Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York is a writer and activist.

Iran but not Tunisia: Where’s the outrage?

I fear this post will raise more questions than it will provide answers.  I know that I will likely come across as naive, not able to grasp realpolitik.  I’m angry, on behalf of my friends in and exiled from Tunisia, as to why so little attention is being paid to the current situation (in case you’re amongst those non-observers, read this overview by NDI’s Katherine Maher).

I’ve been away from home for over two weeks now with far less Internet and television access than usual, so it’s difficult for me to gauge what the American reaction has been to the strife in Tunisia thus far.  A quick Google search shows me a decent amount of US media coverage of the situation–both online and offline–though considerably less attention than was paid to the Iranian elections of 2009, which were undeniably ubiquitous in all forms of media, garnering widespread awareness of the situation.

Though I don’t like or agree with it one bit, I understand why the US government focuses disproportionately on Iran: fear of nuclear weapons, fear of attacks on Israel, fear of Islam.  I don’t understand, however, why public and media attention is equally disproportionate.  If media is not a mouthpiece of the government, then shouldn’t our outrage be equal?

The online media coverage of the Tunisian events may well be adequate (though is likely not), but where it the outrage we saw in 2009 vis-à-vis Iran?  Where are the ubiquitous hashtags?  Both the Iranian Green movement and the current outrage emanating from Tunisia are homegrown, native, huge, and yet, one garnered widespread international support while attention to the other is limited to a small transnational network, as far as I can see.

I very much understand the current outrage from my Tunisian friends, particularly as it is leveled at the US government in respect to Internet freedom.  While the US stepped forward to help Iranians (whether by fast-tracking circumvention tools for export or asking Twitter to halt its updates), little had been said publicly over the years regarding Tunisian censorship, nor the American companies that make it possible (Tunisia, like several other countries in the region, uses McAfee’s SmartFilter software to block a vast swath of websites, and does so with impunity).  Europe, on the other hand, has spoken up this time around.

Forget the government – where is the media outrage?  Sometimes I think the media has forgotten who it works for.  This isn’t Tunisia, we have a free press.  What’s their excuse?

Now, with the arrest of Slim Amamou, I call on my friends once again to speak out, loudly.  If you have connections to the media, use them.  If you have questions, I can put you in touch with people on the ground in Tunisia.  Don’t let this go ignored.

5 Comments

  1. The reason is very simple. Iran is independent. Iran is not a client state. Iran does not take orders.

    In one word, Iran is sovereign.

    While the dictator in Tunisia, and all dictators/monarchs across Middle East are supported military and economically by USA under the pretext of chasing “islamist”… Just like they supported all the dictatorship in South America and gave them weapons under the pretext of chasing “marxist”. In south America -US coordinated kidnapping, massacres, intelligence , horrific torture methods. Just google “operation condor” to find out more.

    Tunisia’s regime happens to be also supported by France, who could never admit this country’independence from its sphere of influence in 1956. US and France nurture this dictatorship.

    Western world is the main supporter dictatorships despite all the braggin about human rights.
    When you hear that deafening silence over Tunisia, I think nobody can contest this point.

    The real end of colonialism is near.

  2. If you would like to get more attention for Tunisia, join forces with Iranian bloggers and Iranians on twitter and facebook. Tap into the Iranian media and ask for their help. Iranian people are against censorship and oppression. They have a big mouth and will spread the news quickly before the mainstream media get their hands on it. During and after the Iranian elections, The Chinese and Venezuelans joined forces with Iranians and together they received a lot of publicity. Iranians also recruited the help of Brazilians and Italians. It is important for citizens of oppressive countries to join forces instead of trying to work individually. Only then will they be able to have a real impact!

  3. I’m living in Iran. And I think that America’s government behavior opposite states such as Iran was always hostile to human rights issues such as compression only leverage to deal with those countries has been.However, the America government in dealing with its allies has always human rights although they also have been violated, but they have very friendly.

  4. Hurray for this piece. You are my absolute hero.

  5. your outrage seems to be much more present regarding lack of outrage on Tunisia than on initial outrage when the Iran crackdown occurred.

    At the time of the crackdown–2009–you have few articles on Iran and one of them is only focused on criticizing a blogger in Iran for being irresponsible.

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