In an unsettling clip, children as young as 10 dressed in chadors or military uniforms, with pictures of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei pinned to their chests, learn how the mullahs “fight the enemies of Iran”, while their teacher showing them images of various weapons and military vehicles.
The teacher in this hellish children’s show said: “Come here for a moment children, have a look. Look at these military vehicles which are being used to defend our beloved country Iran.”
Then images of weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles, play across the screen, after which she explains that anti-aircraft missiles will prevent enemy aeroplanes from entering or “infiltrating” Iran.
After which, the children burst into a song about their fathers’ wishes of martyrdom and how he hopes to die for Iran.
The lyrics read: “My dad is a military man, a man of the Revolution. My dad fights our shameless enemies through defence and jihad – bravo! He nurtures Iran – bravo! Helping people is his motto – bravo! God helps him – bravo! My dad hopes to be a role model and sacrifice himself in the path of God. My dad’s role models are the martyrs.”
The revolution that they sing of is the 1979 Revolution, when the mullahs took over Iran, instituted a theocracy, and further repressed the Iranian people.
The US-based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) posted the clip on Twitter and provided an English translation for the programme.
The clip came out just one day after the US placed sanctions against an Iranian paramilitary group – the Basij Resistance Force – that stood accused of recruiting child soldiers to fight in Syria to support the Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
The sanctions also hit at a network of businesses that provided financing to the group as part the US campaign to increase economic pressure on Iran following Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May.
Propaganda is how regimes and dictatorships attempt to stay in power. They dehumanise the enemy, which in this case in the West, by making them look evil and wrong. However, propaganda in children’s shows is especially worrying, because the minds of children are still developing and these young kids cannot yet make an informed decision about the information presented to them.