Don’t believe Iranian propaganda about the large Crowds mourning for Soleimani
Over the next few days, it will be hard to escape footage of huge crowds gathering in Iranian cities to mourn the death of Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general killed by a U.S. drone strike. For anyone watching, I have one piece of advice: Don’t take what you’re seeing at face value.
This past November, thousands of Iranians took to the streets across the country to protest against the regime, in the biggest challenge to the clerical rule in 40 years. According to Reuters, more than 1,500 people were killed by security forces, including units of Soleimani’s Revolutionary Guard, and at least 7,000 have been arrested. The Internet was shut down for five days. Tehran has yet to release official figures of its own, which suggests the death toll may have been even higher.
The protesters had harsh words for Soleimani and his foreign adventures, chanting against Iran’s involvement in Syria and its support of Hezbollah. That came as a shock to the regime, which portrays Soleimani as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s adopted son.
Of course, people across the political divide are concerned about war. Nobody wants President Trump to bomb Iran’s cultural or historical sites as he threatened in a tweet on Saturday. I myself denounced the tweet on Fox News on Sunday.
But what to make of the crowds of flag-waving mourners streaming across TV screens? Without doubt, Soleimani had support among hard-liners and regime loyalists. The regime is not taking any chances, though. In the city of Ahvaz, where large numbers of people turned out to mourn Soleimani, the government has forced students and officials to attend. It provided free transport and ordered shops to shut down.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com