Remarkable footage emerged this week of the inside of the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran, which after being stormed in 1979 was partially turned by Iran into a museum for anti-American and anti-Israel propaganda. Other parts of the complex were handed over to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Western media outlets had not been allowed to film the building’s inside the 1979 hostage crisis.
Journalists from CNN’s Turkish service were granted rare entry into the part of the building that serves as a museum. Journalist Ahu Ozyurt wrote up the visit for Turkey’s Hurriyet. In between immaculate gardens, the Iranians have found space for agitprop:
The building was intact, the garden lush with flowers. There was even a gardener taking care of the plants as we entered the big gate. He quickly smiled and disappeared. We took the steps that were covered with some real propaganda art, figures of babies dying under U.S. planes, al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Even though it was graffiti, there was a hidden quality to it.
Another exhibit includes a poster describing how hostage takers were magnanimous in deciding to release “ladies and darks,” the latter a reference to African-Americans.
Some of the materials inside the museum were already roughly known to Western observers In 2009 a TIME magazine staffer managed to travel undercover in Tehran and peek inside the museum. The anti-American propaganda was not subtle:
One illustration replaces the Statue of Liberty’s face with a satanic skull. Another down the block shows a black hand wearing the flags of the U.S. and Israel as wristbands and clutching a globe in its talons; the inscription, from the Islamic republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, reads, “The United States is regarded as the most hated government in the world.” The former Supreme Leader declares in other panels that the U.S. is “too weak to do anything” and refers to the U.S. government as a “dictatorship.” In case the message has not gotten through, visitors who exit the nearby subway station are immediately faced with a hard-to-miss sign: “Death to USA.”
Less well known is the statue at the building’s entrance, which shows Lady Liberty in her traditional pose but with her rib cage ripped open revealing vertical bars resembling those found on jail cells. Opposite her at the main entrance is a statue of an American with his hands behind his head, as U.S. diplomats were forced to do during the hostage taking.
[Photo: Slick-o-bot / Wiki Commons]