian Gulf over the recent years.
As an Iranian-Canadian pro-democracy activist I am extremely disappointed to see that Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs has chosen to use the incorrect term “Arabian Gulf” which not only gives legitimacy to this term, but is also seen as a sign of insult and great disrespect to the people of Iran.
While as an Iranian-Canadian I appreciate the tough stand Canada has taken against the Islamic Regime in Iran, I am extremely disappointed in your disregard for the rich history and culture of Iran which so many of us Iranians are proud of and are fighting to protect.
Iranian Canadian Criminal Defence Lawyer, Pro-Democracy Activist and Blogger