As Tehran lays the groundwork for the country’s return to world markets through the continuous influx of European officials and the over 6,500 companies that have announced their readiness to do business with Iran, the issue of McDonald’s restaurant opening a branch in Iran has turned into a hot discussion subject for politicians of both major political factions of the regime.
And even though McDonald’s itself announced two weeks ago, at the height of the commentaries over it, that until further notice it had no plans to open a branch in Iran, the internal arguments about such a possibility continue as hot as ever.
Hardline Kayhan newspaper, for example, whose editor is directly appointed by the country’s supreme leader ayatollah Khamenei, glosses over the fact that a long line of European and American companies in the fields of oil, gas, urban development, the automobile industry, etc. are poised to enter the Iranian market, and focuses on a possible McDonald’s restaurant in the capital. It has expressed “concern” about the possibility of a McDonald’s in Tehran because it writes, “it could be an espionage base” and writes, “McDonald’s, along with Starbucks, is a full-fledged Zionist entity ... and with over 500 active franchises around the world, it is in practice a very sophisticated monitor of social developments around the globe which through very advanced behavior and feedback analysis is at the least an active instrument that gauges sub-conscious opinion. The fast-food restaurant has provided the means for the movement of many professional spies in all European and Asian countries on the pretext of providing training and management to its global managers, franchises, cooks and other staff. It also provides the means to bring in workers, staff and franchise owners to the US and Germany on the excuse of providing training, without raising any sensitives of the security agencies of the host countries. Through these techniques, it recruits naive and vulnerable targets to advance the objectives of its bosses.”
Kashan’s article continues, “As the use of the Internet expands through smart microphones and applications, and the provision of hotspots, McDonald’s and many other chain outlets affiliated with the imperialist camp, have in reality eliminated the need to spend huge sums of money to send surveillance drones over megacities by providing free internet services through Wi-Fi to its customers and encouraging them to use their phones at their locations. It then downloads information belonging to its customers, and even passersby, to a central location without the knowledge of its franchise staff. So we must be very careful that a McDonald’s restaurant is not simply a pleasant deli whose management has been relegated to some interested person. It has the potential to be turned into a center for espionage. In practice it unknowingly becomes a cover for these kinds of operations.”
The former head of Iran’s state-run national radio and television network, Ezatollah Zarghami, echoes these words in his Instagram and writes, “McDonald’s and Pepsi Cola are two political symbols of America. For decades they advance the groundwork for changing the polit9ical culture of their place of operation in favor of the United States. Today, in Iran as in other countries, many similar and even better fast-food restaurants are available. We must be careful so that Americans don’t replace the sanctions with sandwiches. Honestly, is an omelet with tomatoes and Barbari bread replaceable?”
Another official figure, the head of Iran’s trade unions Ali Fazeli also warns of the dangers of McDonald’s. He said, “There are no bans on foreign restaurants in Iran and the competitive field will probably be laid for them but such foreign entities need permits from the Ministry of Industries and the Ministry of Health. Even though McDonald’s has only announced its readiness to come to Iran, its efforts seem to be evaluating the situation in Iran to determine which specific areas would be good for investment. In Iran too no decision has been made about their presence. An examination must be conducted in Iran to determine whether permits can be issued to such foreign companies or not.”
University professor Sadegh Zibakalam, however takes a different line. “What do we have that they should need to engage in espionage against us? Such talk by some people here is illusionary. Revolutions spring when people become disillusioned and unhappy. If these people want, I will create a long list of issues people are unhappy about so that later they will not blame McDonald’s. His remarks were met with slurs by deputy chairman of Majlis’s national security committee who called him “a clown.”
... Payvand News - 03/25/16 ... --