Monday, February 27, 2006

VOA Persian versus Al-Alam TV

Most people are aware of the conflict between the US and the Islamic Republic at the moment. Part of this conflict is currently being fought on air waves via TV stations.

I won't even bother to talk about the thrash LA based Persian TV stations, as I have written so much about them before. These TV stations are on shoe string budgets and thats all one can expect from them. VOA Persian program however, does have a proper budget. It has around 200 employees, if I am not wrong, so one should expect more from it than Persian TV stations based in LA.

Similarly the Islamic Republic of Iran, launched Arabic language Al-Alam TV station immediately after Saddam was overthrown. Unlike VOA Persian however, Al-Alam is is broadcast terrestrially.

Let me just give you one example of how the two operate. Conclude for yourself how gutless one is and how bald the other is.

Its February 11th, the anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran. Iranian exiles in London have gathered outside the Iranian embassy in London. They are almost all dressed in black signifying a black day in Iranian history. They are handing out leaflets which state this day is the birth of global Islamic terrorism. They are showing the world that not all Iranians are supporters of Ahmadi-Nejad. VOA reporter comes to the demo. She records the demo, the placards, talks to some demonstrators, and the English public who are reading the leaflets and their reactions. Everyone is happy that their effort is receiving coverage, until they see that none of this is broadcast on VOA TV. Why? apparently the goody too good editors in Washington, have decided that the demonstrators and their slogans were too radical in asking for the overthrow of the theocracy in Iran!

Few days later, there is another demo in London in support of the jailed bus drivers in Iran. The VOA reporter once again goes against the norm of most Iranian exile journalists who prefer to receive news while sitting behind their desks, to cover the event. This time the demo does get a few seconds coverage, but none of the interviews with the protesters or the main representatives of the unions. Bizarrely the footage of this demo is also shown in the middle of an interview with some obscure Iranian figure resident in LA, who claims to have a large underground party in Iran, despite the fact that no one has ever heard of it nor does any one know any action ever carried out by this non-existent "party". But most of all what does the London rally in support of the bus drivers in Iran has anything to do with this self proclaimed Iranian opposition figure who obviously suffers with mental problems?

80% of the VOA programs are about non-Iran related news. News about the Philippines, Brazil, Congo... why would I want to watch this sort of thing on VOA Persian, when I can watch them on Euro News. Am I wrong in saying most Iranians want to watch a satellite TV like VOA Persian, to hear about Iran related news?

Now lets look at the other side, Al-Alam TV. An explosion has rocked the Askariya shrine in Samarra, Iraq. Al-Alam TV is quick broadcasting speeches by the Iranian president, blaming the attack on "intelligence agencies of the occupiers of Iraq and the Zionists."

Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the powerful Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri), a movement aligned to Tehran, appears on Al-Alam and blames U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad for the attack. "Certainly he is partly responsible for what happened,".

None of the niceties of VOA Persian - oh we can not show footage when such radical slogans are shouted - boom, Al-Alam does not miss the opportunity, it goes for the jugular as the Islamists in Iran often do and channels all that uncontrolled anger against IRI's enemies.

The Islamists in Iran are winning the media battle on the whole any way. Look at the protests against the Danish cartoons, and how much coverage they got. How the Islamists got so much airtime playing the victim, saying how they felt insulted. Yet the attack on the Sufi shrine in Iran and the way it was flattened and its followers injured and maimed hardly got any coverage in the Western mass media. No one bothered to ask "Were the Sufis not felt insulted?", and no one in the mainstream media bothered to remember that the Islamic Republic has even got a proven track record in attacking its own holy shrine in Mashad for self political gains against opposition groups.

Watching the TVs on the two sides of the conflict, its like watching two boxers in the ring, one is a low IQ dumbo more worried about his nail manicure, and the other one a shrewd mean killing machine. Who would you back to win?


Ruzbeh Hosseini said...

Dorood bar shoma,

My name is Ruzbeh Hosseini and I author a blog entitled Iran Freedom Project ( I would like to exchange links.

Payandeh Iran.

Anonymous said...

I agree with VOA Persian position. A report is assessed before it is decided whether it should be shown. This is to determine how it will be seen by its intended audience. To the analysts the film looked like a group of outdated yobs and they figured out it will probably create more publicity for IRI. As this was not the intention, they decided to suppress it.

Azarmehr said...

This was the impression one passer by got from the demo:

"First, stopped by the Iranian Embassy.

Twenty seven years ago Islamic fundamentalists "took power in Iran". Today there was a small, gentle protest outside the Iranian Embassy. One of the guys I spoke to has a blog."

This is what a British columnist wrote about the demo:


But the VOA and you think we were yobs!

Even so, suppose we were yobs, what about the rally in support of the bus drivers, why such a muted coverage of that demo and why was it shown in the middle of an interview with some LA based person who had nothing to do with the rally, and why so much non-Iran related news.

Azarmehr said...

Dear Roozbeh,

I am sorry to say that your intentions are probably noble, but I see the emblem of MPG on your blog. There is no MPG in Iran. Your leader who suffers from mental problems is a big liar, he has no cells (hasteh :) inside Iran.

His stories about Towhid prison and the heroism he showed there is complete figments of his imagination. In fact he signed a co-operation document which is why he was let out so soon, and later published that cartoon book with the permission of the Guidance Ministry. See the inside cover, where it says on the anniversary of the great Islamic victory.

I have talked to a lot of people who knew him in Iran and Turkey. He was nothing but a joke in Iran, always eager for a photo opportunity. In Turkey when the refugees planned a demo against the Iranian regime, he was so scared he locked himself up in his flat, and instead wrote a letter to the Supreme Leader.

In LA, he continued to trick people out of money including myself. I know so much about this charlatan, I could write a book about him.

I guess that you can not speak Persian and so cant see through the facade he puts up. Don't waste your time with him, you will be put off Iran for ever if you do. I dont want that to happen to you.

Anonymous said...


I am not political myself but I have followed different activities in regards to Iran.

I find it very disturbing how the people turn agains each other.

Just to be fair Marze Por Gohar groups has proven to be one of the most nationalistic and active groups existing.

It is realy sad to see such comments.

Ruzbeh Hosseini said...

What you are saying is really sad. I don't know you and I don't care what your political affiliations are - all I wanted to do was exchange links. You should be working with people and not insulting them. I may not work under Mr. Reza Pahlavi, but I respect the work of those who are trying to free Iran. I am sorry that I bothered you.

Payandeh Iran

Azarmehr said...

Lets just say I know the charlatan who runs your group better than you. If any action ever takes place or has taken place in Iran by MPG! let me know :)

Soon you will see the errors of your judgements too. Just dont follow anyone blindly and be brave enough to ask questions.

By the way if you ever come across a booklet called "Our Nationalism" from MPG, it was all written by me. But then again you probably cant read Persian can you?

Anonymous said...

To anonymous who said:

"Just to be fair Marze Por Gohar groups has proven to be one of the most nationalistic and active groups existing."

One of the common traits of Islamic Republic is cloning groups - shabihsAzi- MPG is one of them. They have no track record in Iran of ANY activity. If there are please enlighten us.

They say a lot of things that attract the people with nationalistic mindset, they then waste them and put them off. Exactly as IRI wants.

When the charlatan who runs MPG first came to US, there was about 5 of us who rallied round him and helped raise his profile and helped him financially. ALL of us very soon realised the errors of our judgment and saw through the charlatan's lies.

Anonymous said...

MPG is not just nationalist. It is a racist organisation, spewing deliberately inflammatory stuff about Muhammad and Arabs and effectively calling for a genocide against Arabs. Avoid them like the plague.

In my mind, a television station run on a shoestring by groups with some popular support deserve attention, even if their production values are low and everything is a bit too quirky. I've just come across Al-Ahwaz TV -

Azarmehr said...

Its not Al-Ahwaz, its Ahwaz. It was, is and will always be part of Iran. You lot are barking up the wrong tree. I feel sorry for you if your national hero is the English lackey, Sheikh Khaz'al :)

Anonymous said...

You Persian nationalists will never accept that Iran is not a Persian country, it is a multi-ethnic country. This is why you have hostility towards Arabs. Why can't I call Al-Ahwaz by its Arab name? If there is separatist elements, it is because Persian nationalists like you will never allow Arabs to have their voice in Iran. That is the shame for Arabs who want to be part of Iran without persecution and with full rights, including the right to regional government within Iran. Most Ahwazi Arabs want to be Iranian, but you won't allow them.

Azarmehr said...

Arabs who want to be part of Iran without persecution and with full rights should be more than welcome in Iran.

I also fully accept Iran is not a Persian country, it is a multi-ethnic country.

What identifies us together is not our dialects, not our skin colour, not our racial looks but that we are all Iranians and share this rich mixed heritage passed to us over the last three milleniums.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, but the current regime does not see it that way. It is not just a theocracy, it is also racist. Why is it that we are seeing more and more unrest in Kurdistan, Balochistan and Khuzestan? Maybe the world media does not cover this, but it is true that minorities are persecuted. The thing I have noticed in Khuzestan is that the Arabs are going around smashing up homes of non-Arabs. It is not communal violence. It is the hatred of oppression that drives them. I don't know who is behind the bomb attacks but you can be sure that the Basijis benefit the most from any terrorism. It is the role of the Iranian opposition to acknowledge ethnic persecution - in addition to the persecution of women, religious minorities and all political opposition - as a feature of this fascist regime. And then to fight together, unified behind an Iran that is free and for everyone. Persia/Iran was always multi-ethnic and tolerant of different peoples as well as being a decentralised state held together by cultural, economic and political associations. The country's strength has always been through its diversity. In fact, the Arabs of Khuzestan or Ahwazi Arabs are unique to Iran with a culture that is distinct from Iraq, Kuwait and other countries, their music, language, song and dance are very different. This should be celebrated as Iranian, not decimated by the mullahs.

Azarmehr said...

what you say is quite true. However have you also ever wondered how the Persian culture is also persecuted? It has been for over 1400 years with a few brief periods of respite and it is persecuted now.

Do we/Can we celebrate the Saddeh under the mullahs? But we are made to celebrate the birthdays of so many Arab Imams. Do we have any national days after our heroes?
Do we have any statues of babak Khorramdin? and when in Isfahan they try to make a statue of Kaveh, the clerics order to destroy it.

What happens when the Persian New Year coincides with the Arab month of Moharram? which gets preference?

Look at the Islamic Republic flag. Does it have any Iranian writing or any Iranian symbols on it?

How many clerics in Iran have Iranian names?

Why not for once instead of repeating like a parrot, "Persian Fascists, Persian Fascists", admit that the Persian/Iranian culture itself was the first victim of the 1979 revolution?

Those who are ruling Iran now who deny the Iranian Arabs to be part of a rich multi-ethnic Iran, are themselves first and foremost under the influence of an imposed Arab culture.

Anonymous said...

May I add that I have no problem with Persian festivals or Zoroastrianism. If someone wants to celebrate these, they should be able to - with fireworks!

Azarmehr said...

Oh thank you very much! Thanks for being a minority and not having a problem with a festival enjoyed by the majority of teh Iranian people!