Critics say promoting ‘Hello Commander’, a pop genre religious and ideological song among Iranian children is reminiscent of Hitler Youth in Nazi Germany.
State propaganda organizations and the ministry of education have been promoting ‘Hello Commander’ in schools since it was broadcast from state television for the first time this year after Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s Iranian New Year speech on March 20.
Teaching the song to children has apparently become compulsory in schools. In the past two months it has been performed at huge gatherings of school children in city squares and stadiums and broadcast by the state television (IRIB) in news and other programs.
‘Hello Commander’ is a song dedicated to Mahdi, the 12th Imam of Shiites who has been in occultation since the 9th century according to believers. The song and its promotion are unusual as the music is in the often frowned upon pop genre which has no place on Iran’s state media.
“Me, the little me, will become your general,” children sing to the Imam, promising him to rise up, to sacrifice everything to him, and to become his Ghasem Soleimani, the Revolutionary Guard’s Qods Force commander who was killed by the United States in Baghdad in 2020.
The song also mentions 313, the number of the Imam’s helpers when he returns to earth, and is full of words such as “soldier, general, commander, and “uprising” as well as other religious terminology and notions.
‘Hello Commander’ also mentions Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who is believed by his devotees to be the Imam’s representative on earth and has to be obeyed as the Imam would be if he were present among believers. “Hello Commander! Sayyid Ali [Khamenei] has called his children [to mobilize]!” children sing.
The education ministry is now planning a 100,000-strong gathering at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium to perform the song at a special ceremony next Thursday (May 26) although a football match this week at the same stadium was held with no spectators “to prevent the spread of Covid.” Many alleged that the decision to hold the match without spectators was a measure against eruption of an anti-government protest during or after the match
The promotion of the song by the state media is meant to indoctrinate children and brainwash them, critics allege. They also say the promotion of the song by state media and the Islamic Republic’s propaganda organizations is reminiscent of Nazi propaganda methods which included teaching children and the youth songs in praise of the Führer.
Many social media users have seen the song as propaganda for Khamenei as the Imam’s deputy, and commander-in-chief of Iran’s Armed Forces, and drawn a parallel between him and Hitler by sharing a video of Nazi Youth gatherings with the original audio replaced with ‘Hello Commander’.
“In his last years, like all other dictators, Hitler resorted to performance of a ‘Hello Commander’ song in schools to reassure his supporters but this didn’t save him from defeat because it was too late,” one of the many such tweets by critics said.
London-based Iranian journalist Morteza Kazemian also shared photos of Nazi Germany’s huge gatherings in Hitler’s support on Twitter with the ‘Hello Commander’ hashtag and said dictators are destined to fall, even if they are as powerful as Hitler.