Obviously the foreign policy agenda of the western governments has a lot of effect on the western media’s coverage of the Iranian elections. But there is another factor at work here as well. The factor is that of the ‘digital divide’.
Only about 40% of the Iranian population live in large cities. Large cities are also where the main population base of the opposition figures lie (Balen & Doherty, 2009). Internet access is available to at most about one third of Iranians. Most of these Iranians are young urban and affluent (Balen & Doherty, 2009).
Like in most other countries, urban Iranians tend to be much more liberal than their rural counterparts, similarly university students and graduates tend to be the most liberal sections of the society. According to the experts behind the first survey:
“The only demographic groups in which our survey found Mousavi leading or competitive with Ahmadinejad were university students and graduates, and the highest-income Iranians” (Ballen & Doherty, 2009).
Denizens of large cities form a minority of the Iranian population, however partially due to the fact that they have access to the internet, they are able to take over or dominate the global discourse on the issue of the Iranian elections and present their views as the views of the majority of Iranians.
Another example is the issue of Female Circumcision, which is often referred to pejoratively as ‘Female Genital Mutilation’ in the Western media.
The campaign against Female Circumcision is lead mostly by western feminist organizations, along with a few female African immigrants to the west. In many African countries there is widespread support for the practice among women (AWA-FC, 2009).
According to the beliefs of some traditional African societies, the clitoris on a female is like a vestigial penis, which has to be removed in a traditional ceremony in order for a young girl to grow into womanhood. In African countries like Sierra Leone, women have carried out protests against what they perceive as west-inspired anti-female circumcision campaigns.
However the discourse in the western news media is entirely in the hands of feminist organizations that have a prejudiced belief that Female Circumcisions are something imposed on the African women by the ‘Patriarchy’.
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