Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Satellite Racket

By Paul Iddon

One of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards many ways of harassing and bullying civilians while remaining immune from any scrutiny.

Azar Nafisi's brilliant written and insightful memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran is certainly a must read for anyone interested in a well written insider critique of what it is like to live (as a woman in this case) under the Islamic theocracy in Iran which like the protagonist in the novel Lolita Nafisi asserts is guilty of the "crime of solipsizing another person`s life."

One of the darkly humorous incidents Nafisi describes in her book is one involving possession of a satellite dish in the household she lived in. One day five armed strangers started a gunfight with a neighbour from their garden and a group of Revolutionary Guards sought to use their property to apprehend these assailants. The worries of the inhabitants of Azar's home are mind boggling, she describes how they didn't fear for their lives because of the five or so gunmen, but they were in fact worried because they like a lot of normal Iranian citizens had something to hide, something they were visibly guilty over, that being the crime of possessing a satellite dish.

Today the Revolutionary Guards have a number of ways in which to confiscate or destroy peoples satellite dishes, sometimes even posing as electricity or water maintenance men to get people to let them into their apartments under the guise of letting them check their water meters etc, to then only have them burst in and neither confiscate their dishes or smash them and proceed to fine or (in some rumoured cases) arrest the owner, I've even heard that Revolutionary Guards have on some occasions abseiled down from rooftops of apartment blocks to smash satellite dishes that residents placed on the outside windows or balconies of their flats.

These said Guards have self-evidently come a long way from their conception around the onset of the Khomeini reign as Supreme Leader, today there is an estimated 220,000 of them and apart from being just a branch of the Iranian military and controlling the paramilitary Basij militia (the thugs who mercilessly beat peacefully demonstrating protesters with batons) the Revolutionary Guards have a multibillion dollar empire and do in some regards operate as if they are a state within a state, and virtually have impunity from the law with regards to consequences for a variety of actions which they undertake. They've also maintained a monopoly on smuggling operations in and out of Iran, as they arrest any form of competition. Therefore giving themselves control over the alcohol and opium rackets and other the black-markets, this brings to light a very disturbing question, are there Revolutionary Guard cells who are providing these satellite dishes the government deems to be illegal to civilians through the black market they control, and then later coming back to harass those who unknowingly brought their dishes off those same Guards in the first place?
And furthermore is this kind of activity not merely tolerated by the government but actually sanctioned by it?
With what we know and the ruling regimes reputation for constantly lowering the depths to which they will sink I somehow doubt the answer to these two questions would be “no”.

Another question that arises is what is it exactly the regime doesn't want the Iranian people to see?
One of the most successful television shows aimed at the large amount of discontented young Iranians is Parazit (Persian for static, which is an allusion to the fact that the Iranian regime has tried to jam foreign satellite transmissions) the satirical news show started by two Iranian expatriates living in Washington D.C. whose works have become very popular in Iran, viewers and fans there access it through those illegal satellite dishes (which the show is broadcast to via Voice of America), the internet or bootleg DVD's, the show regularly pokes fun at the Iranian politics and some of the absurd cultural aspects that are embodied in the Islamic Republic.

In a heart-warming and delightfully amusing interview on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (of which Parazit is modeled after) one of the creators in response to Jon Stewart asking how they can successfully rip on the Iranian regime on a weekly basis answered his question with this priceless statement:

“Ahmadinejad came to Columbia, one of the most respected schools of all time and he stood in front of the whole world and said there are no gays in Iran, that's all you need to have, from then on you have a show!”

This clearly sums up the regime in a nutshell, it doesn't take itself seriously, so with this in mind one wonders why we pay heed to their hateful pronouncements and sinister piffle.

Editor’s Note: Paul Iddon is one of the authors of Uskowi on Iran. His weekly columns appear here on Wednesdays.


Anonymous said...

Criminy, Paul. That subversive woman writer can't tell the difference between a NAJA policeman and a Revolutionary Guard, and apparently neither can you.

Credibility = 0

Anonymous said...

Iran is in her full right to maintain social harmony and control what's suitable and not suitable for their society and way of life.

The writer will want us to believe that these satellites operators, owned by countries who've made no secret of their desire and intentions to subvert and cause instability in Iran in order to bring about regime change are somehow innocent peace-loving civilians wanting nothing but "freedom".

This same author refuses to highlight actions of the country(which i believe he's very fond of) that claims to be the only democracy in the Middle East(Israel), passing a law to make it illegal for anyone to protest against the state and even worse, monitor the internet for dissenting comments without a word from the US. So much for "peace and freedom".

The writer should also be wondering why the US hasn't allowed Aljazeera or other Middle Eastern media organization to operate freely in the US.Or the recent wikileaks revelations which clearly revealed the UK/US plot to shutdown/undermine Press TV's operations in Europe.

Need I say more?

The battle of the 21st century is fought in the media and cyberspace. Iran will never allow herself to become another Iraq or Libya where the media did a pretty good job at "softening the target" by an aggressive media propaganda campaign before the actual war begun.

Again, Hypocrisy rules!!! Dream on...

Anonymous said...

Why is Paul writing for Uskowioniran?

Anonymous said...

Urrmmmm, you sir are writing old news, infact the government although seen to be getting rid of dishes, would rather keep them and distracting people from daily life with Columbian soap operas. It causes little harm, and everyone has peace of mind!

Anonymous said...

Iddon, were you aware that in the US you will be arrested and put into jail if you in any way help broadcast Al-Manar?

Notice they didn't merely take this person's satellite equipment, they put him in jail.

Anonymous said...

He said there are no gays in Iran... because they all emmigrated to the USA. (sofar he was right)


Actally he said Iran has no gay problems like the USA... I heard it.. and please columbia is a shit house..I know these dudes by the way.

I doubt this will get published..but whatever..

Anonymous said...

No a single word uttered on this goof of the century.. yet as soon as 2 people get killed in Iran they talk about insecurity a la Washington DC or Mexico city

jimi said...

look for it here in my country (Mexico), many would like to have a little bit of what for many couples will go very crazy. or do you think?

jimi said...

Well, now that here in my country (Mexico), many would like to have a little bit of what for many couples so crazy in Iran. or do you think?

Anonymous said...

Mr Iddon

I only read the first paragraph of your piece and that was enough to convince me that you are not a serious writer. Like Anon @6.54, I'm also wondering why you write for Uskowi on Iran?

"Reading Lolita in Tehran" is not a memoir. It belongs to a genre of literature known as autobiographical novel. It is therefore a fictional work mixed with autobiographical material. It is also a very mediocre example of this type of novel. The reason why it has become famous it is because that it is anti Iran. Pure and simple. Had it been remotely pro Iran it would not have received the wide publicity that it clearly does not deserve.

Anonymous said...


don't let the ridiculously thin-skinned apologists for the soon-to-be wiped from-the page of history Iranian theocracy disturb you a bit.

They're blind fools, some no better than the guy calling for blood to be shed until women completely conform to the horseshirt dress code that the loons impose.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:10
I am with you all the way.

Anonymous said...

"Iran is in her full right to maintain social harmony and control what's suitable and not suitable for their society and way of life."

Who is "Iran" in this sentence? And who are "they" whose way of life is to be controlled?


Anonymous said...

---- US you will be arrested and put into jail if you in any way help broadcast Al-Manar?

Notice they didn't merely take this person's satellite equipment, they put him in jail.----

Here, you're not put in jail for watching A;-Manar, nor are you fined, nor is your equipment destroyed.

You are, however, subject to arrest if you take money from an organization listed as terrorist in exchange for broadcasting their propaganda.

Taking the cash from Hizbollah makes one an agent of the organization.

Still, the men arrested will be put on trial and the law as well as their actions will be adjudged.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 1:01PM, you do not know what you are talking about and didn't even bother to read something as simple as wikipedia - with its links to US government releases - before posting your ignorant comment. Al-Manar is banned in the US and you will be arrested and jailed if you help spread it in any way. They will not merely take your satellite equipment, you will go to jail as did those two men (who never got a trial because they were forced to settle for a few years of jail time as I recall reading in the NY papers).

Anonymous said...

===="Al-Manar is banned in the US and you will be arrested and jailed if you help spread it in any way."====

Seems to me that Al Manar is available via the internet in the US

and it's banned, as an arm of a terrorist movement, from being presented in a commercial context.

And you're entirely incorrect about....." never got a trial because they were forced to settle for a few years of jail time "----

they were indicted and had to go to trial...but they OPTED to avoid the trial...not denied one...the only thing that forced them to avoid a trial was a lack of exculpatory evidence and an unwillingness to challenge the validity of the law.

Anonymous said...

If you really believe the things you just wrote, then why don't you go around posting the link to al-manar on various websites, or show people how to receive it, and we'll see how quickly the FBI comes knocking on your door. Technically you just violated the laws against distributing almanr by posting those links but I imagine it will take more than that to get law enforcement's attention. And no, people who plea don't choose to avoid a trial, not as far as any meaningful definition of the word choice. You are an astonishingly ignorant person.

Anonymous said...

Friend, I've been to the first website before and I watched the second before posting.

If the FBI comes to my door to question me, it won't be for the first time and I'm just so damned ignorant that I'm not worried all that much about the possibility.

Far as they taught me in school, people choose to cop a guilty plea w/o a reduction in charge and merely for a reduced sentence are dang well opting to avoid a trial.
And the reason for doing that is because they ain't gonna prevail on either law or fact.

Committing the offense despite repeated warnings, leave a clear evidentiary trail, and getting caught may not leave one with really great choices, but copping the plea in exchange for a few years off is most certainly a meaningful one.

Really? said...

So 'Mark' is so desperate he is resorting to posting as 'Anonymous' as well? I almost feel bad for the IR, since this seems to the best guy they were able to find.