In an exclusive interaction, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri told NDTV that “fallacious narratives are being created by foreign powers” about Iran. The Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister’s comment was in reaction to a query on the ongoing protests in the country.
Iran has accused its foreign foes of fomenting violence in the country during protests since the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini.
Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin, died three days after her arrest in Tehran by the morality police over an alleged breach of the Islamic republic’s mandatory hijab law.
On being asked how worried is the Iranian government, two months into the protests, the Deputy Foreign Minister told NDTV: “In the name of God, I would like to stress that criticism and raising objections is one of the pillars of democracy, and based on our religious beliefs that is also reflected in the Iranian Constitution. This right has been given to the people and we are all duty-bound to just see and listen to different perspectives and criticisms from the people.”
He added: “However, we should pay attention to the difference between peaceful assembly and violent assembly. Also, we have to pay attention to the intervention by foreign powers in the internal affairs of Iran and the fallacious narratives that are being created about the events in Iran, which are in line with their own interests.”
He further said: “See how some of the European powers are intervening in Iran. If you look at their approach towards news, especially in the Persian language media based in London, you’ll see the depth of their intervention in the internal affairs of Iran.”
When the minister was reminded about the fact that it is the common people of Iran who are protesting, including the country’s football team, Mr Bagheri said: “In a democratic system, people are free to express their views, to express their objections. But, what is important is the direction that is being given [to these protests] by foreign regimes. Western regimes are trying to steer these protests and the expressions of the people in a certain direction.”
Responding to a query on whether Iran is becoming more brutal in handling protesters, with UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) saying that 300 people have been killed so far, including 40 children, the minister said the numbers were absolutely incorrect.
Asked if there should be a rethink on the part of the Iranian authorities to grant women in the country more freedom, Mr Bagheri said: “After the success of the Islamic Revolution, Iranian women have made great progress. So, how was that possible? Women have played a key role in Iranian government and they occupy top positions as managers and academics in the country. Would that have been possible in a country where there is no freedom for women?”
When told that media were not being allowed into Iran, the minister clarified that the Iranian government has no problem with independent media. “We have no problem to allow them, to provide them access to see for themselves the realities on the ground. But the problem is with those controlled by western regimes.”
Further illustrating the point, he said that Iran has no problem in allowing Indian media visit the country.
In view of the ongoing war in Ukraine and the stance taken by the Indian government, Mr Bagheri, while praising what he termed as the “smartness” of the Indian government, said: “India is not under the influence of the kind of atmosphere that is being created by some. That is because of the independent attitude and perspective that the Indian government has.”
The Deputy Foreign Minister added: “Iran and India are two independent powers. They are not following the western regimes and are not taking action in line with the interests of western regimes. With regard to the conflict in Ukraine, both Iran and India have taken a neutral stand. We are not endorsing the war and we have relations with both Russia and Ukraine.”