Originally published, here. Recast, here, here and here. Turkish translation, here.
Disentangling the case of Reyhaneh Jabbari in Iran from its Western memeocracy
N Wahid Azal
If the Italian term paparazzi (first coined by Federico Fellini in his film La Dolce Vita) has gained a certain notoriety of meaning in our times, it is perhaps time to coin a similar neologism that accurately reflects the partiality and double-standards of those elite Western (corporate controlled) faux-left, liberal mainstream discourses on human rights. These are those mainstream and mass media discourses advanced by the Anglo-European Transatlantic West deliberately designed with specific intent, thus opportunistically crafted, to misrepresent, misinform or otherwise disinform regarding occurrences of certain cause celebres (particularly when they happen to be publicized legal cases) happening among rival societies, governments or polities which these Transatlantic elites happen not to like at any given time, such as, for example, the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Beyond their skewed, mass produced misrepresentations and obviously orchestrated disinformation campaigns -- and while attempting to represent such discourses as being couched around the issues of rights and advocacy -- these discourses and narratives also simultaneously reveal the transparently patronizing (even racist) and elitist First World bourgeois privileges that motivate them, not to mention the culturally colonialist ideological assumptions and commitments of those articulating, advancing or otherwise championing such memes. In practical terms, such memes are also choice arsenal in relentless campaigns of psychological warfare meant to target those populations of the governments the Transatlanticists are attempting to weaken or take down.
So here I’d like to coin the neologism Sorosazzi, from George Soros. Sorosazzi denotes this elite sub-culture of politicized pseudo-advocates among the Western corporate media, NGOs and human rights organizations –- together with their native informer, fifth column liberal helpers (i.e. the trojan horses) –- advancing agendas on behalf of Western elites which, as a tactic, deliberately reduce the complexity of facts around given events and issues to simplistic memes. This reduction into simplistic memes and one-liners then tilts and twists the complex balance of facts and analyses around such events for purposes of political one-upmanship and cheap-shot, point scoring advantages against geopolitical rivals they have previously attempted (while continuing to attempt) to undermine or otherwise push towards a color-coded revolution of one sort or another; that is, to position into regime change. In short, we are speaking of a species of black propaganda. The Anglo-European Russophobic narrative on the Ukrainian conflict, not to mention the hysterical corporate media Putinophobia, is a sore thumb, classic example of this. Since the end of the Cold War, and even before, Iran has been a relentless target of such underhanded propaganda tactics by Anglo-Zionist Transatlanticists, and particularly as of the early last decade specifically over the nuclear enrichment issue.
The week beginning 20 October 2014 was abuzz with two stories regarding internal developments in Iran. One was the spate of recent acid attacks on Iranian women in several towns and cities (no question, acts committed by criminal vigilantes, or, as suggested by parliamentarian Mohammad-Javad Larijani, perhaps foreign destabilizing, even terrorist, elements), and the subsequent public outcry which witnessed the eruption of protest rallies demanding better security from law enforcement, particularly in Isfahan which was one scene among the major Iranian cities that was affected by such crimes. The other was the much publicized case of convicted murderer Reyhaneh Jabbari and her execution as of Saturday, 25 October 2014, the subject of the discussion here: a case whose full term, from arrest to trial to review to execution, ran for seven full years.
Now, before setting out below to disentangle this case from its mainstream cacophony of memes, it should be mentioned that a quick search of their site reveals that Amnesty International, that ‘paragon’ of Western human rights organizations (but in reality exclusively a cynical soap-box for Transatlanticist agendas and thus a bully-pulpit of the US State Department), first publicized the actual specifics of this case as of 11 April 2014. A search of Human Rights Watch’s site brings up a single entry dated one day before Reyhaneh Jabbari’s actual execution. Google searches have obviously been search-optimized by the usual suspects -- and in English, German, French, Arabic and in Persian (and probably other languages as well) no less -- to only bring up items in search results reflective of the memeocracy’s party-line. Bing is slightly better, but only just. It is only DuckDuckGo and the Russian search-engine Yandex that offer a far more balanced range of articles and opinions (particularly in Persian) in their search results.
The content of the Persian language Wikipedia entry on Reyhaneh Jabbari was only just a day before her execution slightly more extensive in content than the following day and thereafter, citing in its endnotes one or two articles nuanced in their reportage of aspects of the case that have since been removed by editors. Since her execution, the entry has gone through countless edit wars on the hour and currently only reflective of the official meme. More worryingly, towards the middle of the week of 20 October 2014, Gulf Arab media outlets began advancing wild rumours on their social media pages (such as Facebook and Twitter) claiming Reyhaneh Jabbari was a Sunni, imputing this as the primary motivating factor behind Shiʿite Iran’s desire to convict and then execute her, and so deliberately attempting to muddy waters internationally and stoke further sectarianism during this time of heightened Sunni-Shiʿi sectarian tensions in the region; but this was very quickly proven false as there has not been a single reference to any alternative religious affiliations held by Jabbari in the Iranian media (or in any referenced court documents within published Persian language articles discussing it) since the inception of the case in 2007. This information is offered here as an important aside and as evidence of the lengths to which the Sorosazzi with their memeocracy will go to manipulate information online in their false consensus building exercises in order to aggressively push their agenda with such memes; and this is only the tip of a giant iceberg; nevertheless it exemplifies the Debordian society of the spectacle which these Sorosazzi represent.
Before we turn to the specifics of the Reyhaneh Jabbari case, it should also be noted that none of the condemnatory statements issued by either the various Western human rights groups, corporate media outlets or the assorted Anglo-European foreign ministry spokespersons regarding this case actually stand up to critical scrutiny. They have not offered any shred of evidence (documentary or otherwise), nor any kind of extensive discussion, reflection or argument, to substantiate the litany of condemnatory allegations made by them regarding any flaws occurring in the initial police investigation made by Iranian authorities or the subsequent judicial process that followed it which convicted Ms Jabbari of first-degree murder. They have simply made blanket assertions without offering a single leaf of documentary evidence to back it up. Furthermore, how would they know whether the Iranian police investigation process was flawed unless they were (a) present at all crucial aspects of the investigation or (b) had access to the full range of material and documentary evidence? Obviously they weren’t there nor do they have access to any such material, and so, given this, the very assumption that the police investigation by Iranian authorities was flawed rests upon nothing, not to mention such indignations on their part betray argumentative fallacies as well as prejudiced (but all too typical) assumptions about the nature of Iranian law enforcement and judicial processes.
In other words, they, the Sorosazzi, are bluffing, making it up as they go along whilst engaged in a great deal of typical liberal First World hype, projection and unwarranted invective about the (assumed ‘inferior’) modes, manners, adequacy (or inadequacy) and proper function (or malfunction) of Iranian courts and law enforcement. Given this, the onus here is now on them to prove why they assert that there was a miscarriage of justice in this case. Moreover, there is nothing either to prove the allegations made by the Sorosazzi punditry about Jabbari’s purported mistreatment while held in custody awaiting trial or while she was inside the Iranian prison system awaiting her sentence. The assertions made by the Sorosazzi here are also arguably specious and part and parcel of the same anti-Iranian bigotry on their part.
A classic example of such transparently bigoted and tendentious unprofessionalism in statements made by the Sorosazzi cavalcade over this case, where conclusions have been drawn without a shred of evidence to actually back them up, is the US State Department’s official statement of 25 October delivered by spokeswoman Jen Psaki, which states: “…We condemn this morning’s execution in Iran of Reyhaneh Jabbari, an Iranian woman convicted of killing a man she said she stabbed in self-defence during a sexual assault. There were serious concerns with the fairness of the trial and the circumstances surrounding this case, including reports of confessions made under severe duress…” What these concerns are or what aspects of the trial are deemed unfair, procedurally or otherwise, we are never told. Why they are assuming her innocence when the evidence proves her guilt and tout court categorically dismisses her allegations, is anyone’s guess. What evidence has been proffered that shows confessions were obtained “under severe duress,” or what the source for this assertion may be, we aren’t told either. Nevertheless such pronouncements, according to the Sorosazzi, are to be taken on face value without question because they are being made about Iran and are being made by the Sorosazzi themselves. Perhaps such evidence exists in the same place where the US State Department holds incontrovertible proof for alleged Novorossiyan responsibility (and thus Russian complicity) for the downing of MH17 which her government maintains with such passionate certitude as fact but, months since the event, has yet to deliver on actual proof.
Now, per the Tehran Chief Prosecutor’s statement submitted on the day of the execution summarizing the case, in June-July 2007 Reyhaneh Jabbari, then nineteen years old, became the leading suspect in the murder-homicide of one Morteza Abdol-Ali Sarbandi, a retired intelligence officer. She became the leading suspect following the police’s discovery of Mr. Sarbandi’s cell phone at the crime scene on the fifth floor of a Tehran apartment complex. The final call made on the cell phone was made to Reyhaneh Jabbari.
Upon the execution of a warrant, the police then made a search of Jabbari’s residence and found a bloodied kitchen knife, one bloodied scarf, and the original box in which the knife was purchased. Jabbari was then formally arrested and charged. Other discoveries soon made by authorities were that Jabbari had purchased the knife just two days prior to the incident, whilst three days before she had sent an explicit SMS to a friend exclaiming, “I think I am going to kill him tonight,” clearly establishing premeditated intent. In custody, she claimed to both police and the investigative prosecutor that the homicide had occurred as a result of self-defence on her part in an attempted sexual assault by Mr Sarbandi who had tried to rape her. Initially Jabbari had also claimed the involvement of one other person she named as “Sheikhi,” which at first she alleged as the true culprit guilty of the actual murder, a point which at first functioned as her alibi. After failing, or rather refusing, to reveal the identity of this “Sheikhi,” she then retracted her statement, before first changing the story as to “Sheikhi’s” responsibility altogether, after which she later claimed that she had fabricated the account of the existence of a “Sheikhi” in order to mislead authorities so as to derail their investigation, later taking sole responsibility for the crime herself while insisting on her allegation of sexual assault.
The rape (or attempted rape) allegation, and therefore the claim to self-defence, however, proved on both eye-witness accounts and the forensic evidence to hold little substance, so it fell apart as a viable defence for Ms Jabbari early on. Firstly, the coroner found the impact points of the blows inflicted by the knife to be located in Mr Sarbandi’s back, near the right shoulder-blade or scapula, which on a trajectory would dismiss claims of self-defence on Ms Jabbari’s part while demonstrating that the victim himself could not have been attentive in order to attempt their own self-defence either; meaning, the victim was not aware that there was someone behind them about to plunge a knife into their back. Some reports even hold Mr Sarbandi to have been kneeling on a prayer carpet in the middle of performing his ritual prayers (i.e. the salāt, namāz) the moment he was stabbed in the back by Ms Jabbari.
Second, upon hearing noise and commotion, the discovery of the homicide was first made by other residents in the general vicinity of the apartment itself not long after it happened as Mr Sarbandi came running out of the fifth floor apartment, down several flights of steps bleeding to death, while screaming “thief, thief,” as he finally collapsed unconscious when he reached the third floor.
Third, authorities found a malfunctioning lock and door-handle to the opening entrance of the fifth floor apartment door, a malfunction that had apparently been left that way for some time before the events; which, knowing this, would then tend to weaken any suggestions that Mr Sarbandi could have entertained any credible intentions of sexually assaulting or raping Ms Jabbari when there were neighbours and other residential occupants in close proximity who Ms Jabbari could have easily run to for help immediately in the eventuality of such an assault. When queried about this, Ms Jabbari is quoted as saying, “at first I left the entrance door open; when he arrived he closed it, but did not lock it.”
Note that no evidence of a physical assault against herself, sexual or otherwise, was ever presented by Ms Jabbari or her lawyers to any judicial or law enforcement body. None. All the evidence instead established the opposite and that the assault and murder was committed by Ms Jabbari against Mr Sarbandi.
Given this, all of the facts above reveal a straightforward homicide and establish Ms Jabbari’s guilt. All other circumstances surrounding Ms Jabbari herself, details which have been discussed extensively in the Iranian media, while important on some level, are incidental. That Mr Sarbandi was a retired intelligence officer is neither here nor there. Yet this is the Sorosazzi’s primary trump-card in building up the meme for their human rights cause celebre. Once this is shown to be tangential to the actual prima facie legal facts of the case, their meme falls apart and the case stands as a case of premeditated homicide. It is as simple as that. The question of the death penalty, which will be touched on below, is a separate legal issue, but its conflation with the facts of the murder is also a conveniently deployed meme, not to mention an argumentative sleight of hand.
Now, at the conclusion of the police investigation, the matter was referred to the Provincial Criminal Court of Tehran, which after a trial concluded proceedings by passing a verdict of premeditated murder on Ms Jabbari with the sentence of death. Under Iranian judicial procedures, criminal proceedings such as this with such verdicts receive an automatic review by the higher court, i.e. Iran’s automatic appeals process, so Jabbari’s case was then referred over to the 27th branch of the Tehran Superior Court for review. The Superior Court after reviewing the case then upheld the earlier verdict by the Provincial Criminal Court of Tehran. According to an interview published in May 2014 with the chief judge of the court of first instance, five judges were involved in the first tier of the case and several more in the superior court.
As should be abundantly clear from the foregoing, Iran’s judicial system is not some judicial system from the middle ages with a single judge meting out rough justice on a whim or based on some archaic reading of scripture. Iran’s is a sophisticated modern judicial system which, albeit a mixed system, is inclusive of both the European model of the Civil Code as well as Twelver Shiʿi jurisprudence’s approach to the Shariʿa (the Islamic religious law), in its own right one of the most sophisticated and finessed systems of religious jurisprudence. Iran is also neither Saudi Arabia or similar. Perhaps the Islamophobes amongst the liberal First World Sorosazzi memeocracy may do themselves a favour by actually learning a thing or two about what Shiʿi jurisprudence actually entails before getting on their high cultural-warrior horses. Certainly Iran has its own fair share of problems, and miscarriages of justice do occur like any other society, but the exaggerations and sleights of hand by the Sorosazzi are on the level of deliberate misinformation and disinformation, with this instance of the Jabbari case being of the order of outright black propaganda and cultural smear.
Now, per the Twelver Shiʿi approach to the jurisprudence of the Shariʿa, in a murder case such as this the final verdict on a death penalty resides with the family of the victim alone. The victim’s family has the right to either stay or enforce it. In other words, this right is bestowed on the family of the victim and not the State. As per independent statements made in the Iranian press and especially the one by the Tehran Chief Prosecutor, authorities exhausted all opportunities in order to allow the family of Sarbandi to stay the execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari. That this case dragged on for several years (after its original verdict by the lower court and then its review by the superior court was handed down) is proof. They refused and continued to insist on their right to have the verdict carried out all the way until Saturday, October 25 2014, when it was finally carried out. This is how the Iranian judicial system works. If the Sorosazzi have a problem with the death penalty eo ipse, this is another discussion entirely. However, the constitutionality of the death penalty within the Iranian context in no way mitigates against its contextual legality, nor can it theoretically impugn the established facts of this case or the judicial process which found Reyhaneh Jabbari guilty of first-degree, premeditated murder of Mr Sarbandi. Western jurisprudents, for their part, need to understand this important distinction here, unless, that is, they wish to make a complete mockery of their own discipline.
Moreover, and to quote friend and colleague Professor Idris Samawi Hamid (Dept. of Philosophy, Colorado State University) from a status update on his Facebook wall, one of the functional pillars of Western colonialism and imperialism since the eighteenth century stands as (brackets and italics mine),
…the never-ending wet dream of privileged ‘white men’ saving brown women from ‘brown men’. Of course, in this Feminist age, we have to add privileged ‘white women’ as a conjunct to ‘white men’. In the interest of Islam's strictures against race-based discourse…we will speak of Euro-American instead of ‘white’, where the term ‘Euro-American’ is being used to represent an ideological orientation adopted by many privileged white [people] as well as by [those] coopted privileged brown or other peoples of non-European origin [i.e. the native informer]. This syndrome (in its race-based formulation) has, interestingly enough, been identified most emphatically by left-wing feminists such as Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. From the (crude) Tarzan to the (beautiful) film Avatar, from Pocahantas to Malala, this syndrome of Euro-American Liberal arrogance has continued unabated. The latest incarnation? The…[meme] headline “Iran Hangs Woman Who Attacked Rapist” in dozens of forms across the Internet (such as “World outrage as Iran executes ‘rape victim’”)… Instead the faceless Iranian man is slandered in front of the world as a rapist, pronounced guilty by the Western Liberal media with not a shred of criticism [or evidence]. After all, he's a man in Iran, and a musalman [i.e. a Muslim], so he must be horrible and deserved to die!!! And the defendant is paraded as some poor innocent “victim” who needs privileged and “enlightened” Euro-American men (and women) to save her…
For the Sorosazzi in North America, Britain, Europe and Australasia to be waxing indignant over this case is quite rich indeed. A society that acquitted George Zimmerman of the first-degree murder of Treyvon Martin; where paedophiles infest its institutions of power on all levers and levels of authority and have been abusing and terrorizing citizens (especially children) for decades, if not longer; where child protection laws, their advocates and lobbyists, child social services and forced adoption industries (and possibly global paedophile and child pornography rackets) are hand in hand working together for profit; where scores of individuals (especially women) sit on death-row convicted of crimes far, far less egregious than Reyhaneh Jabbari’s; where the normal functioning of judicial institutions is breaking down daily because due process is deliberately being whittled away by (s)elected (but actually ‘bought’) legislative bodies for the benefit of corporatocracy; where abuses of power and privilege by officials is out of control but has nevertheless become routine; where government mass surveillance has eviscerated all individual privacies; where the militarization of police and the epidemic in instances of police brutality is daily witnessing the total brutalization of scores of innocent civilians at the hands of genuine sociopaths like never before; where imperial over-reach is daily plunging this planet into more fire and blood; the representative elites of the political-military-judicial-industrial-surveillance-academic complex of such a society have no business or right to be preaching human rights to anyone or to wax morally indignant about judicial decisions made in Iran, let alone to impugn the process or its outcome.
Once more, let us reiterate and highlight this fact that the term of this case went for seven years and all legal processes and avenues were exhausted. Legally, the guilt of Reyhaneh Jabbari was established beyond all reasonable doubt and all the professional jurists in Iran, especially those who were actually involved in the case, are in accord that justice was met here. What is also quite remarkable about this case is (that despite all the mountains made out of mole-hills by the Transatlantic Sorosazzi) how routine and by the book it all played out. The degree to which authorities went out of their way to try to convince Sarbandi’s family to stay the execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari also needs to be underscored. Those who believe otherwise are defied to prove otherwise. Naked women from the originally Soros-funded FEMEN group making spectacles of themselves outside Iranian embassies in central Europe hardly constitutes proof. Cheap performance hooliganism, yes; proof, no. Perhaps these gals would actually serve themselves better by ceasing to be puppets and dupes to sinister agendas much bigger than themselves by going and watching Federico Fellini’s acclaimed film instead, while reflecting on its underlying meaning. Maybe then they can actually go and protest real human rights violations around the world in the unmitigated crimes against humanity daily committed by Empire rather than those cause celebres elsewhere Empire conveniently uses to smokescreen and pepper over its crimes.
 A film about a decadent and decaying elite.
 For a critical treatment of the typology of the ‘native informer’ in relation to Iran, see Hamid Dabashi, Brown Skin, White Masks, Pluto Press, 2011.
 See Tony Cartalucci of the site Land Destroyer, Amnesty International is US State Department propaganda, http://landdestroyer.blogspot.de/2012/08/amnesty-international-is-us-state.html