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Using ‘lies of rape’ as weapon of media warfare against Iran

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

By Hiba Morad

A law of propaganda often attributed to Joseph Goebbels, chief propagandist for Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich during World War II says: “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.”

Psychologists call this phenomenon “the illusory truth effect,” and confirm that repetition can affect beliefs about truth. This effect essentially equates repetition with truth.

The process works through indoctrination. If a lie is repeated enough, people believe it, and the very repetition almost tautologically becomes the support for the supposed “pieces of evidence.”

Today, Iran is facing its own Gish gallop moment, a rhetorical technique that involves outmaneuvering and pummeling the opponent with false statements and outright lies.

Western media is today trying to overwhelm Iran through an avalanche of dubious arguments with utter disdain for veracity, accuracy, or substance in a bid to create a negative public opinion about the country.

Colonializing minds is potentially more dangerous than the use of lethal power.

The propaganda war against Iran is being orchestrated by media outlets such as UK-funded BBC Persian, Saudi-funded Iran International, and of course US-funded VOA, Fox News, CNN, etc. Some media outlets have gone to the extent of saber-rattling and warmongering.

Of course, social media helps mainstream media’s propaganda spread like wildfire. For instance, during this media warfare against Iran, viral posts on social media claimed that 15,000 people will be "mass executed" to "send a message," which was picked up and tweeted by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau, who fell for the fake news, later deleted the tweet and pretended as if nothing had happened. However, his ‘falling into the trap of misinformation’ created headlines.  

Fake images about people killed or injured allegedly by police went viral on social media platforms and were eventually proven by some fact-checking pages as blatant lies.

The most recent and explosive lie about Iran was alleged ‘rape’ and ‘sexual assault’ by the police against detained protesters. CNN aired a report claiming that Iran's security forces “use rape to quell protests.”

As prominent US intellectual and author Noam Chomsky said in a recent interview with Truthout, there is hardly any doubt the US will provide support for efforts to undermine the Islamic Republic.

“Iran has been a prime enemy (to the US) since 1979 when the US-backed tyrant who was re-installed by the US by a military coup in 1953 was overthrown in a popular uprising,” he was quoted as saying.

Is this the first time? 

The allegations of “rape” in Iran have been made in the past as well, although varying in intensity and frequency. The gross claims, however, were never supported by robust evidence, which pointed to a deep-rooted mischievous disinformation campaign against the Islamic Republic.

There is a plethora of articles online from as early as 1988, which accuse Iran of perpetrating rape since the Islamic Revolution.

In one of the articles from that time, the New York Times resorted to baseless claims that women were treated as slaves and raped in prisons.

In 2009, during the post-election unrest in Iran that was engineered by the US and its allies to undermine the Iranian government, a series of systematic lies about weaponization of rape in Iran appeared in Western press, including the Guardian, CNN, and the New York Times.

In 2011, referring to a series of so-called dramatic letters, the Guardian claimed that Iranian prison guards were being encouraged to rape young prisoners.

In the years that followed, baseless claims continued to circulate with an intention to influence public opinion towards the ruling establishment in Iran.

More recently, in September 2022, a report by BBC claimed that “ruthless” commanders threatened female protesters with rape. Just like in 2009, a wave of reports followed, the latest one published by CNN on Monday.

A university professor and political analyst commented on the CNN rape allegations in an interesting tweet: “An obvious lie & a sign of western desperation. I know CNN well. On 3 separate occasions, well-known CNN journalists said one thing to me in private & something completely different on TV. In response to my criticism, one of them effectively shrugged & said, "I work for CNN."

In wars, truth is often the first casualty. Accusations of rape have been used as a weapon of war by the CIA against "adversaries" for long. For example, allegations were made against Russia recently for using “rape” as a weapon in the Russia war.

"These allegations fit in nicely in a depiction of Russian soldiers as beasts and brute barbarians, orchestrated by Western spin doctors - exactly like the Goebbels henchmen did at the close of WWII.” Russia's UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya commented on the allegations.

This is what journalism has been reduced to today. Western media outlets report on unfounded allegations against "enemies" based on flimsy pretexts but turn a blind eye when similar allegations are leveled against, for example, American or British officials.

Rape and sexual abuse at Abu Ghraib  

It is amusing that the corporate Western media has launched a vicious campaign against Iran, based on lies, when photos showing rape, sexual abuse and torture by US troops at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq are still in the public domain.

After the US military invasion of Iraq in 2004, Abu Ghraib prison, located 32 kilometers west of Baghdad, was seized by American forces and turned into a haunting place of torture and rape.

When Seymour Hersh, a noted American journalist, released a classified video about human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, the US Department of Defense tried hard to play down the images. But the evidence was too strong to be refuted.

Hersh said the Americans did their best to prevent the film from being released.

In 2004, US General Antonio Taguba provided the Daily Telegraph with a report that included stories of rape and sexual abuse and confirmed that images supporting those allegations were also in the file.

“These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency,” Taguba, who retired in January 2007, was quoted as saying in the paper.

Hiba Morad is a Tehran-based academic and political analyst, currently pursuing a PhD in linguistics at the University of Tehran.

(The views expressed in this article are author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)

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