Authoritarian regimes often dream through propaganda. To see what they're fantasizing about, we regularly check in on what state-controlled media outlets have been churning out.
China asks whether its students return from France more promiscuous
The Global Times, the colorful tabloid companion of the Communist Party's more staid People's Daily, found a rather shocking way this week to discuss China's study abroad programs and copyright law. A law professor named Zhang Haixia, the paper explained, had informed his class that "Chinese women come home super sluts after studying in France," only for footage of the comments to be posted online and shared widely. While the tabloid noted that Zhang believed those who forwarded the clip had unfairly harmed his reputation, it also explored whether the professor's comments had any truth to them. "That's total bullshit," one female Chinese student in France told the paper. "Students in France lead a normal life, study and do part-time work," she said.
The article came only days after the government-financed China Daily ran a fluffy article on how China had "captivated the imagination" of U.S. citizens who'd decided to move to China and work there. There was no indication that any of the people interviewed by the paper returned to the U.S. with changed sexual habits.
Iran blankets state media with 'Quds Day' coverage
On Friday, tens of thousands of Iranians marched in Tehran at a "Quds Day" rally, an "annual regime-sanctioned demonstration in solidarity with Palestinians and against Israel," AFP explains. As part of the celebration, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for the "full liberation of the Palestinian land" and Israel's "disappearance." The sentiment of Ahmadinejad's harsh words (he called the Zionist regime a "hotbed for germs and cancerous cells") was mirrored by state media coverage. According to AFP, state television broadcast large crowds in major cities and demonstrators carrying banners that read "Death to Israel" and "Death to America." Iran's state-run news websites are all blasting those messages in concert--a tactic these outlets often employ when the Iranian regime has a message it wants to transmit.
Here's a look at some of Iran's sites today:
Syria investigates attack on dissident cartoonist
On Thursday, we noted how masked gunmen had broken the hands of Syrian political cartoonist Ali Ferzat (above) as a "warning" for him to stop criticizing the government's crackdown on protesters. On Friday, the U.S. State Department blamed the Syrian regime's "thugs" for deliberately carrying out the "brutal attack" to prevent Ferzat from drawing.
But in a brief today, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency rejected the notion that the regime was responsible for the assault without explicitly saying so. The agency simply explains how Ferzat informed police that he'd been attacked and beaten by "veiled people," adding that authorities are now "conducting an investigation." Whether or not the approach is sincere, it's certainly different than the one the agency took when the death and apparent torture of 13-year-old Hamza al-Khateeb captured the world's attention. At that time, SANA aggressively singled out the "false accounts" of Hamza's death spread by "satellite channels and websites," asserting that the boy had joined "armed groups" who attacked Syrian security forces and that he hadn't been tortured.
Yemen: We promise, the president's coming home really soon!
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been recovering in Saudi Arabia from an assassination attempt since June, leaving his impoverished nation--which has experienced seven months of destabilizing protests--politically paralyzed. And for nearly as long, the state-run Yemen News Agency (SABA) has been issuing report after report promising that Saleh will return home soon without ever specifying when exactly it will happen. For awhile, the reports, which tend to quote government officials, claimed that Saleh would return as soon as his medical team decided that he was healthy enough to do so. But a report today experiments with a new excuse: Saleh can't return home until an investigation into the June attack on his presidential palace is complete. "Saleh will return after he has understood various facts that may have been out of the mind," SABA explains.