Happy times for the Iranian regime

Music can be heard from 500 meters away; Renting a computer is obviously worthwhile. The musicians sit on a plateau in the Rosenanger Park in Berlin’s Froehnau district, surrounded by lush vegetation. A pair of Kanun and Oudu play Turkish music with moderate motivation, after which Yakub Kilik, representative of the Iran House, the Iranian cultural representation in Germany, announces a handpan that he says he doesn’t know. Finally, a burly guitarist plays passable Andalusian music and sings in Spanish, his accent beginner-level at best.

Hamid Mohammadi has been a Cultural Counselor at the Iranian Embassy in Berlin since 2019. He heads the Iranian Cultural Representation, a cooperation partner of the Rose Festival.

About 15 visitors listen to it on September 3rd, very few from the neighborhood. There is no trace of the rose products and “Iranian folklore about roses” mentioned in the declaration of “1”. Rosenfests am Rosenanger « advertised on posters, flyers and online. The event is part of the Berlin Senate Culture and Europe’s “Draussenstadt” project, from which the International Association for Cultural Cooperation receives funding for the Rose Festival. Kathleen Gobel is the president of the association, calling Klick by his first name through the microphone. All the Iranian women who stand at the stand with Iranian sweets or stand with their families behind the hedge, and the two who are supposed to be visible at the concerts are strictly veiled.

Hamid Mohammadi stands a little off, and Kobel introduces him to a guest. Mohammadi has been the Cultural Counselor of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Berlin since 2019. He heads the Iranian Cultural Representation, which is a cooperation partner of the Rose Festival. Other cooperation partners are the Hafiz Cultural Institute and the Saadi Cultural Institute, institutions of Iranian cultural representation, located in the Iran Palace in the Lichterfelde Villa district. In 2020, Mohammad drew attention to himself by drawing comparisons to the Holocaust: he shared with his friends on Facebook a post by Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who questioned the criminal responsibility of Holocaust denial, which Die Welt announced at the time.

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In 2012, Mohammadi headed the Cultural Center of the Iranian Embassy in the Canadian capital of Ottawa. The center organized events and language courses, supported the establishment of associations and centers for “Iranian studies”, for example at universities, and participated in events organized by partners loyal to the regime, such as a conference in honor of revolutionary leader Ruhollah. Khomeini. The symbols of the cultural center in Berlin and the Iranian cultural representation are similar. On posters, flyers and online information about the Rose Festival, it is emblazoned as an official collaboration, next to the Berlin Senate Culture and Europe logo.

The Press Office of the Senate Department of Culture informed Jungle World on August 25: “All logos used by funded projects (including the Senate Department logo) are available for download to funded projects and use of the logos must therefore be binding.”

A security warning is currently displayed in the browser when trying to access irankultur.com, the website of the Cultural Representation. Videos about “apartheid in Palestine” were recently seen there, and al-Quds Day was promoted on Cultural Representation’s Instagram page. The Berlin State Office for the Protection of the Constitution responded to Jungle World’s question regarding the links on August 26: “A first examination of the content shows that the references you submitted are examples of hostility against Israel promoted by Iran. Related to anti-Semitism.”

In response to an inquiry to Berlin’s State Secretary for Culture, Torsten Wohlert (Left Party), with this response from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, it is against this background that he considers funding a project with Iranian cultural representation. His press office announced on August 31 that the Bundestag resolution on the anti-Semitic BDS campaign must be fair and consistent: »In the applicant’s application ›Cultural Cooperation‹ (…) Iran House‹ is not mentioned as a cooperation partner. The jury selected the project based on the submitted application. Information about other cooperation partners reached us only through your request. « The press office of the Senate Chancellery Berlin did not respond, the spokesperson of the Senate Department for Justice, Diversity and Anti-Discrimination, thus the anti-Semitism officer , refers to the “detailed” answers of the press office of the Senate Department for Culture. He no longer responded to questions about how he evaluates the use of logos and whether, based on new information, a decision to withdraw the grant is being considered.

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Mohammad made no secret of his mission to Canada in 2012. In an interview with an Islamic Republic of Iran-based Persian-language news portal targeting Iranians in Canada, he predicted that the birth rate would increase the number of Iranians in Canada only if the Iranian community “integrates into the dominant Canadian culture” and “higher” positions. We need to conduct very focused cultural programs to inculcate and cultivate culture in the coming population. It is clear that great Iranian people can serve our beloved Iran only through these programs and gatherings.

These comments prompted Canada’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to issue a statement saying that the Iranian embassy should not interfere in the decisions of Iranian Canadians. In September 2012, Canada closed its embassy in Tehran and expelled all Iranian diplomats from Canada, including Mohammadi. In Germany he could continue his activities unhindered, with the support of willing German helpers and public funding.

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