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May 26, 2022



Son of former Czech President disseminates photo online with misleading Islamophobic commentary

19.2.2017 19:51
The photograph on the left was used by Václav Klaus, Jr., to disseminate anti-Islamic propaganda. On the right is another photograph of the same situation that gives a different picture.
The photograph on the left was used by Václav Klaus, Jr., to disseminate anti-Islamic propaganda. On the right is another photograph of the same situation that gives a different picture.

Václav Klaus, Jr. published a photograph from Iran on his Facebook profile on 15 February that purported to show women in Iran having to sit on the floor while the men around them were seated on chairs, commenting on it as follows: "A picture is sometimes worth more than a thousand words. This is (now this weekend) the beginning of the Women's World Chess Championship in Tehran. This is about female journalists - I don't know whether Iranian or from abroad. This is a decent country, uncontrolled street violence does not happen there. They are not far from developing a nuclear weapon. Despite that, their idea that a woman is considered the kind of being that is closer to a dog - doesn't that give you mixed emotions?"

Klaus ml. status

Those who then discussed the photograph with him online informed him that his description of the photograph does not correspond to reality - it is not a photograph from the current international chess championship, but a photograph from a press conference in the summer of 2013 on the occasion of Javad Zarif being appointed Iranian Foreign Minister. After that, Klaus, Jr. added the source of the photograph to his post.

An internet server devoted to chess in Nový Bor, Czech Republic was apparently the first online source in the Czech-language environment to comment on the photograph as follows:  "From the press conference. Room for female journalists? Clearly. Ladies, please, have a seat."

That server took the image from a French server devoted to chess, where it was used as an illustration with a neutral desciption, but the article it referenced as the source had been published on the US-based news server Huffington Post with the headline "Female Journalists Sitting On Floor In Iran An Illustration Of Gender Inequality?" In that article, the author quotes Iranian commentators and journalists calling the situation captured by the photograph "shameful" or saying "No. No. No. Women’s place is NOT on the floor." - stating their amazement that the women were not offered chairs.

Same photo, different angle

Another photograph is being disseminated online of the same event in which another woman can be seen - seated among the men. It is, therefore, a question whom the seats in the room were reserved for - were they just for politicians (and is the seated woman maybe even one of them?) or were they reserved for journalists?

It also seems from the photo that there not enough seats for all of the men there, either. Can it, therefore, be asserted on the basis of this photograph that women in Iran can only find a seat for themselves on the ground?

Let's assume that Klaus, Jr. committed a factographical error when he shared a post without verifying it. That can happen to anybody.

However, his "correction" of that error was just to cite the source of the "information" and to leave the photograph on his profile. Why did he do that?

Is there any reason to consider this post of his manipulative? Would such an embittered discussion have taken place beneath his comments about a situation on a tram in Prague, for example?

He could have posted something like this:  "Why are these apparently deathly exhausted men returning from their eight-hour shift (hahaha) not letting these exhausted women going home with their shopping bags have a seat on the overcrowded afternoon trams? The idea that a woman is considered the kind of being that is closer to a dog - doesn't that give you mixed emotions?"

That post would probably not have gotten the same attention. Klaus, Jr. intentionally chose a photograph from an Islamic environment in order to spark the antipathy (or for him, the sympathy) of his potential voters.

This is basically a hoax and a manipulation. In actuality, Klaus, Jr. does not care about women's rights - if he did, he would certainly have focused on this issue before.

We can see which part of the voter spectrum Klaus, Jr. is targeting by noting the willingness of disinformation "news" servers such as "Pravý prostor" to disseminate this post. That server directly expressed the point of the exercise without having to beat around the bush like the politician did:  "Like dogs. The place for women who are journalists in Islamic Iran at a press conference is on the ground."

Putting our own house in order

It is not possible to ignore the situation of Iranian women and the reports about their suffering, but it is also not possible to tar all of Iranian society with the same brush. "Women's rights in Iran have a long way to go," the author of the Huffington Post article quoted from above comments before reminding her readers that Iranian President Rouhani has begun taking some steps - for example, by choosing a woman, Elham Aminzade, as his Vice President - so far the only woman in his cabinet.

Among the 290 members of the Iranian Parliament there are 18 women - a representation of 6 %. For comparison and reflection, in the current Czech Government there are three women, and the representation of women in both chambers of the Parliament of the Czech Republic is roughly 20 %.

jal, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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