Propaganda in Iran
||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (January 2013)|
Garth Jowett and Victoria O'Donnell have provided a concise, workable definition of propaganda: "Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist."1 Propaganda can be disseminated through any medium, television, film, newspaper, posters, murals, political actions, rallies, violence, and websites. Propaganda in The Islamic Republic of Iran is also about the information that is not broadcast to the masses due to censorship.
Information is seen as a weapon within The Islamic Republic of Iran. Like any other weapon, the use of this information can be used for constructive or destructive purposes. Within Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei knows and understands this concept as those who try to speak truth to power, or use information in a way that is critical of the Iranian government, are in most cases, silenced.2 The Iranian government uses information as a means to control the population of Iran through various methods and mediums. Jailing journalists, physically removing satellite dishes from the roof's of its citizens, and producing and the messages and programming its citizens consume occurs on a daily basis within Iran.citation needed
- 1 Censorship in Iran
- 2 Methods
- 3 Media
- 4 Iranian Propaganda Abroad
- 5 Nuclear Propaganda
- 6 See also
- 7 External links
- 8 References
One of the biggest issues Iran is criticized for is censorship. Aided by Western technology from Nokia and Siemens, the Iranian government has created one of the most sophisticated censorship platforms created in modern times.3 Not only is this practice unethical but it violates Iranian citizen's Freedom of Speech which is a Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights matters because the declaration was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, of which The Islamic Republic of Iran is a member.4
The use of World events which Iran can then compare itself too in order to look better.
Iran used the Riots in Britain to denounce the British for Human Rights violoations and offered to send an investigative team to find out what happened. The riots in Britain occurred after the Iranian Green Movement was brutally oppressed in 2009, which tried to erase the memory of Death of Neda Agha-Soltan.5
The flags of nations are considered propaganda. Not only is the flag itself a representation of propaganda, but the flags of other nations, such as the United States and Israel, are used in Iranian Propaganda. Burning of the U.S. flag and Israeli Flag seem to occur at rallies against each. Flag burning is a propaganda tool, such as burning Effigies of world leaders.
Through violent crackdowns on protests and the kidnapping of Iranian citizens, both at home and abroad, the Iranian government hopes to shape the political will of its citizens. With artists, film-makers, musicians, political activists, former politicians, and minority persecution, the UN human rights body has expressed its concern over Human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.67 It is the hope of
On October 8, 2006, cleric Seyyed Hossein Kazemeini Boroujerdi was arrested for opposing Velaayat-e Faghih, advocating the separation of religion from state, and defending the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.8 By censoring, and jailing all dissidents, the Iranian government promotes what it feels to be the correct ideology over the people. It then propagandizes the arrests, calling political prisoners enemies of the state, which strikes fear into the population of Iran. This creates a situation where the population can live in fear, or lash out, like it did after the 2009 Iranian Presidential election.
Political messages are printed, painted, and distributed in all forms in Iran. Not running up to elections, but in murals or large posters, this type of propaganda can have the Big Brother effect.
Iranian Justice System has also been known to espouse propaganda. This is especially true in the prison system of Iran where Political prisoners were "incessantly bombarded with propaganda from all sides ... radio and closed-circuit television ... loudspeakers blaring into all cells even into solitary cells and `the coffins` [where some prisoners were kept] ... ideological sessions." Any reading material of a secular nature such as Western novelists, or even religious material that didn't agree ideologically with the Islamic Republic such as work by Ali Shariati was banned.910
The Basij are the local and grassroot supporters of the Iranian government. "The mission of the Basij as a whole can be broadly defined as helping to maintain law and order; enforcing ideological and Islamic values and combating the "Western cultural onslaught"; assisting the IRGC in defending the country against foreign threats; and involvement in state-run economic projects."11 The Basij are groomed from a young age to love and respect the government, often being rewarded for their loyalty. They act as the secret police of the Soviet Union, the KGB did, and now the FSB does. Within the police state of Iran, the Basij create intelligence networks of citizens to spy on one another, monitor online conversations, cell phone conversations, and frequently target intellectuals, journalists, opposition leaders and political organizers.12 The Basij are similar to the way Hitler Youth were cultivated, and ultimately entered into the ranks of the NAZI's, except that the Basij also have their own organization for multiple age groups and its participants can hold other jobs, being called upon by the secret police forces when it deems necessary.
With the IRGC's help and support, Basij members are trained in propaganda and political warfare techniques using media outlets. There are about 21,000 volunteer "reporters" that have trained with the IRGC on multiple waves of communication and media, which include social networks, television, radio, print media, and the internet.1314
According to Reporters Without Borders, "In Iran, the Revolutionary Guards recently announced their ambition to build their own spinternet by launching 10,000 blogs for the Basij, a paramilitary force under the Guards. This comes at a time when the Internet has become a major force in exposing corruption in the highest ranks of the Iranian leadership."15 As well, cyber-police "are here to create a cyber police force inside the people’s mind,” said Hesamedin Mojtahed, the officer in charge of the booth. “People want to be informed of the dangers on the Internet,” he said. “We are here for them.”16
The SAVAK was the National Intelligence and Security Organization of Iran from 1961 until 1979. They were the official secret police, domestic security and intelligence service established by Iran's Mohammad Reza Shah.17 After Khomeini took over, SAVAK was dissolved and replaced with SAVAMA18
SAVAK had its own censorship office, "established to monitor journalists, literary figures, and academics throughout the country; it took appropriate measures against those who fell out of line. Universities, labor unions, and peasant organizations, among others, were all subjected to intense surveillance by SAVAK agents and paid informants. The agency was also active abroad, especially in monitoring Iranian students who publicly opposed Pahlavi rule."19
SAVAMA is the original name for the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security of the Islamic Republic of Iran (MISIRI). While it goes by other names, it operates in the same manner. It closely monitors and puts surveillance on those it deems a threat to the Iranian government, both at home and abroad.citation needed
The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, a special unit within the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran has practiced for Psychological Operations against military targets.20 According to Ayatollah Khamenei, "the main priority of the country is to confront (enemy's) soft warfare which is aimed at creating doubt, discord and pessimism among the masses of the people," Ayatollah Khamenei said last year, addressing a large and fervent congregation of Basij (volunteer) forces."21
Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting is the sole, official provider, of broadcast news to both the Iranian people and the rest of the world. IRIB operates many channels in a multitude of languages and is known to broadcast propaganda.2223 IRIB is the main hub for which all Iranian propaganda is created, and disseminated, throughout the world. The multiple channels that make up IRIB all have a specific purpose.
The Islamic Republic of Iran held an anti-terrorism conference which featured representatives from "neighboring countries Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan as well as Sudan, Tajikistan, Mauritania and the Vice-President of Cuba and Ministers and other high-level delegates from 60 States, representatives of the United Nations (Officer in Charge of CTITF), the OIC, and other regional organizations as well as distinguished scholars and researchers and peace activists from all around the world participated in the Conference."27 With Iran being a state-sponsor of terrorist activities, and many of the nations in attendance, including many of the African representatives, users of terrorism, the anti-terrorism conference is propaganda.282930 It was quite successful as well because the United Nations endorsed the meeting and sent a delegation to partake in the event.30 During the event, "Iran's Supreme leader Ali Khamenei took the opportunity to excoriate western nations for "terrorist behaviors," and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expressed his doubts about the September 2001 terrorist attacks on America – outrageously claiming that the U.S has benefited from those attacks, as it has, he added, from the Holocaust."31
There are numerous State Sponsored websites which are considered the official mouthpieces of the Islamic Republic of Iran's government. These are examples of political propaganda, which either put a pro-Shah, pro-Government, pro-Iranian, spin on neutral material. The following websites also place spin or omit/censor any negative reporting on the Iranian government, and promote the Iranian leadership's point of view on specific issues.
Iran has created a Cyber Police unit in January 2011, known by the acronym FATA. Since then it has arrested several bloggers critical of Iran’s leaders, as well as a group of youths who had created a “hot or not” contest on Facebook rating profile pictures of boys and girls32 The unit was created to "control which sites Iranians are able to visit, to prevent spying and protect the public from `immoral` material. The United States, they charge, is waging a `soft war` against Iran by reaching out to Iranians online and inciting them to overthrow their leaders33". From the Iranian regime's standpoint, any free information is a threat to power. The internet was a major factor for organizing and showing the world what was happening during the 2009 presidential election. The United States asked Twitter to postpone online maintenance in 2009 so that it would be available for Iranian protesters.34 On 1 December 2012, General Saeed Shokrian, commander of FATA, was dismissed by Iranian’s national police chief, Ismael Ahmadi-Moqaddam, for negligence in death of blogger Sattar Beheshti while in FATA custody one month earlier. The dismissal followed international outcry over the death. Shokrian stated “Tehran’s FATA should be held responsible for the death of Sattar Beheshti”.35 The cyber police fall under the IRGC and the Basij.
The Voice of America's Persian Service has come under scrutiny for following a pro-Tehran line. The controversy started with the Death of Neda Agha-Soltan (which has its own propaganda implications). VOA and their parent organization, Broadcasting Board of Governors, were very slow in reporting the events of the 2009 Iranian elections and subsequent student protests.36 With upwards of 80% of the Iranian population getting its information from official government news agencies like IRNA, the VOA is supposed to report non-censored material or propaganda from the Iranian regime.37 In Congressional testimony, it was shown that the VOA Persian network was broadcasting anti-American messages regularly and was being abused by the Persian networks staff to include: -Boycotting and even slandering people [VOA Staff] do not agree with, -Inadequate or late coverage of protests in Iran and complete lack of support for the freedom fighters (referring to the Death of Neda Agha-Soltan), - Not supporting and criticizing the US Policy, - and the list continues.38
The Iran lobby in the United States is concerned with defending the Iranian government's image in the United States. By its nature, lobbying can be considered propaganda. As Lopez has written, "A complex network of individuals and organizations with ties to the clerical government in Tehran is pressing forward in seeming synchrony to influence the new U.S. administration’s policy towards the Islamic Republic of Iran. Spearheaded by a de facto partnership between the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and other organizations serving as mouthpieces for the mullahs’ party line, the network includes well-known American diplomats, congressional representatives, figures from academia and the think tank world."39
The Alavi Foundation is the successor organization to the Pahlavi Foundation, a nonprofit group used by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to advance Iran's charitable interests in America. Most of the charities income is from rent collected on the New York Fifth Avenue skyscraper the Piaget Building, which was built in 1978 under the Shah, who was overthrown in 1979.
The FBI laid out a case against the Alavi Foundation that it was being used as a front group for the Iranian government. It was built in the 1970s by the Pahlavi Foundation to further the interest of then Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.40 Some of the tenants of the foundation's properties are Islamic centers and schools.41
The Iranian Nuclear Program utilizes propaganda through disinformation. Due to the multiple nations and foreign governing bodies that have Sanctions against Iran, Iran has had no choice but to pursue its perceived nuclear weapons program covertly. Iran has claimed that the nuclear program is peaceful,43 however, the most recent IAEA report44 highlights research that may bring the world to a different conclusion.
Based on an Associated Press article, the re-defection of Shahram Amiri to Iran was to be used as a great propaganda campaign against the United States and the West.45 The Iranian government spun the news of Amiri's defection to the United States and subsequent re-defection back to Iran as a kidnapping plot. The reason's for his re-defection range in Iranian media, but most claim that he was kidnapped and/or tortured, and "escaped" back to Iran. This type of publicity is viewed in the West as a cover up, but the way it is portrayed from the Iranian standpoint, shows that a devout Iranian, who would never betray the government, escaped the "Great Satan" to return to Iran.
On 13 November 2011, it was reported that a major blast at a military base killed Brig. Gen. Hassan Moghaddam, along with 16 other IRGC members.46 "Under General Moghaddam, Iran’s missile program has tested several longer-range designs, including the Shahab-3 missile. According to intelligence estimates, the Shahab-3 is able to reach to 1,250 miles — far enough to hit Israel, Iran’s archenemy, and the Iranian government has emphasized that that is precisely the reason for its development."46 Iran officially claims that the explosion was an accident that occurred while moving ammunition to a more appropriate site.47 Speculation is that the Israeli's blew up the base but Iran has stuck to its formal explanation. Following the explosion, "...because of concerns about Israel spies — [Iran] increased the prison term for Iranian citizens who travel to Israel from three months to five years".47 Upon further satellite evidence released on 30 November 2011, the destruction of the military base was much greater than the Iranian government led on.48 When it comes to military matters and capabilities, this propaganda response is to be expected.
- Garth Jowett and Victoria O'Donnell, Propaganda and Persuasion, 4th ed. Sage Publications, p. 7
- "Iranian regime 'fears information'". BBC News. 10 April 2011.
- Rhoads, Christopher (22 June 2009). "Iran's Web SPying Aided By Western Technology: European Gear Used in Vast Effort to Monitor Communications". The Wallstreet Journal. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
- Holland, Lisa. "Iranians Use London Riots as Propaganda". Sky News. Retrieved 2011-11-11.
- "Iran: UN human rights body concerned over executions and minority rights" (Webpage). United Nations Human Rights. 3 November 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-11. "The UN Human Rights Committee said it was disturbed by the continuing discrimination and arrest of religious and ethnic minorities and homosexuals, as well as by the frequency of capital punishment imposed on juveniles, expressing alarm at the vague definition and the wide range of offences for which it is used."
- Abrahamian, Ervand (16). Tortured confessions : prisons and public recantations in modern Iran ([Nachdr.] ed.). Berkeley, Calif. [u.a.]: Univ. of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21866-3.
- TIME Staff (23 July 2009). "On Tehran's Streets, the Basij's Fearsome Reign". TIME. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
- Morozov, Evgeny (30 March 2009). "Propaganda.com". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
- Erdbrink, Thomas (29 October 2011). "Iran Cyber Police Cite U.S. Threat". Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
- FARS News Agency (20 November 2010). "Iran Uses Psychological Operations in Massive Air Drills" (Website). Retrieved 2011-11-17.
- Moaveni, Azadeh (22 June 2009). "State Television Becomes a Focus for Iranian Anger". Time.
- Taheri, Amir (June 8, 2010). "Propaganda War Latest: Tehran 3 Israel 0". The Times (London) (Newspaper).
- "Iran's Propaganda Purveyors". CBS News.
- BBC (25 September 2007). "Iran president in NY campus row" (Web Page). BBC. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
- Bonifield, Alexandra (October 1, 2007). "Ahmadinejad visit, speech part of propaganda machine". USA Today.
- Voice of America. "Iranian Government Holds Terrorism Conference". Voice of America. Retrieved 12/1/2011.
- Jailed Blogger Not Tortured Before Death, Iran Says| By THOMAS ERDBRINK |November 12, 2012
- Wan, William (29 October 2011). "Iran cyber police cite U.S. threat". The Washington Post.
- Erdbrink, Thomas (October 29, 2011). "Iran cyber police cite U.S. threat". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
- Head of Tehran’s Cybercrimes Unit Is Fired Over Death of Blogger| By THOMAS ERDBRINK| nytimes.com| 1 December 2012
- http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/112/65628.pdf - p. 3
- http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/112/65628.pdf - p.25
- http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/112/65628.pdf - pp. 35-37
- Farrell, Michael. "What's known about Iran-linked Alavi Foundation?". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 12/1/2011.
- Glovin, David (30 December 2009). "Alavi Foundation Is Iran Front, U.S. Says in Lawsuit (Correct)". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 12/1/2011.
- Izikovich, Gili. "Israeli MK: Iran TV's Palestinian correspondent is a foreign agent". Ha'aretz.
- "As propaganda battle rages, Iranian scientist returns home". The Boston Globe.
- "Blast Kills Commander at Iran Base". The New York Times. 13 November 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
- Bennett, Dashiell. "Did Israel Blow Up an Iranian Missile Base?". The Atlantic Wire. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
- Broad, William J. (29 November 2011). "Images Show Devastation at Iran Base After Blast". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-30.