Pictures speak louder than words

Arab press prefers cartoons over hard coverage of Iranian unrest.

anti-iran cartoon 248 (photo credit: )
anti-iran cartoon 248
(photo credit: )
When it comes to addressing the current unrest in Iran in Arab media, pictures speak louder than words. Since last month's Iranian elections, Arab newspapers have been writing relatively little about the contested elections and subsequent protests. But the wave of political cartoons on the subject has overwhelmed the lack of news stories and op-eds. These cartoons tend to be opposed to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's place in power and harsh ruling tactics. According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), topics include "the popular uprising, the vote-rigging, and the distortion of the democratic process during the elections, as well as Iran's pseudo-democracy and the question of who was the real election victor." In the cartoon "Iranian Elections" by Muhammad Saba'ne published in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida published in the Palestinian Authority last month, a ballot box is attached to a toilet, indicating that the election votes were flushed away, poking fun at the supposedly democratic progress. Cartoonist Amjad Rasmi drew a cartoon for Al-Sharq Al-Awsat published in London titled "Iranian Regime's Vain Attempts to Stop Coverage of Protests" that depicts Iran trying to block out the sun with a sieve as a metaphor for the government hopelessly attempting to stop coverage of protests. "The Iranian Regime's Suppression of the Civil Revolt" by Abdullah Jaber shows a dying Iranian protester lying next to a sign that reads "Where Are Our Votes?" in Arabic. These are just a few samples of the myriad of illustrations used to portray suspicion and disgust toward the Iranian regime in the Arab press. According to Al-Jazeera's Web site, cartoons represent "policies and practices of Arab governments and Arab rulers," with intent to enable English readers all over the world "to know about the impact of the policies" on Arabic nations. While most of the Saudi Arabian press's cartoons are about the effect of Israeli and American governments on Arab countries, such stories are taking a backseat to internal struggles as far as Iran is concerned in the realm of political cartoons.