American Charade Of Double Standards – OpEd


The hullabaloo and tumult which the Western mainstream media have ignited during the past weeks over the fallacious report that a Christian pastor in Iran is sentenced to death on charges of apostasy once again underscores the hypocritical nature of the United States and its European allies, bringing to light the double standards which they have conventionally exercised regarding the human rights issue.

Over the past weeks, the American newspapers and news websites have widely circulated the deceptive report that Yusuf Naderkhani, a Christian pastor in the northern Iranian city of Rasht, has been convicted and sentenced to death for converting to Christianity from Islam and is awaiting execution.

In line with their duplicitous policies in the international level regarding the human rights issue, US officials were quick in responding to the self-manufactured report. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that the 32-year-old Yusuf Naderkhani, who had turned to Christianity when he was 19, “has done nothing more than stay devoted to his faith.”

The American official then went on to say that the alleged death sentence for Iranian pastor has “breached Iran’s international obligations” and “crossed all bounds of decency.” He further claimed that the Iranian authorities have forced Naderkhani to renounce his faith and abandon Christianity.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague also said that he has “deplored” reports that the pastor could be executed for not returning to Islam. This comes while the US House Speaker John Boehner has urged Iran to grant Naderkhani “a full and unconditional release.”

But what’s the reality behind this US-produced tale?

First of all, reports published by some of the Iranian media outlets show that the incarceration of Yusuf Naderkhani has nothing to do with his religious affiliation or career as a pastor. According to Fars News Agency, Naderkhani has been jailed for violent crimes such as rape, burglary and extortion since 2009 and his prison term is not related to his religion at all.

Moreover, the Director General of Guilan Province’s Department of Justice Javad Heshmati stated in a recent press conference that the sentence of execution has not been upheld for Naderkhani and the reports of Western media are nothing but sheer propaganda and misinformation.

But there remains a vital question: why do the Western media use every opportunity to make a mountain out of a molehill and accuse Iran of violating human rights and restricting religious freedoms?

The answer is almost clear: Violating human rights is a Western tradition. Similarly, restricting the religious freedoms is a Western practice. And likewise, suppressing the citizens is a Western convention. The West wants to distract the international attention from its grave violations of human rights by attributing its own crimes to independent and non-aligned countries such as Iran.

According to the US Department of Justice’s Bureau of Statistics, 1,099 people have been executed in the United States since 1976 until April 2008. Furthermore, 3,263 people have been awaiting death penalty in the States since 1976. More astoundingly, The Espy file, compiled by M. Watt Espy and John Ortiz Smykla, lists 15,269 people executed in the United States and its predecessor colonies between 1608 and 1991.

Just a few weeks ago, a Black US citizen, Troy Davis, was controversially executed by lethal injection on charges of killing a police officer named Mark MacPhail in Savannah, Georgia. The execution of Davis was responded by the American public critically as they believed that he was innocent. Davis himself maintained his innocence since he was imprisoned in 1989 until his death and a group of prominent international figures such as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pope Benedict XVI, former FBI director William Sessions, former US President Jimmy Carter, and Amnesty International called for a halt to his verdict, which the Georgia’s Board of Pardons and Parole rejected stubbornly.

The US-based magazine “The Week” published an elaborate report on the case of Troy Davis and raised the possibility that he was executed innocent.

“Seven of the nine witnesses who tied Davis to the crime have at least partly recanted their testimony – some claiming police duress influenced their initial testimony. One witness later said that a different man, Sylvester “Redd” Coles, had bragged afterward about shooting MacPhail.”

Not coincidently, says Dave Zirin at The Nation, “of the two witnesses who still maintain that Troy was the triggerman, one is Sylvester ‘Redd’ Coles.” Also, police produced no murder weapon, blood, DNA, surveillance tape, or other physical evidence tying Davis to the crime. The only hard evidence was the shell casings that prosecutors say matched a gun linked to Davis from another crime.

The truth is that the United States and its European allies, which have always boasted of commitment to human rights and civil liberties, have been the most prominent violators of those rights and liberties.

According to a “Cascade Patch” report, in the wake of the execution of Troy Davis last month at the Jackson prison, “some activists are seeking to clear the name of the youngest person ever to receive the death penalty in the United States: George Stinney, Jr.”

On June 16, 1944, the 14-year-old black boy George Stinney “was executed in South Carolina in connection with the brutal murder of two white girls, eight and 11, who disappeared after going out to pick flowers in Alcolu,” the report added.

As reported by the National Public Radio (NPR), for reasons that aren’t exactly clear, Stinney became a suspect, and even though he himself was only 14 years old, he became the focus of this, and a lynch mob formed.

Stinney was arrested by the police officers and during his short and speedy interrogation he was offered ice cream on the condition that he would confess to the double murder.

At the end, Stinney confessed, though he was a part of the original community search crew looking for the girls and there was no physical evidence linking him to the murder, according to a story in The Grio.

After a speedy trial with a defense attorney trying to get into politics before a packed courtroom of some 1,500 whites (blacks were not allowed in), an all-white jury deliberated for 10 minutes, found the boy guilty and sentenced him to death.

Religious intolerance, violation of citizen’s privacy, extrajudicial imprisonment and torture of the inmates and discrimination against racial minorities are among other elements which would turn the US and its European allies into the greatest violators of human rights. In the Western countries where the Muslim women are barred from wearing Islamic hijab, it’s almost impossible to trace the footsteps of justice and equality for the people, whether white or black, Muslim or Christian, man or woman.

Kourosh Ziabari

Kourosh Ziabari is an award-winning Iranian journalist, writer and media correspondent.

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