Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs becomes latest victim of COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, Iran’s Ministry of Health announced that thus far, 26 people infected with the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, have died and that there were an additional 245 confirmed cases. The latest victim of the disease is Masoumeh Ebtekar, Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs. In 1979, she was the spokeswoman for radical Islamic fundamentalists who invaded the American embassy in Tehran and took 52 American diplomats and citizens hostage for 444 days. On Tuesday, Iran’s Deputy Health Minister was quarantined due to infection. Several other Iranian parliamentarians have become infected as well.
Globally, the coronavirus has a fatality rate of between 2 and 3 percent. In Iran, if official figures are to be believed, more than 1 in 10 die from the disease. Clearly, Iranian officials are lying about the extent of the disease and its rapid spread throughout the country. The Islamic Republic has also been the source of dozens of cases outside Iran. Countries including Afghanistan, UAE, Lebanon, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan and even Canada, have all traced infected travelers to Iran.
Radio Farda, citing reports by Canadian researchers, reports that the levels of those infected in Iran is much higher than government officials are willing to admit. According to the researchers, it is statistically possible that as many as 18,000 people are infected in the county. That figure is only expected to grow exponentially given the level of obfuscation by the government and the decrepit state of Iran’s healthcare facilities.
Given the dire state of affairs in Iran, one would think that Iranian authorities would take drastic measures, similar to those undertaken by the Chinese Communist government in Wuhan, to contain the spread of the virus. Like China, Iran is an authoritarian state that routinely deprives its citizens of due process. For example, during a two-week period beginning in late November 2019, the Iranian Basij militia, an auxiliary arm of the Iranians Revolutionary Guard Corps, was responsible for murdering 1,500 peaceful Iranian protestors demanding transparency and accountability. Thousands more were jailed without trial.
Yet shockingly, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, informed members of his cabinet that cities impacted by the coronavirus, like Qom, would not be quarantined. Only individuals with confirmed cases would be quarantined. Even more astounding, authorities have yet to shut a shrine in the city of Qom that attracts millions of Shia pilgrims. The pilgrims often kiss and touch the shrine and it is believed that a number of infections spread in this manner.
Rouhani, and the Iranian theocracy he represents is framing the coronavirus health crisis as an American conspiracy to undermine the regime and negatively impact morale. “We must not let the United States attach a new virus to the coronavirus by stopping our social activities through tremendous fear. This is a conspiracy we see today and you see in foreign propaganda,” Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting. He added, “They are also suffering from coronavirus. Influenza has killed 16,000 people in the United States, but they are not speaking about themselves. Americans better take care of thousands of flu casualties in their own country.”
The Islamic Republic, once a modern, forward-looking nation prior to the 1979 Islamic takeover, is now a third world backwater that sees enemies and conspiracies wherever it turns, and the coronavirus is no exception. Iran’s Cyber Police reported that it arrested 24 people for “spreading rumors” about the virus on the internet and warned 118 others that they would be subject to arrest for passing along information. Apparently, in Iran, the only people permitted to disseminate information on the virus are those whose deceit and incompetence led to the outbreak in the first place.
Instead of treating the epidemic as a grave health crisis, the regime is addressing it as coup attempt, provoked and engineered by the “Great Satan.” As a result, the virus continues to run rampant in Iran, infecting common citizens and government officials alike.
The people of Iran have watched as their government isolated itself from the international community by recklessly pursuing a rogue ballistic missile program and weapons of mass destruction. They’ve watched as their government squanders their nation’s wealth on fighting endless proxy wars in Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Yemen. According to US Treasury under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Sigal Mandelker, the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group alone receives $700 million in aid from Iran. Hundreds of millions of dollars are squandered elsewhere. This is money that could be used to treat those infected with the coronavirus and prevent its spread.
With its continued mendacity and reckless foreign and domestic policies, which border on the paranoid, Iran has dug its own grave. Now it must deal with the consequences.