Rivals Fail to Blame Iran for Munich Shooting
The Munich gunman who killed at least nine in a shopping center during a shooting spree has been identified as Ali David Sonboly, an 18-year-old German-Iranian who killed himself after the massacre a mile or so away from the scene. Whereas the earliest accounts of the attack had him yell “Allahu Akbar” in a Daeshite custom while shooting his young victims reportedly drawn to McDonald’s with an ad for free food posted on a fake Facebook account, a footage of him standing on a rooftop near the crime scene in a furious verbal fight with a man on an opposite balcony shows him shouting “I am German”. Early after the incident, Iranian Diplomacy contacted an official from Iran’s diplomatic mission in Germany who refused to comment on the then yet-to-unfold identity of the attacker but later in the evening, a senior Iranian diplomat said there was no connection whatsoever between the Munich rampage and the community of Iranian expatriates in Germany. “The German police sees no link between the attacker and the refined Iranian community,” Iran’s Consul General in Munich Abdollah Nekounam told ISNA. Munich police officials also rejected the possibility of a link to ISIS or any religious motives. Sonboly is now described as a depressed loner who had undergone psychiatric treatment and kept books on shootings in his room.
Nekounam added that the Germans will continue to look upon the Iranian society in a positive and favorable light. Nekounam noted that he had held detailed talks with the Munich Police Chief, Hubertus Andrae, and one of his deputies, saying they mainly discussed the police account of the incident from its beginning to the end and personal information regarding the attacker and his possible motives.
Iran’s official stance was condemnation of the attack even prior to the reports, as expected. Iran strongly condemned the shooting spree, urging international consensus towards fighting terrorism, PressTV reported. Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi voiced Tehran’s sympathy with the German government and people. “Today, fighting terrorism in whatever form and place should be considered as a serious and immediate demand of the international community and human conscience and the top priority by all countries in an international consensus,” PressTV quoted him as saying.
Even though the motive for the shooting attack is believed to be revenge for Sonboly’s bullying at school, the first reports sparked reactions in Iran as it was the first time an Iranian national was involved in such acts of terror. A Twitter account, named Haji Washington after an Iranian movie character, urged friends living in Germany to pretend they are “from Bangladesh” for the moment to see what happens next. National embarrassment had rushed through the veins of previously proud Iranians. “Never think of lighting candles in front of the German embassy, the ambassador will chase you wielding his baton,” another user with “Irani” as his surname tweeted. “I don’t see the reason for this self-mutilation. Why should we be ashamed of our Iranian/Middle Eastern identity? There are more reasons for the West’s shame in contemporary history,” wrote another.
Many Iranians who live abroad put more focus on reactions overseas. “Iranian-German becomes a trend in Germany. People are asking Iranians have been the best immigrants in adopting the new culture. Has anything changed?” Or others who noted the anti-Iranian context in which the Saudis were cooking the reports. In fact, #IranDistortingFaceofIslam had become a trend in the Sunni kingdom, with the country’s ‘cyber-army’ trying to seize the opportunity to ironically distort the face of Iran. “Saudis are so delighted with the Iranian origin of the Munich terrorist as if 15 out of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Iranian citizens!” tweeted a dissident Iranian journalist. The way the story was covered on international media had also infuriated the Arabs. “Arabs were protesting why the word “terrorist” was changed to “attacker” when it became clear the guy is German-Iranian, not an Arab,” read a tweet in Persian. As another Twitter user noted however, Iranians’ idea of the coverage was positive. “The Guardian writes a German with Iranian origin. The Telegraph writes an immigrant Iranian. The difference between a professional, responsible media outlet and those a-dime-a-dozen ones,” posted an Iranian. Others saw the lighter side of the reports. “An Iranian-Iranian squeezed in Subway,” a user joked. Despite all the jokes and hurried speculations, what has come to light once again is that efforts to blame Iran for any act of terror will continue to be in vain.