LATEST: Publishers Ask President-Elect Rouhani to Remove Obstacles

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A striking change in emphasis on State outlet Press TV on Tuesday, as it turned its top stories over to Lebanese organisation Hezbollah….

Iranian State media has been careful in its recent coverage of Hezbollah, fostered by Tehran in the 1980s and supported by the Islamic Republic since then. While giving space to the statements of the organization’s leader Hassan Nasrallah, it has played down any mention of Hezbollah’s growing role in the Syrian conflict.

However, the European Union’s decision on Monday to label the “military wing” of Hezbollah a terrorist organization pushed Press TV into a wave of headlines, feeding off statements by Iranian MPs and officials — four of the top six “Iran” stories: “EU Will ‘Regret’ Hezbollah Blacklisting“, “Hezbollah Blacklist, EU ‘Biggest Blunder’“, “Iran MPs Slam EU Decision on Hezbollah“, and “Hezbollah Blacklisted over West Failures“.

Now the question: is this just a one-day surge of publicity or do the headlines point to a more aggressive Iranian line not only on Hezbollah but also Syria?

Latest Updates, From Top to Bottom

Publishers Ask President-Elect Rouhani to Remove Obstacles

A group of 30 publishers has asked President-elect Hassan Rouhani to remove obstacles to publishing and government support to favored recipients that has caused “nepotism”.

The publishers do not mention censorship explicitly, but cite obstacles like bans on distribution.

Head of Judiciary: Those in 2009 “Sedition” Will Never Have Role in Politics

The head of judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, has said that participants in the protests after the disputed 2009 Presidential election will never have a role in politics:

All individuals and political groups in the sedition and currents related to the Reformist era who sought secularism as a replacement for Quranic and Islamic teachings must note that that era has ended and that they can no longer emerge, because the Iranian nation does not accept the thought of this group.

His Excellency Imam [Khomeini] founded the Islamic revolution on a Quranic interpretation and based it on divine tradition, and he believed in Islam’s [place] in all aspects of life, and this divine policy and language has continuously been the criteria and the Islamic system’s movement and endurance.

All those who believe in secular thought and seek to replace Western democracy for Quranic understanding must know that His Excellency Imam is the revolution’s benchmark, and his speeches and statements are sufficiently acceptable and will not lead individuals and groups anywhere [wrongly], and the country’s political situation is not conducive for their managerial activities.

Esmail Kowsari, a member of Parliament’s National Security Commission, went farther, “I emphasize that activist individuals and participants in the [2009] sedition must not be invited to the inauguration ceremony” for President Hassan Rouhani on 4 August.

(Hat tip to Iran Tracker)

Hassan Rouhani In 140 Characters (Iran Primer)

Garret Nada of Iran Primer has written an interesting article examining President-elect Hassan Rouhani’s use of Twitter.

Nada writes:

Hassan Rouhani is big into Twitter. (Or at least someone in his office is.) Since his election, Iran’s new president has tweeted prolifically —in both English and Farsi – on everything from World Cup soccer to women’s rights, from nuclear negotiations to Internet censorship.

His English language account is @HassanRouhani. It now offers one of the most telling (not to mention concise) windows into his thinking—and how the Scottish-educated cleric wants the world to perceive him. Although Twitter is periodically banned in Iran, Rouhani also has a feed in Farsi @rouhani92 for an Iranian audience, according to an administrator who responded to inquiries through the president’s official Facebook page.

Read the rest of the story here.

Rafsanjani: We Must Not Let The Hope Of The Election Turn Into Disappointment

Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani said on Wednesday that “God realized in the hearts of the people, a sense of consciousness and responsibility, and under the worst conditions they came out [to vote], and we must use this situation and not let the hope of the election turn into disappointment.”

Speaking to a meeting of the Expediency Council, of which he is chairman, Rafsanjani slammed what he said were “biased political grudges that the enemies of the Islamic Revolution have towards Iran”, adding that: “There were no expectations that after the elections the new conditions would make them [Iran’s enemies] behave differently or in a diplomatic manner”.

Ahmadinejad Tells Reporters: All Publicity Is Good Publicity

Outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday praised reporters for their coverage of the past eight years of his Presidency.

Ahmadinejad told reporters: We [the Tenth Government] like everybody; everyone who writes in agreement [with my policies], as well as everyone who writes against them; we all work towards higher goals.”

The outgoing President then injected some of his well-known humor, adding that: “I want to add a little humor right now, one day a friend of mine told me, it is not important whether they write in favor about you, or write against you, what is important is that they are writing about you, and in this regard, I’d like to thank all my media friends in attendance today.”

ISNA posted a set of photographs of the event.

Khamenei: Jihad Should Be Expressed In Poems

The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, advised poets on Tuesday night that they should write about “Jihad to build a Islamic society, to reform the living style and strengthening national power.”

Khamenei gave his advice during a meeting with Persian-speaking poets from Iran, India, Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

Khamenei is not the first leader to advise artists. Joseph Stalin, in his famous advice to creative intellectuals, suggested that poets and artists: create such literary hero fighters of communism with whom Soviet people would equate and whom they would imitate.

Unlike Khamenei, however, Stalin wrote poetry himself, including about the flora of Georgia, such as violets.

The Supreme Leader’s office tweeted this photograph of Khamenei meeting a young Persian-speaking poet:

Imprisoned Journalist “Held In Solitary Confinement Without Charges”

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said this week that journalist Fariba Pajouh is being held in solitary confinement without charges, and is being interrogated.

Pajouh was arrested on July 10.

“Fariba remains in solitary confinement and her interrogations continue. She told us during a telephone call yesterday [July 20] that she is well and that she will be released soon and for us not to worry about her. But she said the same things to us 10 days ago when she was first arrested. Is it possible for someone to be in solitary confinement inside Evin Prison and be ‘well’? Certainly she says these things so we won’t worry,” the source, a member of Pajouh’s family, told ICHRI.

Khatami: Free Opposition Leaders Mousavi, Karroubi, and Rahnavard

In a sign of a key test of President-elect Hassan Rouhani — at least a test for Iran’s reformists — former President Mohammad Khatami has used a Ramadan speech to call for the lifting of the 29-month house arrests of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Zahra Rahnavard:

During the holy nights of Ramadan, we take refuge in the Lord praying for an even higher level of openness moving forward. We look forward in particular to the lifting of the house arrest of our honorable companions Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Zahra Rahnavard and the release of the political prisoners.

In the event of such a glorious occurrence, many of the disagreements of the past will either be resolved or will decrease, leading to a greater level of unity, allowing us to look to the future. Though it goes without saying that one can never forget the past, it would be a tragedy to relive the past. We must look to the future, to Iran’s future, to a prosperous future, to the security and further development of our nation; a journey that will not be possible unless we all stand together.