Iran’s fearsome Basij militia – a paramilitary squad loosely attached to the revolutionary guard – is hard at work imparting morality on the country’s youth. Using illustrated stories that mimic the style of comic strips, they aim to deter Iranians from living a ‘sinful’ Western lifestyle.
The Basij is a volunteer militia force in the Islamic Republic. In its vision of ethics and morality, Western influences are a one-way ticket to a lifetime of punishment. Satellite dishes, social networks, putting on make-up, forgetting to pray, and even going to the theatre are all sins that lead to misery, death and – in one instance - even rape for women. In one illustrated story, a ‘sinful’ woman eventually gives birth to a child that ends up repeating the same ‘mistakes’: sitting with a boy and smoking. The message is clear: if you live a lifestyle along Western lines, you’ll end up like the central protagonists of these ‘comic strips’.
Below are several examples of the Basij militia’s use of illustrated stories to ‘educate’ Iranian youth:
A family install a satellite dish on the roof of their apartment, in spite of the mosque just below.
Within moments, someone has already decided to attempt to commit suicide.
Women inside an apartment apply make-up and watch television.
While one woman applies make-up, the other watches a Western-style show in Iranian satellite television. The caption reads: 'We let satellites raise our kids'.
It's prayer time, yet this man has decided to lie on the couch and forgets to pray. The caption reads 'We sleep and won't wake up for God'.
Here, Iranian girls exchange Western films amongst themselves at school. The caption reads: 'The latest immoral movies are in the hands of our children'.
This caption reads: 'The house is not a calm place anymore'.
A young Iranian girl surfs social network sites online. It's not hard to guess which site she's using.
The young girl exchanges phone numbers with a man in the street.
The same girl's parents are now divorced - an outcome that apparently stemmed from their sinful, Western lifestyle. The caption reads: 'Divorce means share your loneliness in the street, my daughter'.
Following the divorce of her parents, the girl talks to men in the street. Temptation apparently stalks the girl at every corner.
A man offers the young Iranian girl a cigarette. The caption reads: 'Cigarettes become a cosmetic, like lipstick'.
A racy screening at an Iranian cinema. Tonight's film? 'Temptation'.
Here, the young girl browses fashion outlets featuring western-style clothing.
The young woman finds herself drinking and dancing in a nightclub. This caption reads: 'They drink and cheer for evil'.
The woman's night ends in rape. The caption: 'It begins with fun but ends with rape'.
The woman has now given birth to another child who apparently repeats the same 'mistakes' as her mother. The caption reads: 'And finally we raise the children worse than ourselves'.
This article was written by FRANCE 24 journalist Ershad Alijani.