Iran: ‘No Difference’ Between Conn. Shooting Victims and Those in Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan

Patrick Goodenough | December 17, 2012 | 4:58am EST
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A member of Iran’s Student Basij Organization. (Photo: Fars news agency)

( – The 20 young victims of Friday’s school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut are no different than those “who fall victim to armed actions” in the Gaza Strip, Iraq or Afghanistan, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said at the weekend.

An Iranian student paramilitary group, meanwhile, criticized U.S. gun laws, while President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used the tragedy to criticize what he called the “profiteering ambitions of a certain group … which have various destructive effects on the society and particularly innocent children and youths.”

An article on the foreign ministry website said ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast “urged the American society to trigger a movement to fight war-mongering actions and massacre of defenseless and innocent people across the world by armed people during terrorist and crazy incidents.”

“There is no difference between children and teenagers who fall victim to armed actions in Gaza or the U.S., Afghanistan or Pakistan, Iraq or Syria in human aspects,” state-funded Press TV quoted him as saying. “Everyone should attempt to establish peace, security and tranquility for all the people across the world.”

A slightly different translation in Tehran Times quoted Mehmanparast as saying, “The children and teenagers that fall victim to armed actions in Gaza, the United States, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, or Syria are not different on humanitarian grounds, and everybody should try to bring peace, security, and calm for all the world’s people.”

In his statement, Ahmadinejad said he received the news of the Connecticut shooting “with great sorrow.”

“Today, all nations including the majority of the noble people of the U.S. need an atmosphere of kindness and sincerity in their evolutionary path towards the domination of ethics, spirituality and respect for human rights and dignity, and the occurrence of such heart wrenching incidents has caused grave concerns among all,” he said.

“Is it not time to seriously and carefully look for the cause of such stunning violent acts and to fundamentally reconsider the policies and plans that are devised based on the material interests and profiteering ambitions of a certain group and which have various destructive effects on the society and particularly innocent children and youths?”

The Iranian student group that spoke out on the shooting was the Student Basij Organization (SBO), which falls under the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and is affiliated to the Basij volunteer militia blamed for much of the violence that followed Ahmadinejad’s disputed 2009 re-election.

“Hasn’t the time come for the U.S. government to think on its law?” the state-run IRNA news agency quoted the SBO as saying. “What is it which allows children, the youth and the young adults to carry arms?”

(Law enforcement officials said the weapons used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting were registered to the shooter’s mother, who was shot dead at her home. In Connecticut a person must be 21 years old to possess a handgun; Adam Lanza turned 20 last April.)

According to a 2010 Middle East Quarterly article by Iranian political scientist Saeid Golkar – now at Northwestern University – the SBO was responsible, along with other groups, for a 1999 attack on Tehran University dormitories that left one student dead and sparked six days of rioting. At the time supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the U.S. of financing the protests.

After Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005, Golkar wrote, the SBO became “a key instrument for enforcing the clerics’ hold on the universities.”

“They have become a useful tool for Supreme Leader Khamene’i and his regime as soldiers in a cultural and political war within Iran's universities. The important role played by SBO in controlling and suppressing dissent by students makes them one of the most important groups in Iranian society.”

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