Melanie Phillips

11 October 2011

A step too far for the butchers of Iran?

Published in: Daily Mail

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Today’s Times highlighted the barbarism with which the Iranian regime deals with political dissent. One story (£) reported that an Iranian actress, Marzieh Vafamehr who appears in the Australian film My Tehran for Sale which is critical of the regime, has been sentenced to 90 lashes and a year in prison for her starring role in this film.

Another story (£) reported that an Iranian student activist, 29 year-old Peyman Aref,  who was sentenced  in March 2010  to a year in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison for spreading propaganda against the regime, was chained to a prison wall on Sunday and lashed 74 times with a leather whip for ‘insulting’ President Ahmadinejad:

‘The masked flogger used a course leather whip and delivered the 74 lashes without pause. “I gritted my teeth. I didn’t scream, because I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction of hearing a single cry from me,” Mr Aref said. He suffers from a heart complaint and fainted halfway through his ordeal.

... [Aref] said that he was risking further punishment by telling The Times of his ordeal, but insisted: “We don’t just retreat under pressure . . . They want to force us to leave Iran but I’ll resist to the very end.”’

The courage of these young Iranians is astounding. And it is vital that these cases are reported and that the names of these dissidents are recorded, because international outrage does have an effect. The case of the Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, (which I commented on here) who has been sentenced to hang for refusing to renounce his faith has now been referred to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself because of the international outcry.

Yet the even more astounding thing is that, while America, Britain and Europe have taken premature and wholly reckless action against Egypt’s Mubarak and Libya’s Gaddafy on the grounds of supporting the human rights of Egyptian and Libyan protesters, they have been all but silent on the terrible savagery in Iran.

Worse still, they have been treating Iran with kid gloves even though it has been in a state of self-declared war with America and the west for more than three decades, has perpetrated countless acts of terrorism against US and western interests, has been behind murderous attacks on Coalition soldiers in Iraq whose government is now effectively in Iran's pocket, threatens genocide against Israel, the forward salient of western defences in the region, and is about to equip itself with nuclear weapons in order to further its infernal aims. Yet the President of this ultimate rogue state that has declared war on America is invited to speak at Columbia University and allowed to address the UN in New York.

Now an event has occurred which offers perhaps the most significant challenge to this wilful blindness. For the  US says it has foiled a terrorist plot backed by elements in the Iranian regime to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US by blowing up a restaurant, as well as attacking other targets within America. The Washington Post reports:

'The suspects were identified as Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old from Texas, and Gholam Shakuri, an Iran-based member of Iran’s Quds Force, an elite division of that country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for foreign operations.

In addition to killing the Saudi ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir, officials said, the plot envisioned later striking other targets. The officials said that the plan to kill the ambassador was directed by Tehran, and that Arbabsiar has acknowledged that he was recruited and funded by men he understood to be senior officers in the Quds Force.'

If this is true, it would mean this was a major terrorist atrocity being planned by Tehran to take place on American soil – an act of war by Iran against America in America. So astonishing are the implications of this that Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy wonders aloud:

'The extraordinary detail of the alleged Iranian-backed plot to assassinate Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, revealed today by Attorney General Eric Holder, raises all sorts of questions.  Why would Iran have wanted to carry out such a killing here in the United States, where its "fingerprints" on such a plot would have had - indeed, will have -- such an impact on U.S. policy toward Iran?

'If, as the now-unsealed amended complaint reveals, there had been "a hundred, a hundred and fifty" people killed and injured, including "senators", there would have been huge political pressure on the White House to order a retaliatory military strike on Iran.  An Iranian spokesman has responded by rejecting the charges as a "ridiculous show" - but will the Islamic Republic persist in what certainly appears to be a newly aggressive policy?'

The US Attorney General Eric Holder has said:

‘“In addition to holding these individual conspirators accountable for their alleged role in this plot, the United States is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions.”’

I’ll believe it when I see it.

About Melanie

Melanie Phillips is a British journalist and author. She is best known for her controversial column about political and social issues which currently appears in the Daily Mail. Awarded the Orwell Prize for journalism in 1996, she is the author of All Must Have Prizes, an acclaimed study of Britain's educational and moral crisis, which provoked the fury of educationists and the delight and relief of parents.

Read full biography


  • The World Turned Upside Down
  • Londonistan
  • The Ascent of Woman
  • America's Social Revolution

Contact Melanie

Melanie Phillips
Daily Mail
Northcliffe House
2 Derry Street
London W8 5TT

Contact Melanie