Right-wing press continues to demonise Iran

Yesterday’s Daily Mail carried a report which began:

Not everyone at the Paralympics has been bowled over by the presence of Kate Middleton.

The Duchess of Cambridge was embarrassingly snubbed by an Iranian athlete who refused to shake her hand after she presented him with his discus silver medal on Sunday for “cultural reasons”.

The royal was warmly received on the podium by Team GB’s gold medal winner Aled Davies and Chinese bronze medallist Lezheng Wang – but when it was Mehrdad Karam Zadeh’s turn to step up, the 40-year-old failed to offer a hand to the Duchess, clutching them close to his chest.

The snub threatened to overshadow a glittering night for Paralympics GB, which enjoyed its most successful day of the Games so far with seven gold medals.

You only have to read a bit further down the report to find that this is just not true:

A spokesman for St. James’s Palace has revealed the Duchess was briefed beforehand and warned not to offer her hand to Zadeh.

“Many male athletes from Islamic countries do not shake hands in public with women they are not related for cultural and religious reasons,” the palace representative said.

“The Duchess was informed in advance and was happy to accept his wishes. She considered it an honour to present the medals.”

So, in reality, there was no “snub” at all, embarrassing or otherwise. Even the comments section following the report – and people who post their views at MailOnline are not generally known for their progressive sympathies – is full of readers pointing this out.

Without any acknowledgement that they misrepresented the situation, the Mail has now rewritten the report omitting the claim about a snub – though the headline has been beefed up to emphasise the message of Muslim misogyny. It now reads: “Iranian Paralympic athlete refuses to shake Duchess of Cambridge’s hand ‘for cultural reasons because she’s a woman’ at medal ceremony.”

This isn’t the only recent example of the right-wing press publishing nonsense about Iran. See also “The Daily Telegraph and a ‘fundamentalist’ Iranian MP”, Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion, 31 August 2012