February 8, 2007 Special Dispatch No. 1455

Columnist Hassan Haydar: Iran Spreads a ‘Culture of Death’

February 8, 2007
Iran | Special Dispatch No. 1455

In an article published February 1, 2007 in the English edition of the London daily Al-Hayat, columnist Hassan Haydar denounced the "culture of death" that Iran is spreading in the Arab world by means of the resistance movements in Lebanon and in Palestine.

The following are excerpts from the article, as they appeared in English: [1]

"According to a Reuters news report from Monday, a little Lebanese girl who appeared on a... children's show on Al-Manar - Hezbollah's TV channel - said that she had often prayed for her father to be martyred in battle with Israel, and that she was very proud that he was killed in the war last July, and that she was 'very happy for him,' because she felt that God had heard her prayers.

"The mother of the Palestinian suicide bomber who blew himself up in Eilat three days ago also told Agence France-Presse that she was happy her son was martyred. She revealed that she had said goodbye [to him] before he left for his mission and had wished him success, and that she was happy that 'God had heard her prayers.'

"These two examples are no different from the Iranian 'human waves,' in which the victims wore keys to Paradise around their necks as they marched through Iraqi minefields. They are also no different from the majority of operations that have been carried out by the Lebanese and Palestinian Islamic resistance movements over the last two decades."

"[The Culture of Death] Reflects a State of Collective Psychological Detachment, in Which a Child Can Celebrate the Loss of a Father and a Mother the Loss of a Son"

"Most important, such examples confirm the growing influence that Tehran has today, and the extent to which the culture of death and the glorification of martyrdom have proliferated in more than one Arab country. [Tehran spreads this culture by] exploiting its sectarian affiliation... with Shi'ites in Iraq and Lebanon, and [by means of its support of] the Palestinian Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movements.

"The culture [of death] is not limited to local professional fighters engaged in armed conflict with an enemy, but has spread to affect entire communities - including mothers and children, schools and television, newspapers, poetry, art and music. The significance of this [lies] in distorting the concept of struggle itself, denying people the right to make rational and mature choices, and demeaning everything other than martyrdom, including political and social efforts aimed at improving the conditions of these communities and their members' living standards.

"It is also a culture that reflects a state of collective psychological detachment, in which a child can celebrate the loss of a father and a mother [can celebrate] the loss of a son, which [goes] against human nature and culture.

"But in stark contrast, the media apparatuses of the same Iran-affiliated movements express admiration for American anti-war groups and for mothers of American soldiers demanding the return of their children, just as they emphasized last summer's protests by Israeli mothers who opposed the Israeli army's involvement in a ground war in Lebanon, praising the influence of such actions on society as a whole and on the Israeli decision-making process.

"In doing this, these media apparatuses essentially condemn the very same concepts that they try to advocate, since the American and Israel anti-war protests promote the sanctity of life and the desire to protect life in face of all the justifications of the American and Israeli governments.

"The validity of the reasons behind the animosity toward Israel cannot be disputed, and opposing its repeated aggression often means accepting the eventuality of death and destruction. A problem arises, however, when death becomes the only weapon and deterrent, and a goal in itself, while [the taking of] life should be the last card resorted to, and [should be resorted to] only if fighting is the only way to improve the standards of this life.

"We might ask: How will this child, who was raised to exalt and glamorize death, be able to conform to the rules of a work place, or comply with public law, or harmonize with a civil society later in life?

"How will such a child be able to appreciate the value of a tree, a house, a field, a road, a bridge, a public square, or any of the normal things... that surrounding him?

"What Lebanon went through last summer and what is currently taking place in the heart of Beirut and in its alleys - are these not examples of what a child nurtured on the culture of death is capable of doing?"

[1] Al-Hayat, February 1, 2007. The text has been edited for clarity

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