- By Cara Parks
Cara Parks is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. Prior to that she was the World editor at the Huffington Post. She is a graduate of Bard College and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and has written for The New Republic, Interview, Radar, and Publishers Weekly, among others.
Iran suspended accreditation for Reuters today, but not, as one might expect, over reporters prying into the country’s nuclear activities or besmirching the good name of the Supreme Leader. Instead, Reuters is reportedly being sued by a group of female Iranian ninjas, like the one pictured above.
A video produced by Reuters about the thousands of women learning ninjutsu was unfortunately titled, “Thousands of female Ninjas train as Iran’s assassins.” The inference that the women — whose interest in the ancient martial art is primarily motivated by “staying fit,” according to one participant — are violent marauders offended the athletes, who are overseen by the Ministry of Sports’ Martial Arts Federation. In case it wasn’t obvious, you don’t want to offend a highly-trained cadre of Iranian ninjas. Anger these black-belted beauties and they’ll … take their legitimate complaint to the appropriate authorities who will suspend your press credentials. Hiiiii-yah!
Reuters released a statement about the gaffe, saying, “We acknowledge this error occurred and regard it as a very serious matter. It was promptly corrected the same day it came to our attention.” The agency is currently in negotiations with Iran to regain accreditation (There are 11 accredited Reuters employees in Iran). However, the ninjas argue that the damage has already been done.
“It can harm our chances to travel to other countries to take part in global tournaments and international championships because Reuters is considered by many to be a reliable source,” Raheleh Davoudzadeh told PressTV, Iran’s semi-official news agency.
While the assassins line might not seem like the highest order of business for a country facing sanctions and potentially an armed attack, glibly labeling a group in a way that plays into stereotypes about violence is no laughing matter. As poll after poll shows, language matters tremendously when people are asked to consider military action.
Don’t believe us? Why don’t you tell her that.