A tale of two cities: Western gov­ern­ments can’t han­dle the truth un­less you speak to them with a mir­ror

Tehran Times - - ANALYSIS & INTERVIEW -

TEHRAN (FNA) — France’s most vi­o­lent ur­ban riot in a decade con­tin­ues to en­gulf cen­tral Paris as “yel­low jacket” ac­tivists torch cars, smash win­dows, loot stores and tag the Arc de Tri­om­phe with multi-col­ored graf­fiti.

Protesters an­gry about ris­ing taxes and the high cost of liv­ing clash with French riot po­lice, who close off some of the city’s most pop­u­lar tourist ar­eas and fire tear gas and wa­ter can­non as they try to quell the may­hem in the streets.

Some might say France is march­ing to­ward a new rev­o­lu­tion. Not so fast. That’s hardly the case. This is just about so-called “vi­o­lence” de­nounced by French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron. So those who at­tack po­lice and van­dal­ize the Arc de Tri­om­phe will be “held re­spon­si­ble for their acts”.

Now imag­ine for a mo­ment that this was all hap­pen­ing in Tehran. All hell would break loose in the West. Western gov­ern­ments would hold an emer­gency meet­ing in Brus­sels on the vi­o­lent protests, call­ing it a rev­o­lu­tion, while bash­ing any re­sponse from the Ira­nian gov­ern­ment un­ac­cept­able, even tak­ing the mat­ter to the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil for a res­o­lu­tion that would trig­ger sanc­tions on Tehran.

But Paris is not Tehran and what is hap­pen­ing there is “vi­o­lence that has noth­ing to do with the peace­ful ex­pres­sion of a le­git­i­mate anger” and “no cause jus­ti­fies” at­tacks on po­lice or pil­lag­ing stores and burn­ing build­ings. Fur­ther still, the gov­ern­ment of Macron sees no rea­son to an­swer any ques­tions from jour­nal­ists about the sit­u­a­tion in Paris of a new protest move­ment and the worst ur­ban vi­o­lence since at least 2005.

In­deed, the scene and the in­ter­na­tional re­ac­tion sharply con­tra­dicts with last year’s guild-re­lated protests in Iran, where be­cause of Western dou­ble stan­dards, demon­stra­tions were naively or de­lib­er­ately con­sid­ered by Western gov­ern­ments as “a new rev­o­lu­tion” that would lead to “regime-change”.

Un­like in France, they con­demned Ira­nian po­lice de­ployed to try to con­tain the vi­o­lence, which were sim­i­lar to those in Paris about price hikes and un­paid wages. Western gov­ern­ments even voiced their con­cerns for ar­rest­ing those in­volved in vi­o­lence and burn­ing shops, with lit­tle or no care for in­jured po­lice of­fi­cers. That’s un­like the way they have all re­acted to the on­go­ing vi­o­lent clashes in Paris in re­cent week. They have backed the French gov­ern­ment and con­demned the protesters.

How­ever, Western gov­ern­ments can­not have a dou­ble stan­dard here. They can­not see the vi­o­lent protests in France as dif­fer­ent from the re­al­ity, or from those in Iran. They can­not use two dif­fer­ent sets of judg­ment when it comes to a sim­i­lar vi­o­lence hap­pen­ing in Paris and Tehran.

It is time they stopped us­ing a dou­ble stan­dard for mea­sur­ing their own and other na­tions’ poli­cies. Their de­mands for demo­cratic prac­tices in other lands will be no more ef­fec­tive than the guar­an­tees of those prac­ticed in their own coun­try.

- even though this is the third straight week­end of clashes in Paris with ac­tivists dressed in the flu­o­res­cent yel­low vests

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