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Iran: media and the message.

Changes at the top of Iranian television and radio point to a resurgence of cultural paranoia and a reaffirmation of the influence wielded by militants within the clerical hierarchy. Coinciding with the reiteration of the notorious fatwa fat·wa  
A legal opinion or ruling issued by an Islamic scholar.

[Arabic fatw
 against Salman Ruhsdie, Iran is clearly telling the West that it is no mood for compromise. Peter Feuilherade reports on Iran's siege mentality siege mentality nBelagerungsmentalität f , and in an accompanying article assesses the prospects for improved relations with Iraq.

IRAN HAS replaced Mohammed Hashemi, President Rafsanjani's younger brother Wiki is aware of the following uses of "'Younger Brother":
  • Younger Brother (music group)
  • Younger Brother (Trinity House) - a title within the British organisation, Trinity House
, as head of radio and TV broadcasts, in a step interpreted as a concession to the conservative clergy. Hashemi, who held the post for 13 years, was closely associated with his brother's pragmatic policies and viewed as a relative liberal prepared to bend the rules. He had allowed Iranian radio to play bland Western pop music and television to show foreign films, albeit heavily censored. He had also tried to widen the appeal of state TV and radio away from religious affairs and boring programmes on the achievements of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Hashemi was succeeded as head of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, or IRIB, (Persian سازمان صدا و سيمای جمهوری اسلامی  (IRIB IRIB Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting ) by Ali Larijani Ali Ardashir Larijani (Persian: علی اردشیر لاریجانی; born 1958) is an Iranian politician, and a member of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran. , the minister of Islamic culture and guidance since 1992, who is thought likely to adopt a more hardline media policy. Larijani's appointment, for a five- year term, was announced in a decree last February by Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah ayatollah: see Shiites.

In the Shiite branch of Islam, a high-ranking religious authority regarded by his followers as the most learned person of his age. The ayatollah's authority rests on the infallible imam.
 Ali Khamenei, who has direct control over IRIB.

The decree said the "general situation in the country demands that |radio and television~ adopt a new policy in line with the overall progress of the Islamic republic An Islamic republic, in its modern context, has come to mean several different things, some contradictory to others. Theoretically, to many religious leaders, it is a state under a particular theocratic form of government advocated by some Muslim religious leaders in the Middle . It should give priority to the quality of programmes, while quantity should come next."

One of IRIB's main tasks would continue to be to confront what Khamenei termed "the propaganda and cultural onslaught" of the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  and its allies. He enjoined Iran's broadcast media to avoid "banal and sensual" music, and to produce arts programmes with "social, political and ethical content". Khamenei also dissolved IRIB's policy-making pol·i·cy·mak·ing or pol·i·cy-mak·ing  
High-level development of policy, especially official government policy.

Of, relating to, or involving the making of high-level policy:
 council, granting Larijani total control over decision-making. The new IRIB head was also appointed a member of the High Council of Cultural Revolution, which lays down guidelines for cultural activity in Iran.

A few hours before his resignation was announced, Hashemi had met Khamenei, who thanked him for his efforts over the years but pointed to "shortcomings A shortcoming is a character flaw.

Shortcomings may also be:
  • Shortcomings (SATC episode), an episode of the television series Sex and the City
" in radio and television, and urged greater vigilance against "enemy propaganda."

A Majlis Majlis (مجلس) is an Arabic term meaning "a place of sitting" used to describe various types of formal legislative assemblies in countries with linguistic or cultural connections to Islamic countries.  committee report on IRIB last November listed charges ranging from embezzlement embezzlement, wrongful use, for one's own selfish ends, of the property of another when that property has been legally entrusted to one. Such an act was not larceny at common law because larceny was committed only when property was acquired by a "felonious taking," i.  to spreading un-Islamic ideas, showing too many Western cartoons and allowing members of opposition groups to infiltrate television. Hashemi retorted that he had only been following guidelines set by the late Ayatollah Khamenei and his successor Khamenei, and accused his critics of "stone-age thinking".

The replacement of Hashemi was viewed as a move by Khamenei to appease the conservative Islamic right wing, whose support in the majlis is essential at a time of economic and political crisis.

Sources in Tehran said the move might appear to be aimed against Rafsanjani, but they doubt whether Khamenei would have acted without consulting the president. "They both need the conservatives at this time. Rafsanjani may well have sacrificed his brother for the sake of political expediency," a Tehran commentator said.

Hashemi's departure -- to a new post as first deputy foreign minister -- represents a victory for those who fear the West's perceived cultural encroachment and for the critics of Iranian reformists' attempts to offer more tempting alternatives for the country's youth, as exemplified in the recent launch of a new TV entertainment channel.

Equally contentious has been the opening of several thousand outlets supervised by the Islamic Guidance Ministry, where Iranians can rent video cassettes of acceptable Western-made films, in a bid to reduce dependence on the thriving illicit market. Under Ali Larijani, such cultural flexibility is likely to disappear from Iranian broadcasting.

Ayatollah Ebrahim Amini Ayatollah Haj Shaykh Ebrahim Amini (born in 1925 in Najaf Abad in Isfahan) is an Iranian politician in the Assembly of Experts. He is also a member of the Expediency Discernment Council. , speaking at Qom Friday prayers, called for radio and TV under Larijani to become "an open university for moulding virtuous citizens". The changes at the top of Iran's broadcasting system coincide with the lifting of a ban on the purchase of video cassette recorders video cassette recorder

a device for recording and playing back television programmes and films

video cassette recorder video nVideorekorder m

 imposed after the 1979 revolution, and a statement by a culture ministry official that video cameras and recorders could be imported and would also be manufactured locally. Imports and sales of video tapes, however, will continue to be strictly controlled and subject to government censorship.

The state firm Pars Electric now hopes to produce up to 2,000 VCRs a day for the domestic market. At the same time Tehran police announced that more than 50 satellite TV dishes had been seized since the beginning of 1994, although their use or ownership is not officially banned, and satellite dishes can be bought in Tehran for about $500 apiece.

The new minister of Islamic culture and guidance, Mostafa Mirsalim, a former adviser to Ayatollah Khamenei when the latter was president between 1981 and 1989, was commended to majlis deputies as a "veteran revolutionary" by President Rafsanjani. Even before being formally approved in his new post, Mirsalim vowed to launch a purge against what he called "the corrupt elements of the Western arts in Iran".

He told the Iranian news agency: "The intellectual destruction of the Islamic Republic, as well as the discovery of the ways and means WAYS AND MEANS. In legislative assemblies there is usually appointed a committee whose duties are to inquire into, and propose to the house, the ways and means to be adopted to raise funds for the use of the government. This body is called the committee of ways and means.  to penetrate the revolutionary and Muslim people of Iran, are among the long-term programmes of the enemies of Islam." Contemporary Iranian artists This is a list of Iranian artists. Calligraphists
  • Gholam Hossein Amirkhani
  • Ali Bozorgmehr
  • Mir Emad Hassani
  • Bahman Panahi
Cinema artists

Actors and Actresses

  • Akbar Abdi
  • Bizhan Emkanian
 had to purge the "ugly stains" that existed because of the advent of "corrupt elements" of Western culture in the last century, Mirsalim added.

President Rafsanjani, who insists that the changes in Iranian broadcasting and at the culture ministry were not politically motivated, has indicated that he will not be seeking changes to the constitution that would allow him to stand for a third term.

The president's critics, on the other hand, view them as a consequence of the opposition Rafsanjani faces from an array of factions including majlis deputies, the Council of Guardians, the bazaaris and the supporters of the religious seminaries, as well as the armed forces and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps where support for Ayatollah Khamenei is strong.

Rafsanjani's foes also point to the growing popular dissatisfaction with his economic policies in the past two years, and claim that the balance of power has shifted in favour of Ayatollah Khamenei, to the president's detriment.

Iranians were also sceptical of official accounts of the apparent assassination Assassination
See also Murder.


Fanatical Moslem sect that smoked hashish and murdered Crusaders (11th—12th centuries). [Islamic Hist.: Brewer Note-Book, 52]


conspirator and assassin of Julius Caesar. [Br.
 attempt against Rafsanjani during the revolution's 15th anniversary celebrations in Tehran in early February.

Although officials initially played down the shooting as "a childish affair" and the work of a lone delinquent, they later described the incident as "a premeditated pre·med·i·tat·ed  
Characterized by deliberate purpose, previous consideration, and some degree of planning: a premeditated crime.
 plot" to undermine the Islamic Republic, and announced the arrests of 20 people with alleged counter-revolutionary links. The newspaper Salam, run by the religious activist, Musavi Khoiniha who was one of the leaders of the American embassy siege in 1979, said the so-called assassination explanation left many questions unanswered.

In another bid to channel growing domestic dissatisfaction, the government in February approved the formation of some 80 political and professional groups, out of about 400 organisations which had applied for permits from the Interior Ministry.

Last October, Ali Mohammad Besharati, the minister of the interior, said he was prepared to license all groups which accepted "the principles of the Islamic Republic's system". But no major opposition faction was evident among the first batch of groups licensed.

Iran is anxious not to be driven into greater isolation by American-led efforts to persuade the United States' allies that several aspects of Iranian policy are cause for international action. Washington lists its areas of concern as Tehran's alleged interest in nuclear weapons, its efforts to build a conventional weapons capability that could threaten its neighbours, its opposition to the Middle East peace process, its subversion of governments friendly to the United States, and its sponsorship of what Washington views as terrorism.

But despite US efforts to block Iran from renegotiating its foreign debt of $25bn, Iran and Germany agreed in late February to reschedule re·sched·ule  
tr.v. re·sched·uled, re·sched·ul·ing, re·sched·ules
To schedule again or anew: rescheduled the meeting for the following week; rescheduled the debts of many developing nations.
 some $2.6bn owed to German companies. The payments, due this year, will now be made between 1996 and 2000, the deputy foreign minister, Mahmoud Vaezi, said after talks in Germany.

Another obstacle to Iran having full and normal international relations international relations, study of the relations among states and other political and economic units in the international system. Particular areas of study within the field of international relations include diplomacy and diplomatic history, international law,  is its insistence that there can be no reprieve for Salman Rushdie Noun 1. Salman Rushdie - British writer of novels who was born in India; one of his novels is regarded as blasphemous by Muslims and a fatwa was issued condemning him to death (born in 1947)
Ahmed Salman Rushdie, Rushdie
 from the fatwa issued in 1989 by the late Ayatollah Khomeini Noun 1. Ayatollah Khomeini - Iranian religious leader of the Shiites; when Shah Pahlavi's regime fell Khomeini established a new constitution giving himself supreme powers (1900-1989)
Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini, Khomeini, Ruholla Khomeini
 for the British author's book The Satanic Verses
For the novel by Salman Rushdie, see .

For the controversy over the novel by Salman Rushdie, see .

Satanic Verses
, which allegedly insults Islam and the Prophet Mohammad.

The Iranian news agency said on the fifth anniversary of the fatwa that the Rushdie case was not a national issue, but a cause that had been taken up by more than 50 Muslim countries. Ayatollah Hassan Sanei, head of the 15th Khordad Foundation, which has offered a bounty of over two million dollars for Rushdie's head, said the time was right to kill him, and suggested that supporters of Rushdie who campaigned for the lifting of the fatwa also deserved to be punished, although he did not spell out what form that might take.

Britain's prime minister John Major urged Tehran to revoke the fatwa or face continued international isolation, France described the death threat to Rushdie as against the law and "intolerable", and the Dutch foreign minister summoned Iran's ambassador in The Hague to protest against Tehran's statement that the fatwa still stood. The majlis Speaker, Ali Akbar Nateq Nuri, responded by warning Western countries not to spoil their relations with Iran over Rushdie, whom he described as "wicked" and "an apostate". He repeated the accusation that the West was using the Rushdie affair as "a weapon" to put pressure on the Islamic Republic.

President Rafsanjani, announcing that he would not stand for a third presidential term, added that he, "as a soldier of the Islamic revolution, will serve the Islamic system in another trench". Despite the ousting of his brother as broadcasting supremo su·pre·mo  
n. pl. su·pre·mos Chiefly British
One who is highest in authority or command, as of an organization.

[Spanish and Italian, supreme, supremo, from Latin
, the president's grip on power remains firm.

But with Iran beset by rising inflation, high prices, unemployment and a huge foreign debt, and with no end in prospect to falling oil prices, his priority must be to halt the damage to the economy. The anticipated social reforms which many Iranians hoped for after Rafsanjani's presidential victory in 1992 seem an unlikely prospect now.
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Title Annotation:Current Affairs
Author:Feuilherade, Peter
Publication:The Middle East
Date:Apr 1, 1994
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