17 آبان 1393

Hate-inciting media plot against journalists and activists

8 November 2014

Translated by:Mehrdad Safa

Khabarnegaran.info –Niki Azad: Under totalitarian governments, there are a number of newspapers and news sites – and in a broader sense, media – that serve the interests of the dominant power and ideology and have no regard for professional credos or even human rights. Are they properly called media? Or would it be better to just identify them as state-run organizations that mask themselves as media?

These kinds of media are supposed to persuade public opinion by any possible means and are usually headed by those associated with the ruling class. Their primary goal is to incite hatred and grudge. Today, human rights advocacy organizations has identified such media as “hate-inciter” and “death-bringer”.

Nowadays, many cyber media and news sites have mushroomed with the advent of technology in the Islamic Republic of Iran. For semi-official news sites affiliated with the government, one of the primary goals is to fabricate charges for journalists and civil activists and run baseless stories that would pave the way for judicial and security organizations to arrest or sentence them.

Plotters and producers working at these so-called media act as the executive arm of security organizations and run special features at their request. The most vivid example is probably 20:30 Show, which is broadcast on IRIB’s Channel 2.

However, it is not the 20:30 News Show alone; News agencies like Fars News and Tasnim news that are affiliated to IRGC follow the same policy. Kayhan daily, known for hate-inciting for long, as well as newly-emerged Vatan Emrouz and Javan dailies, are affiliated to security or military organizations.

Hate-inciting against individuals

The 20:30 is a 30-minute-long news show that run through weekdays at 20:30. The show producer is IRIB News, which is supervised by the IRIB’s Political Department. The show’s stance is mostly biased toward the current affairs, and many of its features are reportedly produced and broadcast by the direct order of security organizations, particularly the Ministry of Information. Many of civil society activists and journalists, including those working at Persian-language media abroad such as BBC Persian and Radio Farda, have been repeatedly trumped up with false charges in a series of features run in 20:30 News Show.

The show has often received a torrent of criticisms from many groups and individuals. At the height of such events, supporters of the Green Movement chanted against the show during the Quds Day demonstration in September 2009.

During the recent years, especially after the post-election protests in 2009, a number of state-affiliated, hate-inciting news websites has actively started to post Facebook photos of detained journalists and fabricate charges for them. Saba Azar Peyk, a journalist recently freed from jail after three months of detention, is the last of the victims of trumped-up charges fabricated by these media.

Hate-inciting against groups and movements

In a more recent event, 20:30 News Show has started to defame Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad’s reputation in reaction to her Facebook group Furtive Freedoms and the group’s latest move that encourages public to protest against mandatory hijab.

The show has been carefully coordinated, starting with slanders on and defamation of Alinejad and finally leading to running features on propagation of Islamic hijab. The so-called features are typically biased and do not conform to basic journalism principles.

Also recently, when a number of feminist activists and journalists decided to picket outside a stadium in protest to the ban on women attending men sports events, the hate-inciter media put all their strength to trumping up charges for protestors. They provoked security and judicial organizations to act against them. Mashregh News and Mersad also joined the coordinated defamation of civil activists, feminists and journalists.

A short list of hate-inciting websites

Fars News, published in Persian, Arabic, English and Turkish, is mainly funded by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. For years, Fars News’ affiliation with the IRGC used to be considered confidential, but Tabnak news website (affiliated with former IRGC general commander Mohsen Rezaee) confirmed it in a feature story. Hamidreza Moghaddam-far, IRGC’s deputy head for cultural affairs directed the news agency for a long time. During his term of office, at the peak of the 2009 post-election protests, Fars news agency ran the largest number of hate-inciting news and stories.

Boultan News is allegedly affiliated with the Ministry of Information. Tasnim news agency is another IRGC-affiliated news agency that involves in fabrication of charges and incitation of hatred.

Mashregh news is one of many news websites affiliated to security organizations that give no information about its background and founders. It runs a column titled The Soft War, which includes a number of feature stories that stir up hatred. Mersad News also says in its about page that “soon, you will see some information here.”

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