Ask a Basiji Militiaman?

A few days ago, the Jerusalem Post ran an article detailing a “shocking and unprecedented interview” with an anonymous member of the Iran’s Basiji paramilitary.

Most of what he describes is pretty standard support for the argument that 14 year old boys should never be given weapons or power, but the blogosphere pricked up its ears at his stories of raping female death row prisoners so they could be executed. (In case that went by you too fast: It is illegal to execute female virgins in Iran. Presumably because they’d get to go to heaven afterward.) The money quote:

I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their ‘wedding’ night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. And they would always fight back, so we would have to put sleeping pills in their food. By morning the girls would have an empty expression; it seemed like they were ready or wanted to die.”

This is all over the Internets now, accompanied by comments like “Let it be a reminder of how evil they truly are.”

I have no reason to doubt the Jerusalem Post’s reporting (and, unfortunately, this doesn’t even make my top 10 “terrible things that happen in jails” list), but as far as the sensationalist secondary coverage goes… um, maybe we don’t want to set a precedent for an entire society’s moral worth to be judged by the behavior of its torture-loving, rapey prison guards? Or, for that matter, the regime officials / former U.S. Vice-Presidents who support their actions? Just saying…

Kate Cronin-Furman


  1. "I have no reason to doubt the Jerusalem Post's reporting"

    Seriously? The paper is a rag, i'd look into it a bit more, their coverage is out and out biased, distorted and unreliable- I don't doubt Iran's jails are terrible but I would base it on a jpost article

  2. Hi Mahmud,

    My point was just that I have no particular reason to doubt the validity of this interview. (i.e. the statements attributed to the informant are not out of sync with other reports about the Basiji's activities.)

    Criticism of the Jerusalem Post duly noted, however.

  3. Hi Kate,

    Sorry, reading it over I came across as a bit of a tool… As an aside, I am very glad that the blog seems to avoid all things Arab-Israeli, it'll attract trolls. I just to explain a bit more:

    I don't question the report itself, it bothers me because I do feel quite strongly that the JPost uses stories like to inflame opinion rather than report human rights abuses. It is frustrating and irresponsible to read, and leads to the sort of hateful response you identified in your original post.

    The JPost has been sloppy with it's sourcing and seems to rush to get the most sensationalist story out of a limited set of facts. I think this type of journalism undermines human rights reporting on Iran.



    ""The most important thing that I believe people outside of Iran should be aware of," the young man went on, "is the participation of Palestinian forces in these riots."

    Another protester, who spoke as he carried a kitchen knife in one hand and a stone in the other, also cited the presence of Hamas in Teheran.
    …."my brother had his ribs beaten in by those Palestinian animals. Taking our people's money is not enough, they are thirsty for our blood too."….His hope, he added, was that Israel would "come to its senses" and ruthlessly deal with the Palestinians."

    Perhaps the claim is true, perhaps it isn't, but two unnamed protesters making a statement like that to an Israeli newspaper without someone adding qualification or facts is shoddy journalism.

    Nifty article on Iran and media coverage:

  4. You'll find similar information in the report at
    from an Iranian resistance organization. Although its true that one can't judge an entire society by such behavior, it is equally the case that this does not seem to be an aberration by a few prison guards. It appears to be sanctioned somewhat higher up, and is quite consistent with the general attitude toward women of a substantial segment of Iranian Muslims.

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