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Dr. Mordechai Kedar: Iran’s Culture of Deception Marks its Policies

The Shi'a religious tradition of pretending to be Sunni in order to avoid violent attack, even death, has resulted in a culture of deception which continues today, especially in Iran.
Mahmoud Agmadinejad tells Columbia University students "We don't have homosexuals in Iran," September 24, 2007.

Mahmoud Agmadinejad tells Columbia University students "We don't have homosexuals in Iran," September 24, 2007.
Photo Credit: Daniella Zalcman

One of the guests of honor was the president of Egypt, Muhammad Mursi. Though his reason for attending was to participate in the international conference, there were many who saw his presence as a sign of turning over a new leaf in regards to relations between Egypt and Iran, after they had been almost totally cut off since the Revolution of 1979, and the agreement between Israel and Egypt in March of that same year. The honor with which Mursi was received in Iran was also intended to create the image of bridging over the differences between the Sunna and the Shi’a, because he is one of the leaders of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, and Iran represents Shi’a Islam.

Having accepted the opportunity to speak before those present, Mursi of course thanked the host, Ahmadinejad, and the host state for holding the conference, however in his speech he vigorously attacked the regime in Syria, for fighting so viciously against its citizens and slaughtering tens of thousands of them during the past year and a half. It was clear to all that Mursi was referring specifically to the Sunni Muslim citizens, with whom he felt a strong Muslim identification. Mursi did not stop at attacking the Syrian government, and included in his criticism those who support the Syrian regime as well. To anyone who is familiar with the situation in Syria it is clear that he was referring to Iran.

It is important to note that Mursi did not fear the consequences of aiming such clear criticism toward his hosts, and from this it can be concluded that he felt sure enough of himself, his regime and his status to do this. His conduct towards his military people, whose chiefs he dismissed three weeks ago, proves this hypothesis. Undoubtedly, Mursi’s speech was intended for Arab ears, and was intended to place himself as an Arab leader who expresses the core sentiments of the Arab nation, watching with concern and rage what is happening in Syria.

The attack on Syria and the states that support it, however, was extremely upsetting to the hosts, who related quite foolishly to his speech. The translator who translated Mursi’s speech simultaneously to the Persians changed the word “Syria” to “Bahrain”, as if Mursi the Sunni is attacking the Sunni rulers of Bahrain who oppress the human rights of the Shi’ite citizens of Bahrain. The harsh criticism with which Mursi blasted the Syrian regime also underwent “improvement” in the official Persian translation. The Iranian translator also omitted from the president of Egypt’s speech the first caliphs, those of the “straight path”, who, according to the Shi’ites, stole the caliphate from Ali, and when Mursi spoke about the “Arab Spring” the translator called it the “Islamic Spring” instead.

This may seem strange to the Western reader, but in the context of the Shi’ite culture of deception this is not surprising, because even other official media such as the sties “Jahan News” and “Asr Iran” repeated the “improved” version of Mursi’s speech. The “Jahan News” site, which has close ties to the Iranian regime, even described Mursi’s speech as “strange and half-baked, radical and illogical regarding Syria.” No doubt, the translator and commentators on the speech reflect the official Iranian line, which is not interested in the truth of Mursi’s words, but rather in engineering the messages that are sent to the population of Iran according to the needs of the regime. It is important to note that Mursi did not at all mention Bahrain in his speech…

Several hours after the speech, the Arab media that discovered the deception began to gloat over the obvious fraud. The media of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates, who are shaking with fear of the burgeoning Iranian strength, exceeded all others. The Bahraini Department of State summoned the Iranian chargé d’affaires in Manama, the capital of Bahrain to protest the false translation of Mursi’s speech and demanded an apology from the Iranian government. But Egypt is restraining itself, and it seems that Mursi is waiting for the right moment to slap the Iranians with an accusation of fraud.

But there is one thing that all of the Arab commentators agree on, whether explicitly or implicitly: the Iranian culture of deception is revealed for all to see, and the question that arises from this is: How is it possible to believe Iran when they claim again and again that their nuclear program is for peaceful purposes? Is this statement any more believable than the fraudulent translation of a public speech? And what is really hidden beneath the turban that sits on the heads of the ayatollahs?

About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.


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7 Responses to “Dr. Mordechai Kedar: Iran’s Culture of Deception Marks its Policies”

  1. Charlie Hall says:

    Not to defend the Iranian regime, but non-Muslim societies engage in deceit as well. For example, during the Vietnam War, a fake commercial airline called Air America was set up to funnel arms to people who were supposed to be on our side. (Mel Gibson later starred in a movie about it.) There are many, many other such examples.

  2. Charlie Hall says:

    Not to defend the Iranian regime, but non-Muslim societies engage in deceit as well. For example, during the Vietnam War, a fake commercial airline called Air America was set up to funnel arms to people who were supposed to be on our side. (Mel Gibson later starred in a movie about it.) There are many, many other such examples.

  3. A big difference between a clanstine operation and what the Iranians are doing …..suppose you would consider all undercover ops by cia as deciet too!

  4. Charlie Hall says:

    The are by definition deceit!

    And it is a good thing that we have an agency that can carry out those kinds of operations (although Air America may not have been the best example as everyone knew what it was really up to).

    The Iranian regime is pure evil; I'm just not as sure as the Professor is that what he describes is at all unique to Shia Islam.

  5. Undercover is a form of deceit,used by cia,fib,sea, in the muslim world it is used to make treaties it has no intent on keeping,declarationd that it knows to be false act act,any means necessary to expand Islam is acceptable,but Iran takes that to a whole other level…

  6. Charlie Hall says:

    The US has made treaties it never intended to keep, particularly with American Indian nations. :(

  7. Brilliant. As an ex-Iranian, I know so well the culture of deceit, and of the need to lie about most facets of one's life out of politeness/desire to survive/desire to get ahead/just on principle, why give someone the truth when a lie will do? And of course, it's a GIVEN that everyone else and those in power are lying… of course, one cannot generalize, and some individuals are scrupulously honest, but all in all very true, and quite baffling for a western-educated person.

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