In today's tour of the Middle East, Iran finds its own Occupy movement, Israel sends a message about dating to American expats and a mystery explosion remains.... mysterious. Let's begin the Propaganda Parade.
Iran Finally Has Its Own Occupy Movement
What do you call a group of students breaking in to a foreign embassy, hurling Molotov cocktails and torching vehicles? If you're Britain and it's your embassy in Iran, you call it "utterly unacceptable and we condemn it." But if you're Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency, it's an Occupy movement!
Today, tensions ran high between Britain and Iran as students stormed Britain's embassy in Tehran and the country's Mehr News Agency reported that six people had been taken hostage. Thankfully, it appears the embassy staff is safe. (The Mehr report was later removed and a UK source tells Reuters that no British diplomats were taken hostage.) Covering the riots like a spontaneous student movement, Fars has dubbed it the "Occupy Embassy Protests" on its website. Like Occupy Wall Street? Really?
Skepticism over the way state media covered the riots arose immediately. "Not saying Iranian govt behind UK embassy attack, but state photog just happened to be there & upload some great shots," tweeted The Atlantic's Max Fisher. The Guardian's correspondent Saeed Kamali Dehghan added that state media was reporting that "police used tear gas to disperse them," even though, as The New York Times' Robert Mackey pointed out "there is no evidence of gas in any of the video from state television or the many photographs published by Fars." We're not sure why Fars dubbed this an "Occupy" movement but for weeks the Occupy Wall Street movement has been an A-1 story for the service, as it gleefully tracks the tumult going on in the U.S. Maybe they just wanted to advance the storyline? See state television footage from the protest below: