(August 8, 2021 / The Jewish Journal) What would you do if you were a senior European Union diplomat who was invited to the inauguration of a man affectionately known as “The Butcher of Tehran”?
Yes, I’m kidding about the “affectionately” part, but not about “The Butcher of Tehran.” You don’t earn that nickname (as well as “Ayatollah Massacrist”) among Iranian people unless you’ve overseen the arrest, torture and murder of thousands of dissidents and protestors for more than 30 years.
If you’re Enrique Mora, a senior E.U. diplomat, you RSVP “yes” to the swearing-in of newly-elected Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, which was held on Thursday in Tehran. Mora was joined by representatives from over 70 countries who also said “yes.”
Specifically, the ceremony was attended by “10 presidents, 20 speakers of parliament, 11 foreign ministers, 10 other ministers, envoys of presidents, vice presidents and parliamentary delegations,” according to a statement by Iranian Parliament spokesman Seyyed Nezam Al-Din Mousavi. For a regime that makes such noise about how many foreign leaders attend an inauguration, it sure is quiet about how many citizens it has murdered.
Is it 176?
No, that was just the number of passengers Iran killed when it shot down a Ukrainian Airlines flight in January 2020. Coincidentally, Raisi was head of the Iranian judiciary then.
Is it 1,500?
No, that was the number of Iranians killed in two weeks of protests against the regime in November 2019 (that number includes 400 women). Coincidentally, Raisi was also head of the judiciary then.
Is it somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000?
No, that’s the number of gays and lesbians allegedly executed by the regime since the 1979 revolution that turned Iran into an Islamic theocracy.
And let’s not forget the 5,000 prisoners Raisi butchered in 1988, when then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini appointed him and a few others to what became known as the “Death Committee.” Its job? To quickly purge dissidents as the Iran-Iraq War ended and the regime tried to maintain power.
Those dissidents, by the way, were all prosecuted and serving prison terms, or about to complete their sentences. Raisi, then 28, was able to plan and organize their extrajudicial murders in a matter of months. His impressive record of killing Iranians continued until just a few months ago, including during the 2009 “Green Protests.”
As for his track record on Jews, it was Raisi who, in 2016, oversaw the production of a 50-episode “documentary” that promoted the notoriously anti-Semitic fabricated text, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
The episodes were not only shown on Iranian television, but also given to millions of pilgrims at the Shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad, which, before the pandemic, saw 20 million visitors a year. There was even a public contest to see who could answer questions about the program’s contents, including “ways to confront the tricks of Satan.”
To say that the June election that brought Raisi to power was a sham is a laughable understatement. That’s one of many immoral problems with world leaders attending his inauguration; the man wasn’t even elected fairly (most of his top rivals were conveniently disqualified from running).
You’d think someone would notice a red flag and politely decline an invitation to the ceremony. I wonder what an invitation for such an inauguration looks like—was it red, to honor “The Butcher of Tehran”?
It’s also strange that, in 2020, not a single E.U. representative attended the inauguration of Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko. In fact, the E.U. boycotted the ceremony in protest of government crackdowns against opponents. One would think massacring over 5,000 people in Iran would be enough to decline an invitation to Raisi’s inauguration. As it turns out, it wasn’t. Perhaps Iranian lives matter less than those in Belarus.
There’s also the pesky issue of what transpired last week, when Iran ordered a drone strike on an Israeli-operated oil tanker in the Arabian Sea that killed a Romanian and a British national. Perhaps Mora forgot that Romania is part of the E.U. Imagine how validated and safe the mullahs in Tehran must have felt in seeing a senior E.U. official at the inauguration, just seven days after such a belligerent drone attack.
Naturally, Iranian human rights and opposition groups were outraged by Mora’s honoring of a mass murderer. And Mora had plenty of other murderers to schmooze with at the inauguration, such as Hamas Politburo head Ismail Haniyeh and Hezbollah Secretary General Naim Qassem. How’s that for an esteemed audience?
“I swear to safeguard the official religion and the establishment of the Islamic Republic and constitution of the nation,” Raisi said in an oath during the ceremony, which also included a tribute to notorious Al-Quds leader Qassem Soleimani, who was targeted during an American airstrike in January 2020.
After the ceremony, Raisi and his colleagues were documented celebrating his success in annihilating dissidents by enjoying ice cream puffs.
I don’t know which image is more ridiculous: world leaders celebrating the inauguration of a mass murderer, or “The Butcher of Tehran” taking measured licks of saffron and rosewater ice cream. Either way, it was all a day’s work in Iran.
Tabby Refael is a Los Angeles-based writer, speaker and civic action activist. Follow her on Twitter @RefaelTabby.
This article was first published by the Jewish Journal.
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