By Mahtab Farid, Washington, DC
The picture you see here is a picture from my trip to Iran in 2006. I am in the middle and the three beautiful young Iranian girls are my cousins. My beautiful cousins are part of the 70 million young population of Iran where the average age is between 18-24.
But unfortunately the 70 million Iranians don't get any news coverage except their president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The vibrant young Iranians that go through the daily struggles of life are hardly seen on the news or heard on the radio. Most of the writers, journalists, scholars, and politicians only look at Iran as a hot commodity to make money. It is interesting to witness how a number of panels, conferences, resolutions are introduced in the US congress, but there is little or no understanding about the young people of Iran and the social structure in Iran.
The major news networks and the prominent newspapers around the world only have stories and pictures of Ahmadinejad . Why can't there be pictures of the beautiful intelligent young Iranians that despite their dress code limitations find a stylish way to appear.
Why can't the news media talk about the social issues of the young Iranians? Today, a young person in Iran struggles economically. Sanctions and lack of a healthy economy in Iran result in lower job rates. There are thousands of young Iranians graduating from college with more than just an undergraduate degree, yet they can't find a job.
Drug addiction, prostitution, suicide, depression are some of the major issues among the young Iranians yet we hardly ever see any coverage.
Why can't the news media talk about the social issues of the young Iranians?
For the past few days, leading major networks have been obsessed about Ahmadinejad's visit to the United Nations. Please for those of you who are planning to bash me with your emails and phone calls telling me why am I defending Ahmadinejad please save your breath. I am not writing to defend Ahmadinejad. I simply say the media uses Ahmadinejad to get ratings to air commercials. The scholars in Washington, DC and else where in the world hold panels to sell their books or get their three minutes of fame on Fox News or CNN. The so called "Iranian opposition groups" talk about Ahamdinejad and hold panels with the most outrageous and outdated material so they can tap into the democracy funds of the State Department.
Since Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005, he has been speaking at the United Nations. This is his fourth time at the United Nations. So what makes this visit special or any different than any other visits? Why can't the media and scholars use his visit as a tool to discuss the real problems with the people of Iran? Isn't the job of international organizations such as the United Nations to deal with issues such as population, pollution, and economic issues?? Would just criticizing Ahmadinejad's visit and giving him non stop media coverage accomplish anything but to make the world have a more negative view of the Iranians?
I have been following and covering Ahamadinejad and President Bush since they both became presidents. It is always interesting for me to see when Ahmadinejad walks from one bilateral meeting to another the large number of reporters, photojournalist, and cameras follow him as he is a rock star. The only other time that I remember that many cameras following a person at the UN is when George Clooney spoke before Security Council to discuss the atrocities in Darfur.
So why is the media so obsessed with Ahamdinejad or why he leads the news? The question could be left to social scientist and psychologist, but as an Iranian American woman who is also a journalist, I wished we could see the headline news about Iran to be about the young Iranians. At the end of the day it is the people's power that matter not the government. Or why would anyone care about what some of these so called scholars or so called Iran experts say when they can't even pronounce Iran or never traveled to Iran.
With this blog, I want to invite my readers to participate in a healthy, respectful discussion so we could find ways to portray the real issues of the Iranian people instead of focusing on the Iranian government.
The truth is that a lot of young Iranians don't care about the discussions that are going on outside of Iran, because it doesn't concern them. Whether Iran has a right to enrich uranium is the last concern for the Iranian teenagers. For their parents bringing food to the table and providing a prosperous future for their children is far more important than the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report or the latest United Nations Security Council resolution against Iran.
Some experts may argue that Iran is a
national security threat and it is a concern to the international community yet
by focusing on Ahmadinejad and filming his every move as he arrives to New York
until he departs to Tehran, nothing will change.
The international community, media, and the world community need to look beyond the issues of nuclear enrichment and nuclear activities of Iran. Instead they need to focus on the young, vibrant, intelligent and beautiful young people of Iran.
... Payvand News - 09/25/08 ... --