The Washington Post

London riots used by Iran, Bahrain to justify government crackdowns


A pro-regime Bahraini newspaper contends that British Prime Minister David Cameron, right, and the King of Bahrain, Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa, left, have a few things in common. (ANDY RAIN/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

But the connections aren’t being drawn by British protesters, seeking to connect themselves to a wider cause.

Instead, they’re claimed by government supporters in Iran and Bahrain, as a means of legitimizing the violent crackdowns on uprisings in their own countries.

After a cabinet meeting Wednesday, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went on state radio to urge the U.N. Security Council to take action over the British riots, saying that it was hypocritical in its reactions to such events.

“If one percent of this happens in countries that oppose the West, they scream until they are hoarse,” Ahmadinejad said.

By criticizing the actions of the British government against protesters, Ahmadinejad was seemingly trying to legitimize his own.

Ahmadinejad also called on British officials to listen to the demands of their people, a move that prompted Guardian reporter Haroon Siddique to call Ahmadinejad a “funnyman.” Many others picked up on the irony of the call from Ahmadinejad, whose government has been condemned internationally for its handling of protests and dissent:

Ahmadinejad: “No, no, no Britain! You’re supposed to wait until protesters go home, then kidnap them at night.” http://bit.ly/okPnAmless than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet ReplyMatt Duss
mattduss

In Syria, a country whose president has been under increasing fire from the international community to step down after killing demonstrators, state-run television also ran stories about the chaos in Britain.

Footage that showed a British policeman chasing and knocking a man down was accompanied by a caption that read: “Cameron: ‘We face a problem confronting the gangs in Britain.’”

Bahrain’s Daily News, a pro-government newspaper, ran an op-ed Wednesday that used the actions of London police as a more direct defense of of Bahrain’s crackdown on protesters.

“SO the Arab Spring has finally sprung in London,” the writer begins. The piece then makes a list of comparisons between the Bahrain and British uprisings, including the “innocent people” and police killed, and the “pure criminality” of the riots.

“But why then is it so hard for the same broadcasters and publishers to understand that what happened in Bahrain was not so different, if not worse?” the writer asks.

Despite the writer’s efforts, some were careful to point out the differences:

Unlike #Bahrain, #London has a judicial system where for the most part, nobody is above the law. There are no “fake” crimes and criminalsless than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet Replyaseel al sayed
asoolalsayed

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