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Iran: Government celebrates Journalist Day

The Iranian government celebrated Journalist Day on August 8, in spite of having arrested several journalists and banned many newspapers in recent months. The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said: “The work of journalists is of the same essence of that of the prophets: informing.”

According to Reporters without Borders at least nine of these “prophets” are in jail and many of them are in very bad physical condition and have no access to lawyers.

Several bloggers and journalists shared their feelings about Journalist Day and the difficult working conditions faced by journalists.

journalistday.jpg Empty places

Heidar Rezai published a photo of an almost empty auditorium where Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was supposed to deliver a speech to journalists. The blogger says [Fa], the president canceled his speech, and says some believe it was because of the empty place. The blogger suggests the timing of the speech was not ideal because many journalists were at work.

Covering neck and legs

Khabarnagar No (means New Reporter in Persian) describes how journalists work in Iran, and how much they must worry about everything. The blogger says [Fa]:

I want to write, but I fear whatever I write can be considered as an offense in the eyes of a responsible or a Ministry. I say I am not writing about politics and I do not write about Orange or Velvet revolutions, I just write about technology and science. They (the authorities) say to be careful not to criticize privatization of Iranian telecoms, filtering of mobile phones, or science education. Just write everything is OK. When I choose a title for my article I should be careful that the title does not make the authorities angry. If I want to publish a photo, then I should cover the neck of foreign women in the photo, and create trousers or a skirt to cover her legs… When we interview somebody, we should ask about the interviewee’s personal life to ascertain that she/he has not gone to disco or drunk champagne… For these reasons a journalist’s life is very difficult in Iran. You can not plan anything for your life, and when your journal gets shut down you cannot pay rent. You should be careful not to go to conferences abroad because you can be accused of spying.

Double Standards

Akbar Montakhabi, who worked at the recently banned Ham Mihan, is upset about Journalist Day, and says [Fa]:

Why do you send an SMS to congratulate us? Maybe because most of independent journalists of this country are jobless? Why is it the moment independent journals make the slightest mistake, they are accused of the worst things? I think we should omit Journalist Day from our agenda because journalists are not at all respected.

The blogger, who worked for 25 different journals in his lifetime, says there is a double standard in Iranian justice since mistakes in government journals are considered “errors” while the same mistakes in reformist journals would be considered an attempt to overthrow political power.

Just sweet words

Mojadleh, who says the priority of his blog is to inform people of the value of Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic and martyrs, criticized [Fa] a recent get together between Ahmadinejad and some journalists. The blogger says all the journalists present were just praising the Iranian president, his works, and his trips. Mojadeleh adds that not a single one of Ahmadinejad’s critics in the media were invited to this meeting.

Revolutionary Guards, terrorism and the CIA

Several Iranian bloggers talked about the recent news that the USA is preparing to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guards force as a “foreign terrorist unit”. Some of these bloggers point out that double standards exist in international relations too.

Cyrus Online reports [Fa] that one of the officials of the IRCG said to Jame Jam journal that the USA is fighting against the Islamic establishment and that Americans had already tried several plans but the IRCG makes progress and defends the Islamic Establishment.

Iranian Truth writes:

I have no complaints against listing the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization. My complaints are based upon the hypocrisies behind our foreign policy. If we’re going to condemn military agencies as terrorist organizations for their support of terrorism, then for the sake of credibility look beyond the borders of the Middle East. Because this certainly doesn’t create a standard for the US itself can meet. If financing and helping terrorism around the world is sufficient to classify oneself as a terrorist organization despite that organization being an agent of a sovereign entity, then it seems also appropriate to classify Mossad and the CIA as terrorist organizations.

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