Saturday, May 28, 2005

Iran TV Slams Foreign 'Propaganda'

BBC News:
An Iranian television channel has accused foreign media organisations of interfering in the country's forthcoming presidential election, just three days after the official start of the campaign.

In a special programme shown on Saturday, the 24-hour news channel Iranian News Network TV said foreign broadcasters, including Persian-language radio stations based abroad, were attempting to affect the outcome of the poll, scheduled for 17 June, by urging a low turnout. READ MORE

"The foreign media are resorting to all the tricks in the book," said the programme's presenter. "The policy of creating division and discord is one of their old ploys."

"Iranian News Network TV receives and records pictures from news media all over the world," added a correspondent.

"Their propaganda can be summed up in one sentence - divide and rule."

'Solidarity and unity'

The channel said some overseas broadcasters were seeking to open up divisions in Iranian society by encouraging members of ethnic minorities not to cast their votes.

It then showed a series of interviews with representatives of these groups, who professed to a strong commitment to the electoral process as well as a distrust of external influences.

"The Kurds will definitely take part in the elections as Iranians because they love Islam and their homeland," one Iranian Kurd told the channel.

"The enemies of Iran are afraid and scared of the solidarity and unity of the people of Iran," argued a member of the Azeri community.

And in a live link-up with the studio, two university lecturers urged all Iranians to study the aims of such "foreign propaganda" to make sure they are not deceived.

No immunity

But domestic media have also come in for fierce criticism over their campaign coverage.

Earlier this month, hardline MP Mehdi Kouchakzadeh launched a stinging attack on the Iranian press after one paper published an article which he said misrepresented his conduct in parliament.

"You are a bunch of liars who don't believe in anything and lie for a loaf of bread," the MP told one reporter.

Around 60 journalists gathered outside parliament several days later to protest against his remarks and what they see as a wider crackdown on the media.

The next day, the moderate daily Etemaad published a commentary calling on the Iranian establishment to accept the notion of being criticised in the media.

"In a democratic system, no one and no institution enjoys immunity or a safety margin," it said.