The National Post and Ottawa Citizen on Iran's outreach efforts in Canada -

The National Post and Ottawa Citizen on Iran’s outreach efforts in Canada


Last month I wrote about Iranian efforts to reach out to ex-pat Iranians and other Muslims in Canada, through its embassy, front organizations, student group, and funding a lavish “student conference” for those who belong to approved “cultural communities.”

My story included reference to a Farsi-language interview given by Hamid Mohammadi, Iran’s cultural counselor in Ottawa, to an Iranian government website in which he talks about the embassy’s outreach program, which includes establishing new cultural centres, sending students and professors to Iran, and equipping Canadian universities with Farsi books.

In the last two days, the Ottawa Citizen and National Post have run splashy front-page articles based on Mohammadi’s interview. These have included a healthy dose of torque. Iran does engage in espionage in Canada, and is particularly interested in the loyalties of the Iranians here, who are watched and intimidated. Those who openly oppose the regime in Tehran risk endangering their families back home. My article gave an example of a young man who protested an embassy-funded event at Carleton University and subsequently had a court summons delivered for him at a relative’s home in Tehran. But for Postmedia papers to frame Mohammadi’s remarks as essentially an admission that Tehran is recruiting spies and potential terrorists is a stretch.

All told, I’m pleased other media are picking up this story. I will admit a vanity-driven grievance, though. The Post today claims that “news of the alleged mobilization emerged this month in a Farsi-language interview given by Hamid Mohammadi …” In truth, news about Mohammadi’s interview emerged in June, when I reported on it.


The National Post and Ottawa Citizen on Iran’s outreach efforts in Canada

  1. So is it your position that the Iranian embassy –
    * should not be allowed to contact Iranian Canadians?
    * should not be allowed to distribute books in Persian?
    * should not promote its oppressive ideal of a theocratic society?

    Basically it’d be nice, i.e. honest, if you dropped the reporter’s “just doing my job” mask and actually described why you’re obsessing on this remote country. Also you might pretend to be a bit less shocked that your report has produced paranoid editorials. In the absence of a clear statement of why you’re doing this, the production of paranoid editorials has to be considered the real purpose.

  2. Iran is doing what any other country would do with their embassies.
    If Canada is so mad why don’t they close their Embassy in Tehran and cut off relations with Iran!?!?!?
    I tell you why because their bosses in US and Isreal need that “spy den” open in Iran LOL!!!!

  3. Update. Wonder what the USA is doing about their resident Iranian-American plant – and they were suggesting terrorists crossing into the USA from Canada.

    “Leading Iranian-Canadian voices immediately rejected the embassy’s call. Last Friday, human rights advocate Nazanin Afshin-Jam – an Iranian-Canadian married to Defense Minister Peter McKay – said the embassy “uses cultural events as an excuse to spread their own propaganda” and “does not represent our voices.” Naturally, she became a victim of vicious attacks from pro-Tehran quarters for her principled stance against Iran’s theocratic despots. U.S. Iranian-American writer Hooman Majd took direct aim at her in his Twitter account. “Fucking a Canadian minister doesn’t make you a Canadian, my dear,” he wrote. “Come back to papa.” (The tweet has since been taken down.) Echoing the Iranian cultural counsellor, Majd assaulted her identity as a Canadian and ridiculed her loyalty to her adopted homeland.

    Majd’s unsavory words make sense when viewed in a wider geopolitical context. The rising cost of crippling economic sanctions threatens the clerical regime’s grip on power. Cornered like an alley cat, it reacts sharply to challenges from its opponents through its surrogates abroad. Having previously served as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s personal translator, Majd now portrays himself as an independent journalist and astute Iran observer. Consistent with this persona, he has made the media rounds, publishing in prestigious publications such as Foreign Affairs. He even testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the summer of 2009 as millions of Iranians poured in the streets demanding democratic change.”