Culture Minister Will Not Back Down
Iran’s minister of Islamic Culture Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi voiced renewed warnings against the BBC Farsi-language television network following a cabinet meeting.
Announcing, “BBC Farsi television network’s activity in Tehran is illegal and those who cooperate with this network inside the country will face repercussions,” Saffar Harandi added, “Various sources have announced that the network’s activity in Tehran is illegal.”
This is not a new subject and BBC’s activities in Tehran had been brought up by Iranian officials earlier. Now, the ministry of culture has issued a statement asking Iranian journalists and reporters to refrain from cooperating with the network.
The Islamic Republic’s confrontation with BBC Farsi takes place despite the fact that BBC’s English service has an office in Tehran and so is legally present and available without any problems. In this connection, responding to the question that, “What differences exist between BBC Farsi and BBC English, and why can BBC English operate in Tehran, but BBC Farsi cannot?” Saffar Harandi noted, “The two are different from one another. A network broadcasted in our national language focuses on Iran’s issues and so is different from BBC English. BBC Farsi is engaged in peculiar operations and we cannot be simpletons about it.”
Also responding to the comment, “It is said that BBC Farsi will prepare programs through BBC English network’s office in Tehran,” Harandi noted, “If English BBC abuses the opportunity that it is given by law and prepare programs for BBC Farsi, it is obvious that it would be confronted according to law.”
Saffar Harandi also noted that “The country’s intelligence community and ministry of culture have repeatedly explained issues regarding cooperation with such networks and warned individuals about them,” adding, “The aim behind this Farsi network is not well-intentioned and those who love their country must distance themselves from this dangerous current.”
In his other comments, the minister of culture and Islamic guidance warned about activities of domestic actors in Hollywood, noting, “Obviously those who act outside appropriate frameworks and in an illegal manner would face problems.”
Although Saffar Harandi did not specify the nature of such “problems” an instance of the ministry’s problem-making took place some time ago for Mitra Hajjar, an Iranian actress who had left Iran in 2006 for about four months to participate in various film projects.
She signed three agreements for television series immediately upon her return to Iran. However, a few days following the official announcement of her involvement in the projects officials at the Islamic Republic Broadcasting Corporation announced to producers of these projects that Hajjar is not authorized to appear in television series because of her involvement in an American movie and television series without proper Islamic covering.