Khabarnegaran.info-Niki Azad: Local journalist Mahdieh Amiri speaks of the hardships of practicing journalism in the southern Iranian province of Bushehr. Amiri has been working as a journalist in Bushehr for years. Since 2007, she has been the editor-in-chief of a few local websites, biweekly and quarterly magazines. She is now the editor-in-chief of hamooniran.com website and Ava-ye Dashtestan biweekly.
Review of Presidential Candidates’ Website / Mohammad Bagher Ghalib
Ghalibaf Portrayed as Pragmatic, Populist with Low-Cost Campaigning11 June 2013
Translated by:Mehrdad Safa
Khabarnegaran.info – The eleventh presidential election will be held on June 21. Hundreds registered for candidacy in May, but only eight of them were approved by the Guardian Council, including Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, former deputy president Mohammad Reza Aref, former head of parliament Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel, former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati, former telecommunication minister Mohammad Gharazi, and former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezaee.
Among the main disqualified candidates were former two-time president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, a senior advisor and close aide to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. So far, two candidates have quitted the presidential race. Principalist candidate Haddad Adel, who was expected to have little chance of victory, quitted yesterday. Reformist Aref also withdrew after receiving a letter from former Preisdent Mohammad Khatami, advising him to do that.
Every week leading up to the election, Khabarnegaran.info introduces the presidential candidates in the eyes of their online election campaigning. Ghalibaf’s online campaigning is discussed in this article.
Principalist presidential candidate Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, born in 1961, is the Mayor of Tehran. He has been former IRGC Air Force Commander, former Police Commander, and former head of Anti-Contraband and Currency Smuggling Headquarters. Having lost the 2005 presidential race, Ghalibaf is running for the 11th election once again.
Iranian presidential candidates have led much of their campaign to cyberspace. With more than 53 online campaigns, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf outdistances other candidates.
Few are unable to remember the demagogic, extravagant advertising campaigns of Ghalibaf for the 2005 presidential election, including extra-large banners and high-quality advertising photos. His extravagance at the advertising campaigns had been censured by many state officials. Large posters of Ghalibaf in pilot cloths were hung in the main squares of big cities, struggling to win against humble posters of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose simplistic way of life was advertised.
However, this time Ghalibaf has diverted the focus of his campaigning to online websites. Yet, his rival candidates censure him for his extravagance at the online campaigning.
“The Mayor of Tehran, whose massive campaigns in 2005 has not been forgotten yet, is running for presidency with more than 40 online campaigns and news websites,” wrote Raja News, a news website closely affiliated with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“Ghalibaf has recently announced that his advertising cost in the 2005 election had been around $3.4 million. He, of course, has admitted his mistake in choosing the method of advertising and that he is not going to repeat this experience again. However, it seems that he has just changed the form of advertising, preferring to run numerous online campaigns and news websites,” Raja News added.
The websites affiliated with Mohammad Baghar Ghalibaf, all embellished by his photos, more than anything underline his pragmatism and portray him as ‘a man of practice’ and not a man of words. They support this claim by listing his activities as Tehran Mayor – activities that he must have done as a mayor, but are advertised like that only he could do.
Also, almost all these websites lay emphasis on the low costs of Ghalibaf’s campaigning, probably in a response to accusations of his financial corruption and extravagance at the election campaigns. Ghalibaf is portrayed as a populist figure. They claim that myriads of election campaigns have been set up by people themselves in 31 centers of provinces, 400 cities and 45,000 villages to support Ghalibaf in the upcoming election, without even little financial support from Ghalibaf himself.
Khabarnegaran.info-Niki Azad: How is life for Iranian journalists after prison? Does their attitude toward their journalism – the profession that put them in jail – change? Are they more conservative than before? Or bolder?
Khabarnegaran – Niki Azad: He has been put in jail three times for his journalist writing, though he says that jail has not made him feel disappointed with the profession of journalism.