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Tehran media shuns inaugural.

The Iranian media downplayed or even ignored Barack Obama's inauguration as U.S. president. State television led their news reports with demonstrations of support for the Palestinians.

Many newspapers judged the inauguration was not a front page story. For example, Iran Daily, the major English language paper, put the inauguration on page eight of its 12-page Wednesday issue.

The ultra-conservative Kayhan daily dubbed Obama as "a big fan of Zionists," and carried a cartoon showing outgoing President George W. Bush handing the Israeli flag to the new Democratic leader.

The conservative Hamshahri ran a sarcastic headline: "The change advocate, who changed," noting what it described as Obama's "recent change of tone" to support war policies of the previous Republican administration. Actually, Obama has been largely silent on foreign policy issues.

Agence France Presse (AFP) sent reporters to query university students belonging to the Basij as they celebrated the "victory of Hamas in Gaza" against Israel. Not surprisingly, most of the students were staunchly hostile to America. But not all of them.

"They [Americans] stopped threatening us with military attack, but they increase economic sanctions against us and continue to be hostile toward us," a young philosophy student, Abdollah Bani Hassani, told AFP.

A fellow student, Behruz Khan Mohammadi, called Obama "a puppet.... The U.S. policy does not depend on one person. It is the Israelis who decide the policy."

A female student, Rayhaneh, criticized Obama for being "only a slogan chanter.... He would possibly start a dialogue, but it will have no result because what Iran wants is 180 degrees different from what the United States wants."

A 21-year-old unemployed man, Ali Reza Hedayati, said, As long as Iran takes the same anti-Israeli position, there will be no change.... Like his predecessor, Obama wants Iran to suspend uranium enrichment."

Hojat, a 34-year-old businessman, said, "We are responsible for what we go through and for the pressures exerted against our country. Fortunately, countries like China refuse to sanction us, otherwise we would have been finished."

A 42-year-old businessman, Babak, said he wants a change of policy by both sides.

"If we had at least a more moderate stance inside the country, we could be hopeful that things would change under Obama's administration," he said.
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Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Date:Jan 23, 2009
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