In a last-ditch effort to imply that it enjoys widespread support, the Iranian regime forced children to attend gatherings to sing a pop-genre song, “Hail to the Commander,” swearing allegiance to the mullahs’ supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.
The regime had made rehearsing this song mandatory for all elementary schools across Iran. The mullahs even went as far as to allow women to Tehran’s Azadi sports stadium to perform this song to project a hollow show of power.
These ridiculous escapades happened as people in Abadan, southwest Iran, were mourning their loved ones who lost their lives when a ten-story tower collapsed last week. While the children were forced to salute Khamenei, in the last few days, tens of thousands of people in scores of Iranian cities have been chanting “Death to Khamenei.”
Forcing children to perform such a song, vowing to defend Khamenei with their “little bodies,” and pledging to follow in the footsteps of Khamenei’s terror-master, Qassem Soleimani was an absolute abomination. But this was not the first time that a dictator has used innocent children as means of propaganda.
Like the religious fascism ruling Iran, the Nazi regime used children to spread propaganda. In his last years, and as his army lost battles, Adolf Hitler gathered children to sing anthems. Videos show thousands of children saluting the “Fuhrer” and vowing to support him until the end.
Later, when allied forces started their major offensives in Germany, the SS forces used children as cannon fodder and sent them to the front lines to defend the Nazi regime. Sending children and youth to the deadly warzones was the last stage of the Nazi’s two-decades-long propaganda.
Propaganda was one of the most essential tools the Nazis used to shape the beliefs and attitudes of Germans, mainly youths and children.
The Nazi party began targeting German youth from the 1920s onward, projecting the party as a movement for youth: dynamic, resilient, forward-looking, and hopeful. Books were illustrated in a way to promote hate and racism and encouraged children to spy on the Nazi’s “enemies.”
Since taking power in 1979, Iran’s religious fascism used the Nazis’ playbook, trying to present the regime as a sacred government and that the supreme leader was infallible and holy.
Using propaganda, the regime’s founder, Ruhollah Khomeini, prolonged the catastrophic Iran-Iraq war, sending hundreds of thousands of Iran’s vibrant youths and bright children to war fronts.
The regime’s functionaries in schools implied that underage students were sinners and sent contrite children to the frontlines. They were given a “key to heaven” and sent to sweep the minefields. Tens of thousands of children perished, many torn to pieces when the mines they were forced to run over blew up. As the regime started clamping down on opposition groups, children were forced to spy on their parents who opposed “Imam” Khomeini.
The Iranian regime later acknowledged that over 33,000 students were killed during the Iran-Iraq war on the frontlines. A 2001 report by Child Soldiers International Organization emphasizes that Iranian boys “as young as nine were reportedly used in human wave attacks and to serve as minesweepers in the war with Iraq.”
Iranian regime using children in its war machine
During the war in Syria, videos from Iran showed children singing anthems, expressing readiness to die “protecting the holy shrine of Zeinab,” the daughter of the first Shi’ite Imam, an excuse Tehran used to justify its ominous presence in Syria.
Why did the regime need to stage this abhorrent show now?
The Iranian youths have shown their abhorrence toward the regime during recent uprisings in Iran. The overwhelming majority of Iranians boycotted the regime’s sham parliamentary and presidential elections while calling for regime change.
Iran’s ruling theocracy has forced children to participate in such ridiculous theatrics to show that it enjoys legitimacy at home. But the so-called “Hail to the Commander” campaign backfired. Iranians used social media to express their hatred toward the regime and mocked the song, calling it “Hail to the hopeless” and “Hail to the abandoned.” People montaged Hitler’s speeches and gatherings on the “hail to the Commander” music, and a video by the Iranian opposition called “hail to the abandoned” went viral.
The situation reached a point where Iran’s state media acknowledged the failure of this despicable show of power.
“This song promotes militarism. It seems that we have a long battle ahead. There is no trace of people’s living problems, poverty, and brain drain. What are we trying to imply? This is not a national song and not even considered a good piece,” the state-run Ensafnews website wrote on May 21.
Protests are spreading across the country, and people from all walks of life demand their fundamental rights. They target regime leaders, especially Khamenei, for creating and exacerbating Iran’s financial calamities and misery.
The regime spent a considerable amount of money to produce the “Hail to the Commander” Song. While the regime’s propaganda machine works round-the-clock, it is safe to say, based on people’s reactions both in protests and on social media, the “Hail to the Commander” show completely backfired, only adding to people’s increasing hatred toward the regime.