Iran's bondage of the press

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 11: Muslim protesters burn an American flag outside the American Embassy, in Grosvenor Square, on September 11, 2010 in London, England. Controversial US pastor, Terry Jones has sparked protests across the world after planning to stage an International Burn a Koran Day on 9/11, the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York. Mr Jones has since postponed the event after sparking international condemnation and protests around the world. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Pastor Terry Jones' decision to call off his September 11 Koran burn has not stopped violent protests among some Muslims across the world. A Lutheran church in Pakistan was destroyed by a bomb. Kashmir protests left 13 dead. In Tehran, protesters are calling for the death of Jones. But I wanted to highlight this New York Times story by Robert F. Worth for what I thought was a helpful and informative lede:

DAMASCUS, Syria -- Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, delivered a fiery address on Monday accusing the United States government of orchestrating desecrations of the Koran by right-wing American Christian groups last weekend, Iranian state news agencies reported.

The speech appeared to be part of an effort by Iran's hard-line leaders to amplify Muslim outrage over scattered gestures to burn or tear pages of the Koran, in the wake of the threat -- later withdrawn -- by Terry Jones, a Florida pastor, to burn the Koran on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In Tehran, about 1,000 protesters chanting "Death to America" and "U.S. pastor must be killed" clashed with the police and threw stones at the Swiss Embassy, Reuters reported. The Swiss have handled American interests in Iran ever since the United States severed diplomatic relations with Tehran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

I'm not saying that there's any excuse for some of these violent protests, but it certainly helps to understand that the Iranian government is lying about what's going on. And leading with that angle is appropriate. There's a much larger story about how news and other information is distributed and understood in other countries. It really helps to just get some basic facts.

The story notes that Indian-controlled Kashmir has even blocked Iran's state-owned Press TV since it's already dealing with angry protests (see above). The Ayatollah also blamed "Zionist think tanks" that he claimed control the military and government. He said the U.S. government is "attacking ... the foundation of Islam and the Holy Koran."

Although this Times story has the proper angle, in my view, we could really use some more information in follow-up stories -- about what the Ayatollah means and how his remarks are interpreted by protesters.

And the picture for this post is of Muslims burning an American flag outside the American Embassy in London on September 11. Certainly the Ayatollah can not be blamed for that. Much more follow-up needed.

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