In an exclusive interaction, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Baqeri told NDTV that “misleading narratives are being created by foreign powers” about Iran.
The comment by the Iranian foreign minister was in response to a question from NDTV about the current protests in the country.
Iran has accused its foreign enemies of inciting violence in the country during protests since the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini in custody.
Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish descent, died three days after her arrest in Tehran by the vice squad for an alleged violation of the Islamic Republic’s mandatory hijab law.
When asked how concerned the Iranian government is two months after the protests, the deputy foreign minister told NDTV: “In the name of God, I want to emphasize that criticism and raising objections is one of the pillars of democracy, and based on our religious beliefs which is also reflected in the Iranian Constitution. This right has been given to the people and we are all obligated to just see and listen to different perspectives and criticisms from the people.”
He added: “However, we must pay attention to the difference between peaceful assembly and violent assembly. We must also pay attention to the intervention of foreign powers in Iran’s internal affairs and the misleading narratives they create about the events unfolding in Being Iran is in line with their own interests.”
In recent years, these powers and governments have continued to pursue the same policy towards Iran, according to the minister.
When asked where is the evidence of America or European countries intervening in Iran, Mr. Baqeri said: “It is not difficult to look for evidence or proofs. Just pay attention to the media that [these powers] and the statements of some of these Western powers.”
He went on to say: “Look at how some of the European powers are intervening in Iran. If you look at the approach and the news production they have, especially in the Persian-language media based in London, you can see the depth of their interference in the domestic affairs of Iran.
When the minister was reminded that it is the ordinary people of Iran who are protesting, including the country’s football team, Mr Baqeri said: “In a democratic system, people are free to express their views, to voice their objections But what is important is the direction that is given [to these protests] by foreign regimes. Western regimes are trying to steer these protests and the expressions of the people in a certain direction.”
Responding to a question about whether Iran is getting bolder in its dealings with protesters, with UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) saying 300 people have been killed so far, including 40 children, the minister said the numbers were absolutely wrong . “Such data is absolutely not true,” he said.
The minister added that in order to obtain correct data, a committee has been set up under Iran’s Ministry of Interior. He said that according to official data, 50 Iranian police personnel have been killed in these protests so far and several hundred people have been injured.
He refused to view these protests as an expression of women in Iran wanting change. “People are free, they are not restricted from expressing their opinions freely. And we have a legal framework for them to express their opinions and perspectives,” he reasoned.
Asked if the Iranian authorities should reconsider giving more freedom to women in the country, Mr. Baqeri said: “After the success of the Islamic Revolution, Iranian women have made great strides. How was that possible? Women have played a key role in the Iranian government and they hold top positions as managers and academics in the country. Would that have been possible in a country where there is no freedom for women?”
When told that media could enter Iran, the minister clarified that the Iranian government has no problem with the media being independent. “We have no problem allowing them, giving them access to see for themselves the reality on the ground. But the problem is that some of them are controlled by Western regimes.”
To further illustrate this point, he said that Iran has no problem with Indian media visiting the country.