Revisiting a BBC report on Israeli ‘accusation’ concerning Iran

Back in June the BBC News website reported that Israel had ‘blamed’ Iran for supporting the ‘Great Return March’ violent rioting along the Gaza Strip-Israel border which was then in its third month.

“Israel has accused Iran of fuelling recent violence on the Gaza border that has seen more than 100 Palestinians killed amid protests against Israel. […]

In the leaflets dropped on Gaza Israel’s military repeated its warning to Palestinians to not go near the heavily-fortified border fence.

“For your own benefit, it is better that you not participate in the violent riots at the fence, not attempt to breach it, and not permit Hamas to turn you into a tool to advance its narrow agenda,” the message said.

“Behind this agenda is Shia Iran, which has made it its mission to inflame tensions in the region for the sake of its religious and sectarian interests.”

Iran is a major supporter of Hamas, which it backs financially and militarily. The two sides fell out after Hamas refused to support Iran’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in the civil war in Syria, but they have since reconciled.”

As was noted here at the time BBC audiences were not provided with any substantial background concerning Iran’s backing of terror groups in the Gaza Strip in order to enhance their understanding of the Israeli statement.

“As noted here in the past, the BBC has been remarkably coy about providing its funding public with information on Iran’s terror financing activities and audiences have seen little if any serious coverage of the topic of Iran’s renewed support for Hamas and its incentive payments to Palestinian terrorists. It is therefore hardly surprising that it has elected to portray Iran’s links to the ‘Great Return March’ agitprop as Israeli ‘allegations’.”

A conference was held in Tehran in late November.

“On November 24, the 32nd Islamic Unity Conference was held in Tehran with representatives of about 100 countries in attendance. The Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, declared during the conference’s opening speech that Israel is a “cancerous tumor” that was established in the region following World War II to serve the interests of the West. He asserted that even if Israel’s existence is removed, Muslims must preserve their unity. […]

The Head of Hamas’ Political Bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, thanked Iran in a speech, broadcast via videoconference from the Gaza Strip, for standing by the Palestinians on the matter of Palestine and Jerusalem. He declared that Israel is the common enemy of the Muslim nation, and called to continue the struggle against it. He added that Gaza’s military and political victory over Israel would have great consequences for the Palestinians’ triumph in the conflict. Haniyeh stressed that Hamas will cooperate with any actor that helps it achieve the movement’s goals.”

In contrast to many other media outlets the BBC did not report on those offensive remarks from the Iranian president whom it has repeatedly promoted as a ‘moderate’, or on the widespread condemnation they received.

The ITIC also noted that:

“Hossein Sheikholeslam, an Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Secretary General of the Islamic Unity Conference held in Tehran, confirmed to the Hamas media outlet al-Risala (November 27) that the Conference decided to adopt the families of those killed in the fence protests. He added that this decision has been forwarded to the relevant authorities for implementation, which will occur shortly.”

The Times of Israel reported Hamas’ reaction to that statement.

“The Gaza-ruling Hamas on Tuesday thanked Iran for its financial “adoption” of the families of Palestinians killed and wounded during clashes it has been encouraging along the border with Israeli troops.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said his group “values” and “highly appreciates” Iran’s support, the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya broadcaster reported.

Barhoum’s statement comes after an adviser to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the Hamas-linked Al-Risalah that the decision to “adopt” the families was taken during the Islamic Unity Conference being held in Tehran.”

In addition the ITIC reported that:

“The organizers of the protests along the Gaza fence confirmed that Iran is financing the medical care of those injured in the protests and the compensation for the families of those killed there. Hussein Mansour, a member of the organizing committee of the protests, stated that is an important act by Iran as part of the support for the Palestinian people and the resistance. He called on the Arab world to act in the same vein and support the Palestinian people.”

Unsurprisingly, the BBC’s obligation to provide “accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming of the highest editorial standards so that all audiences can engage fully with issues” has not ensured that its funding public has received this highly relevant background to the events it has been describing as “protests” for over eight months.

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Filling in the blanks in BBC reports on Hamas, Qatar and Iran

As readers may recall, while early BBC News website coverage of the rift between Qatar and several other Arab states did clarify that one of Saudi Arabia’s demands was for Qatar to cut ties with Hamas, it did not inform BBC audiences of Qatar’s reported demand that a number of Hamas officials leave that country.

Yolande Knell later produced two reports on the topic of Qatari funding of Hamas which made vague, brief references to that subject.

“Meanwhile, some top Hamas figures living in exile in Doha have moved away to ease pressure on their patron.” BBC Radio 4, 15/6/17

“Many leaders of the group [Hamas] – including its former head, Khaled Meshaal, have been living in luxurious exile in Doha.

Now as Hamas seeks to ease pressure on its patron, several have reportedly left at Qatar’s request.” BBC News website, 20/6/17

As was noted here when the story broke:

Among those reportedly asked to leave [Qatar] was Saleh al Arouri – the organiser of Hamas operations in Judea & Samaria who was previously based in Turkey and was designated by the US Treasury in 2015. Arouri is said to have relocated to Malaysia or Lebanon.”

At the beginning of this month al Arouri made an appearance in Beirut.

“A senior Hamas terrorist believed by Israel to have planned the 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank was spotted publicly in Lebanon’s capital Beirut for the first time since he was expelled from Qatar in June.

In photos published Wednesday, Saleh al-Arouri can be seen meeting with senior Iranian official Hossein Amir Abdollahian — a former deputy foreign minister — and a number of other members of Hamas, among them senior spokesman Osama Hamdan and the terror group’s representative in Lebanon, Ali Barka. […]

After his expulsion from Qatar in June, al-Arouri moved to Lebanon, where he is being hosted by the Hezbollah terror group in its Dahieh stronghold in southern Beirut, Channel 2 reported last month.

Citing Palestinian sources, the report said that Arouri and two other senior Hamas figures have relocated to the Hezbollah-dominated neighborhood in the Lebanese capital, an area heavily protected with checkpoints on every access road.”

Meanwhile, on August 5th the BBC News website published a report about the Iranian president’s inauguration:

“Dozens of world dignitaries attended Mr Rouhani’s inauguration at Iran’s parliament, reflecting an easing in Iran’s isolation since the nuclear deal.

Guests included EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the chairman of the North Korean parliament, Kim Yong-nam, signalling a growing closeness between Tehran and Pyongyang particularly over defence matters.”

The BBC did not however report that the inauguration’s guest list also included Hamas officials.

“A senior Hamas delegation arrived in Tehran on Friday in a bid to bolster the relationship with the Islamic Republic.

The visit included senior Hamas figure Izzat al-Rishq, currently based in Qatar, and head of the Hamas administration Saleh al-Arouri. They were formally invited to the swearing-in ceremony of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is beginning his second term in office.”

That Hamas delegation apparently also met with IRGC representatives.

“Senior members of the Hamas terror group met on Monday in Iran with representatives of the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guard, according to Arabic media reports.

A high-level Hamas delegation arrived in Tehran on Friday in order to attend the inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and to “turn a new page in bilateral relations” between the two sides, according to a statement by Hamas.

This is the first Hamas visit to Iran since the group elected new leadership earlier in 2017. The rapprochement between Hamas and Iran is reportedly being facilitated by the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, which is supported by Tehran.

The delegation consisted of Hamas political bureau members Ezzat al-Resheq, Saleh Arouri, Zaher Jabarin, and Osama Hamdan.

During its stay in Iran, the group met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday, as well as a number of other senior Iranian officials. […]

Hamas also needs to re-establish ties with Iran, as its current top backer Qatar is under fire from Gulf allies for supporting the Palestinian terror group.”

At the end of that August 5th BBC report on Rouhani’s inauguration audiences were told that:

“Last month, the US state department accused Iran of undermining stability, security and prosperity in the Middle East.

It criticised Iran’s support for the Syrian government and groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas and accused it of prolonging the conflict in Yemen by providing support for Houthi rebels.”

Had BBC audiences seen any coverage of Salah al Arouri’s relocation from Qatar to the Hizballah ruled suburb of Beirut and of the Hamas delegation’s visit to Tehran, they would of course be much better placed to understand what lies behind those US State Department statements. 

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BBC News coverage of Iranian election touts ‘moderate’ Rouhani yet again

Predictably, the BBC News website’s extensive coverage of the May 19th presidential election in Iran included copious portrayal of the winning candidate Hassan Rouhani as a “moderate” and a “reformer”.

Iran presidential election: Five things to know“, Siavash Ardalan, 28/4/17

“…Iranian national politics is basically a power struggle between conservatives and reformists/moderates. […] Don’t forget that it was President Rouhani, a moderate, who was instrumental in helping strike an historic nuclear deal with world powers by convincing the supreme leader – considered closely associated with the conservative establishment – to reluctantly give his blessing.”

“The office of president and the executive branch can be reformist/moderate and has been for the past four years with Mr Rouhani at its helm.”

Iran election: Could women decide the next president?, Rana Rahimpour, 5/5/17

“Early on in the campaign the incumbent, President Hassan Rouhani, posted a photo of himself on social media which caused a flurry of comment.

He was out on a weekend walk in the mountains standing next to two young female hikers, both of whose hijab is far from what would be considered proper by the hardliners.

It was a clear message to young, modern female voters, that he was the candidate who was not overly bothered about the country’s restrictive dress code and other curbs on social freedom.

Mr Rouhani’s campaign video makes a point of praising Iranian women’s achievements in the worlds of both work and sport, and offering his support.

He is also the only candidate so far to have held a rally specifically for female voters.”

Iran election: Hardliner Qalibaf withdraws candidacy“, 15/5/17

“Mr Qalibaf called on his supporters to back conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi against the incumbent Hassan Rouhani, a moderate who is seeking a second term.”

Iran election: Jahangiri withdraws and endorses Rouhani“, 16/5/17

“A reformist candidate in Iran’s presidential election has pulled out to smooth the path for the moderate incumbent, Hassan Rouhani.”

Iran election: Votes are counted amid high turnout“, 20/5/17

“Mr Rouhani is a moderate cleric who negotiated a landmark nuclear deal with world powers in 2015.”

Iran election: Hassan Rouhani wins second term as president“, 20/5/17

“Mr Rouhani, a moderate who agreed a deal with world powers to limit Iran’s nuclear programme, pledged to “remain true” to his promises.”

“…supporters of President Rouhani who back his promises to steer the country toward moderation came out in big numbers too. […] This was a revenge of the people against the hardliners who intimidated them, jailed them, executed them, drove them to exile, pushed them out of their jobs, and discriminated against women.

President Rouhani will now have a bigger mandate to push through his reforms, to put an end to extremism, to build bridges with the outside world, to put the economy back on track.”

Iran election: Hassan Rouhani gets big mandate but will he deliver?“, Kasra Naji, 20/5/17

“Friday’s vote in Iran was the revenge of the moderates. A rejection of those who had intimidated them, jailed them, executed them, drove them to exile, pushed them out of their jobs.

In his campaign, President Rouhani promised to put an end to extremism, to open up the political atmosphere, to extend individual and political rights, to free political prisoners, to remove discrimination against women and bring under control all those state institutions that are not accountable. […]

He firmly placed himself in the camp of the reformists. Now, with his re-election, Iran is on the path towards change, with a renewed confidence drawn from the emphatic result.”

Iran election: Hassan Rouhani says voters rejected extremism“, 20/5/17

“Moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said his re-election shows voters reject extremism and want more links with the outside world.”

“…supporters of President Rouhani who back his promises to steer the country toward moderation came out in big numbers too. […] This was a revenge of the people against the hardliners who intimidated them, jailed them, executed them, drove them to exile, pushed them out of their jobs, and discriminated against women.

President Rouhani will now have a bigger mandate to push through his reforms, to put an end to extremism, to build bridges with the outside world, to put the economy back on track.”

Iran elections: Pro-Rouhani reformists in Tehran power sweep“, 21/5/17

“Iran’s re-elected moderate President Hassan Rouhani has received a further boost after reformists won key council elections in the capital, Tehran.”

BBC audiences are of course no strangers to that good cop/bad cop portrayal of Iranian politics. Ever since Rouhani was first elected in 2013, the corporation has been portraying him as a “moderate” and a “reformist”, while ignoring the fact that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, published a report in 2015 that found – among other things – that the number of executions in Iran has risen under Rouhani’s presidency. Last year Amnesty International reported similar findings.

Back in March the WSJ noted that Rouhani’s first term as president “hasn’t been moderate”:

“Witness the latest repression targeting the mullahs’ usual suspects. Tehran’s Prosecutor-General on Sunday announced it had sentenced a couple to death because they had founded a new “cult.” The announcement was short on details, but the charges could mean anything from running a New Age yoga studio to a political-discussion club.

The authorities have also detained Ehsan Mazandarani, a reporter with the reformist newspaper Etemad (“Trust”), according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. […]

Mr. Mazandarani’s detention followed last week’s arrest of dissident reporter Hengameh Shahidi, who also faces “national-security” charges. Ms. Shahidi has been an adviser to Mehdi Karroubi, one of two pro-democracy candidates in 2009’s fraudulent election. Mr. Karroubi and opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi have been under house arrest since 2011. Having hinted at freeing them during his campaign, Mr. Rouhani has kept mum on their cases since coming to office in 2013. […]

Historic Christian communities such as Assyrians and Armenians are afforded second-class protection under Iranian law, while apostasy by Muslims is punishable by death. Despite some early rhetoric about tolerance, Mr. Rouhani has been unwilling or unable to improve conditions for religious minorities.

There is also the status of some half a dozen U.S. and U.K. dual citizens who have been taken hostage by the regime while visiting Iran. These include father and son Baquer and Siamak Namazi, both U.S. citizens, and Nazenin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British citizen who is serving a five-year sentence on secret charges.”

At the Telegraph, Christopher Booker writes of:

“…the ghastly farce of the Iranian presidential election, when again we were told that the victor, Hassan Rouhani, was a “moderate” against a “hardliner”. As I have reported many times, Rouhani is an utterly ruthless operator, who had presided since 2013 over a collapsing economy and what Amnesty International called “a staggering execution spree”, murdering and imprisoning so many dissidents that Iran has per capita the highest execution rate in the world.”

At Bloomberg, Eli Lake notes that:

“During his campaign, he [Rouhani] told voters that he would be a “lawyer” defending their rights. He criticized his main rival, Ebrahim Raisi, for his role in ordering the executions of political dissidents. He promised gender equality and a freer press.

All of that sounds pretty good. And for those in the west looking for an Iranian version of Mikhail Gorbachev, it makes a nice talking point. Unfortunately, there is no reason to believe Rouhani will deliver, or even try to deliver, on any of these promises.

There are a few reasons for this. To start, Rouhani delivered the same line back in 2013 when he first won the presidency. We now know that human rights in Iran have further eroded during his tenure. A lot of this has been documented by the Center for Human Rights in Iran. The organization noted in October that Rouhani supported a law that would essentially place all Iranian media under government control. The center also documented a wave of arrests of journalists in November 2015, following Iran’s agreement to the nuclear bargain with the U.S and five other world powers. In the run-up to Friday’s vote, 29 members of the European Parliament wrote an open letter urging Iran to end its arrests, intimidation and harassment of journalists in the election season.”

And yet, the BBC continues to spoon-feed its audiences with simplistic framing of Rouhani as a benevolent “moderate” and “reformer”. One would of course expect that a media organisation obliged to provide its funding public with accurate and impartial information with the aim of enhancing their “understanding of international issues” could do considerably better.

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BBC does Iranian ‘moderates and reformists’ framing yet again

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ Trump trip report flunks on Iran

As was noted here in an earlier post, the lead story in the May 22nd afternoon edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ concerned the US president’s visit to Israel.

In addition to repeated promotion of the ‘apartheid’ calumny, in the first of two items relating to that story listeners had heard BBC Jerusalem correspondent Tom Bateman telling them that the Israeli government ‘says’ that Iran arms Hizballah.

Razia Iqbal: “You mentioned Iran and there was some criticism of Iran when the president was in Saudi Arabia and he has underlined that criticism again today in Israel hasn’t he?”

Tom Bateman: That’s right and, you know, I don’t think that’s going to be the last of it and of course it’s a message that resonates with Israel because Israel’s government is extremely concerned about Iran. They believe that…ah…because of its action, that they say it’s arming Hizballah just north of Israel here in Syria [sic], that that brings an even greater threat – in fact its greatest threat in the form of Hizballah just over its border in Lebanon.” [emphasis added]

As was noted in our previous post:

“One would of course expect a BBC correspondent based in Jerusalem – new or not – to be capable of informing BBC audiences that Iranian financial and military support for Hizballah (in violation of UNSC resolution 1701) is not just something that the Israeli government ‘says’ but a fact about which Hizballah has been open and at least one Iranian official has admitted.”

Later on in the same programme’s second item on that story (from 45:05 here) presenter Razia Iqbal returned to the topic of Iran in a conversation with the BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet.

Listeners learned nothing from that conversation about the Iranian regime’s policy of supporting and enabling terror groups in the region and the real reasons why some Middle East countries have long viewed the Iranian regime as a threat to regional stability were not conveyed to BBC audiences. What they did hear, however, is a portrayal of the subject that would doubtless have gone down very well in Tehran. [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Razia Iqbal: “Let’s return to our top story now; the second leg of President Trump’s visit to the Middle East. Today he is in Israel and the Palestinian territories. We’re joined now from Jerusalem by Newshour’s Lyse Doucet. Ah…Lyse: you were in Saudi Arabia following President Trump there and Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke directly about the fact that the president flew from Riyad to Tel Aviv and though there were no diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel. I wonder if there is a sense here that the Gulf states are making common cause with Israel in the context of their mutual fear of Iran?”

Doucet: “Yes, it’s very interesting isn’t it? This little diplomatic milestone: President Trump flying for the first time on this first direct flight. In fact Prime Minister Netanyahu said he looks forward to the day when an Israeli prime minister can fly from Tel Aviv to Riyad. And I think it’s a story that doesn’t get enough attention; that there have been behind the scene, very discreet meetings between Israelis and Saudis. Very senior Saudis have come to Israel before because they do want to make common cause.”

Of course one of the media outlets not giving “enough attention” to that story is the BBC itself. Doucet continued:

“You’ve mentioned one of the biggest reasons to do so and that is their shared animosity towards Iran. That was one of the main issues in the centrepiece speech that President Trump delivered to a gathering of some 40 Arab and…leaders from the Arab and Islamic world. Not just the fight against extremism but a fight against Iran and he’s brought that message here. He spoke of…he said I’ve come from the Arab world with the common understanding that is shared by you that Iran is the main threat. So things are definitely shifting.”

Of course “things” actually ‘shifted’ quite some time ago – as Gulf state reactions to the 2015 P5+1 deal with Iran concerning its nuclear programme indicated – but neither Iqbal nor Doucet (who has written about that topic in the past) bothered to remind listeners of that.

Iqbal: “It’s interesting to hear you say they’re shifting because of course Iran on the ground in Iraq and in…in…certainly in Iraq is doing quite a lot to fight against the Islamic State group. So one wonders about these tectonic shifts, if you like, and how they’ll manifest itself [sic] given that President Trump is really keen to make inroads with eliminating Islamic State.”

Doucet: “Yes, and welcome, President Trump, to the Middle East. At some point we may hear him say – as he said about the Affordable Care Act in the United States; Obamacare, – I didn’t realise that it was so complicated. As you know, take Syria that you just mentioned [sic] – he wants to push back Iran; that is the Saudis’ main goal. But interestingly, President Trump did not mention Russia in his speech in Riyad. And arguably Russia and Iran are working together, first to bolster President Assad but also to fight against so-called Islamic State and at the same time to push back some of the forces which have been trained and financed by the United States.

And what the Iranians would say is that they are in Syria because they’ve been asked to be there. They’re in Iraq because they’ve been asked to be there and they see no reason why they should leave. I think there’s growing concern about what will come next at a time when Iranians have shown that in the re-election of Hassan Rouhani, they want an engagement with the wider world. The message from Riyad – and it will be the message as well from Jerusalem – is that their enemies want to isolate them in the world.”

Iqbal: “Just, Lyse, very briefly; his next trip is to the Palestinian territories?”

Doucet: “Yes. The Palestinians have been surprised. They thought that President Trump would be only focusing on Israeli interests and Israeli views but his ear has been bent by King Abdallah of Jordan, by the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and this is why we’re not going to see the announcement of a move of the American embassy to Jerusalem. He is trying to be a friend of Israel and a friend of the Palestinians.”

Doucet offers no factual evidence for that extraordinary claim.

For years BBC journalists – and not least Lyse Doucet and Razia Iqbal in person – have been playing down the Iranian regime’s regional aggression and patronage of terrorism and the corporation has also repeatedly propagated the myth of ‘moderates’ within the Iranian regime.

If BBC audiences are to understand why Israel may have common interests relating to Iran with some of its neighbours in the Middle East, then clearly they need to be provided with a factually accurate and comprehensive portrayal of the Iranian regime’s policies, positions and activities rather than whitewashed, vacuous and unhelpful commentary of the type broadcast to millions worldwide in this item.  

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BBC does Iranian ‘moderates and reformists’ framing yet again

The BBC News website published numerous reports concerning the death of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on January 8th and a common feature in all that content was the promotion of the notion that Rafsanjani was a ‘moderate’ and a ‘reformer’.

Iran’s ex-President Rafsanjani dies at 82:

“In recent years, our correspondent says, he has been a central figure in the reform movement that has been trying to have a moderating influence on Iran and Ayatollah Khamenei.”

Obituary: Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

“Seen as “pragmatic conservative”, Rafsanjani was a leading member of the Iran’s religious establishment who gained popularity in later life among the country’s moderates. […]

He went on to be openly critical of Mr Ahmadinejad and became a key supporter of his reform-minded successor, Hassan Rouhani.”

Ex-President Rafsanjani a ‘most influential figure’ in Iran:

“…in recent years he has been instrumental in pushing a line of moderation in Iran, influencing…a moderating influence in Iran. And in recent years again he became gradually a top figure in the Iranian reform movement. So his death is going to leave a big hole in the reform movement and that moderating influence that they were trying to push.”

Iran former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani dies aged 82

“…but his political allegiances later shifted towards reformists…”

Iran loses force for continuity with Rafsanjani’s death:rafsanjani 

“At the same time his death has left a big hole in the confidence of the moderates and the reformist movement in Iran. […]

Although he began politically as an Islamic hardliner, Rafsanjani had increasingly moved to the centre of Iranian politics in the last two decades, and in recent years, he became a champion of the reformists and a strong moderating influence, gaining huge popularity.”

Iran Rafsanjani death: Huge crowds at ex-president’s funeral:

“But over the decades, the wily politician who held almost every major position in government became known for his pragmatic approach to Iran’s theocracy.

He pushed for a greater rapprochement with the West and more social and economic freedoms.

His credentials gave him the courage and the clout to speak out. The reformists he backed, including the current President Hassan Rouhani, have now lost a key ally in their incessant struggle for power against the hardliners.”

Iran Rafsanjani funeral underscores political divisions:

“Some were chanting opposition slogans, and others carried placards emphasising Mr Rafsanjani’s links to the moderate and reformist camps. […]

“The circle became too closed for the centre,” said another, using a quotation from Persian poetry to underline the growing distance in recent years between Mr Rafsanjani and Iran’s hardline political establishment.”

BBC audiences are of course no strangers to similar framing of the current Iranian president as a ‘moderate’ and a ‘reformer’ even though Rouhani’s record does nothing to support the employment of such portrayals. As the Jerusalem Post’s Seth Frantzman noted:

“Then former Iranian president Akbar Hashem Rafsanjani died on Sunday at age 82. Western media once again sold us a story of how this was a “big blow to moderates and reformists,” as CNBC reported. Rafsanjani was the “most influential supporter” of reforms among the Islamic establishment. Now the non-existent “reformers” have another excuse why there are no reforms. […]

Reading news about Iran it almost seems every western news agency and major media outlet receives talking points from some unseen super-news media word database. “When writing about Iran there are two political parties, the reformers or moderates and the hard-liners, use these key words when describing everything. […]

The reality in Iran is that the choice is not between reformers and hard-liners, but the extreme religious right and the extreme nationalist religious right. There are no liberal leaders in Iran.  There are only militarists, theocrats, nationalists, extremists, the extreme right, the populist right, the fundamentalists, the fundamentalist right, the Inquisition leaders, and floggers and executioners. […]

Every time journalists parrot this “moderates” story they feed a false regime-supported narrative.”

At the Wall Street Journal Sohrab Ahmari writes:

“Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was the original Mr. Moderation. Western observers saw the former Iranian president as a sort of Deng Xiaoping in clerical robes: a founder of the Islamic Republic who was destined to transform the country into a normal state. Rafsanjani, they thought, was too corrupt to be an ideologue.

Yet Rafsanjani, who died Sunday at 82, consistently defied such hopes. His life and legacy remind us that fanaticism and venality aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s a lesson in the persistence of Western fantasies about the Iranian regime. […]

Khomeini’s death in 1989 occasioned Rafsanjani’s worst political misstep. Thinking he could puppeteer events behind the scenes, Rafsanjani successfully promoted his archrival, Ali Khamenei, as the next supreme leader. But Mr. Khamenei, far more assertive than Rafsanjani had imagined, soon consolidated power.

The regime’s Western apologists framed that rivalry as a genuine ideological conflict between the “hard-line” Mr. Khamenei and the “pragmatic,” “moderate” Rafsanjani (along with others, such as current President Hassan Rouhani). President Obama’s nuclear deal was premised on the same fantasy: Rafsanjani had accumulated vast, ill-gotten wealth—here’s someone with whom we can do business.

Yet Rafsanjani never failed to follow the “Line of the Imam,” not least in foreign affairs. […]

Still the illusions die hard. Minutes after Rafsanjani’s death was announced, the New York Times’s Tehran correspondent tweeted that it “is a major blow to moderates and reformists in Iran.””

While the BBC is clearly not alone in having bought into the notion of ‘moderates’ and ‘reformists’ within the Iranian political establishment, one would of course expect that a media organisation obliged to provide its funding public with accurate and impartial information which will build their “understanding of international issues” could do considerably better.

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Why does the BBC continue to describe Rouhani as a ‘moderate’?

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BBC framing of Iran’s president once again shown to be redundant

Just over a year ago we posed the following question on these pages: “Why does the BBC continue to describe Rouhani as a ‘moderate’?“. That question was prompted by the fact that at the time – nearly two years after Rouhani’s election – the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran had just published a report which found that the number of executions in Iran has risen under Rouhani’s presidency.

On April 6th 2016 the BBC News website published an article titled “Amnesty highlights ‘disturbing rise’ in global executions” which has the following fifty-eight words to say about the country which, according to the quoted report, had the second highest rate of executions in the world in 2015.executions art

“Iran executed at least 977 people in 2015 – the vast majority for drug-related crimes – compared with 743 the year before, according to Amnesty.

Those put to death, the group found, included at least four people who were under 18 at the time of the crime for which they had been convicted. This, it said, violated international law.”

Although no mention of it is made in this BBC report, additional organisations have raised questions regarding Iran’s dubious use of charges concerning drug-related crime and the lack of due process for those detained on such charges. According to the organisation ‘Iran Human Rights’:

“…Iranian authorities have carried out more executions in 2015 than any other year in the past 25 years.”

A recent report from the same NGO notes that:

“Since the election of Hassan Rouhani in June 2013, at least 2162 people have been executed. A comparison between the 2.5 years after Hassan Rouhani’s election and the 2.5 years before his election show an increase of 43% in the number of executions.

Although it is the judiciary which issues and implements death sentences, neither President Rouhani nor members of his cabinet expressed any dissatisfaction about the large number of executions. On the contrary, on the few occasions when President Rouhani or Foreign minister Zarif made statements about the death penalty they have defended Iran’s high number of executions.”Iran elections

Nevertheless, as recently as late February the BBC was still telling its audiences that Rouhani is “Iran’s reformist President” and describing him as heading a “reformist camp”. A BBC profile of Rouhani last updated in February 2016 tells audiences that ‘Mr Rouhani says he wants to steer Iran towards “moderation”‘ and another profile dated August 2015 states that:

“Although he was seen as part of the establishment, Mr Rouhani’s promises to relieve sanctions, improve civil rights and restore “the dignity of the nation” drew large crowds on the campaign trail.” [emphasis added]

Towards the end of that profile, however, readers learn that:

“Mr Rouhani had pledged to help free reformist opposition leaders, held without trial since 2011, but hardliners have stood firm and they remain under house arrest.

He also promised to usher in an era of more freedoms in the country where human rights abuses are rife. However, few believe there has been much improvement here, and in some areas the situation may have worsened.

There are still many journalists, and opposition activists in jail, and the number of executions carried out in Iran has soared.”

Clearly then the BBC knows full well that in the nearly three years since his election, Rouhani has done very little to justify the “reformist” and “moderate” labels it regularly appends to him. The question which therefore must be asked is why does the BBC continue to employ such editorial framing given that it clearly hinders the corporation’s obligation to enhance its funding public’s “awareness and understanding of international issues”?. 

 

BBC News frames Iranian elections as victory for ‘reformists and moderates’

Those getting their news about the recent elections in Iran from the BBC will have learned of a sweeping victory for what the corporation terms “reformists”. Readers of the BBC News website’s February 28th article titled “Iran election: Reformists win all 30 Tehran seats” were told that:Iran elections

“Allies of Iran’s reformist President Hassan Rouhani have won a landslide victory in Tehran, in the first parliamentary vote since Iran signed a nuclear deal with world powers.

With 90% of the votes counted, the pro-Rouhani List of Hope is set to take all 30 parliamentary seats in the capital.”

Analysis from the BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet informed readers of this article and a later one that:

“This stunning election result will make a difference in Iran’s engagement with the wider world.

President Rouhani’s hand has been strengthened in parliament to help open his country to greater trade and investment. That will help him, and others in his reformist camp, to deepen the dialogue with the West, which began with negotiations on a landmark nuclear deal.”

Oddly, though, little column space was given to serious discussion of the topic of what exactly those “reformists” aspire to reform in their country.

“Reformists, who want better relations with the outside world and more freedoms at home, were hoping to gain influence in the conservative-dominated bodies.”

“Reformists and moderates say they are targeting greater foreign investment which, our correspondent says, will create jobs for young people.”

And audiences found the term “moderate conservative” used in this article and a subsequent one to describe a man implicated in the 1994 AMIA bombing and the murders of Iranian dissidents.

“Early results gave former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a moderate conservative, and Mr Rouhani the most votes for the assembly, which is composed of mostly elder and senior clerics.”

The BBC is of course not the only Western media organization to be reporting on the Iranian elections in this euphemistic manner. The Wall Street Journal, however, has unpacked some of that journalistic framing.

“Western media are nonetheless describing the results as an “embarrassing defeat” for the regime’s hard-liners and the moderates’ “best nationwide electoral showing in more than a decade,” as the Associated Press put it. Of particular note are the results in the capital, Tehran, a national barometer where on Sunday it appeared that candidates on the moderate list had swept all 30 seats in the Majlis.

Some moderates. Consider Mostafa Kavakebian. The General Secretary of Iran’s Democratic Party, Mr. Kavakebian is projected to enter the Majlis as a member for Tehran. In a 2008 speech he said: “The people who currently reside in Israel aren’t humans, and this region is comprised of a group of soldiers and occupiers who openly wage war on the people.”

Another moderate is Kazem Jalali, who previously served as the spokesman for the National Security and Foreign Affairs Committee of the Majlis and is projected to have won a seat. In 2011 Mr. Jalali said his committee “demands the harshest punishment”—meaning the death penalty—for Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, the two leaders of the pro-democracy Green Movement that was bloodily suppressed after stolen elections in 2009. Those two leaders are still under house arrest.

As for new Assembly of Experts, many of the “moderates” projected to have won seats were also listed on the hard-liners’ lists, since the ratio of candidates to seats was well below two. The winners include Mohammad Reyshahry, a former Intelligence Minister believed to have helped spearhead the 1988 summary execution of thousands of leftists; Ghorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi, another former Intelligence Minister believed to have directed the “chain murders” of the late 1990s; and Ayatollah Yousef Tabatabainejad, a fierce opponent of women’s rights who has called Israel “a cancerous tumor.””

Since Rouhani’s election in 2013 the BBC has consistently portrayed him as a “reformer” and a “moderate”, managing in all that time to avoid uncomfortable topics such as the 2015 UN report which found that the number of executions in Iran has in fact risen since Rouhani came to power.

Licence fee payers may well be asking themselves how exactly such editorial framing meets the corporation’s obligation to enhance their “awareness and understanding of international issues”. 

 

Why does the BBC continue to describe Rouhani as a ‘moderate’?

Since his election in June 2013 the BBC, has consistently portrayed Hassan Rouhani as a ‘moderate’ and a ‘reformer’, with the BBC’s profile of the Iranian president stating:Rouhani

“Mr Rouhani says he wants to steer Iran towards “moderation”.”

Another profile tells audiences:

“His campaign slogan “moderation and wisdom” continued to be a theme at his inauguration in August.

Despite being very much part of the Islamic Republic’s establishment, his promises of reform, of working to ease sanctions, of helping to free political prisoners, of guaranteeing civil rights and a return of “dignity to the nation” drew large crowds when he was on the campaign trail.”

Whilst the BBC has never actually got down to discussing the nitty-gritty of Rouhani’s interpretation of ‘moderation’ and ‘reform’, two recent reports indicate that his agenda does not include human rights.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, published a report last week which includes examination of the ‘right to life’. Mr Shaheed found that the number of executions in Iran has risen under Rouhani’s presidency.

“At least 753 individuals were reportedly executed in 2014 (the highest total recorded in the past 12 years). This includes the execution of 25 women and 53 public executions. Nearly half of all executions — 362 — were for drug-related crimes (not including those drug related offenses that were also committed in conjunction with homicide crimes), which do not meet the internationally accepted threshold of “most serious crimes” required for use of the death penalty. In at least four cases the families of homicide victims provided pardons only after authorities implemented the death penalty by hanging. In these instances, authorities ceased the execution and lowered individuals after a period of suspension.”

He also found that minors were executed.

“The revised Islamic Penal Code, which came into force in June 2013, also provides capital punishment for juvenile offenders (unless the offender is found to lack the mental capacity to understand the nature of the crime or its consequences). Regardless of the revision, juvenile executions continue. Reports indicate that at least 13 juveniles may have been executed in 2014 alone.”

Another topic addressed in the report is freedom of expression.

“At least 13 journalists and bloggers have been arrested or detained since July 2014.31 As of December 2014, 30 journalists were detained, despite the release of at least eight journalists since July 2014 upon completion of their prison sentences.32 Charges include vaguely worded “national security” crimes, such as “propaganda against the system,” “assembly and collusion against the system,” “insulting the Supreme Leader,” and “spreading falsehoods with intent to agitate the public consciousness.” In September 2014, the Supreme Court of Iran upheld the death sentence for Mr. Soheil Arabi, a blogger convicted of sabb a-nabi (insulting the Islamic Prophet) for comments he allegedly posted on several Facebook accounts. He was also convicted of “insulting Government officials,” “insulting the Supreme Leader” and “propaganda against the system.” In its reply, The Government claims that Mr. Arabi “injured [sic] public religion sensation.” “

Persecution of Bahais and Christians is noted in the report and – in contrast to the BBC’s recent whitewashing of the issue – it also presents a grim picture of women’s rights in Iran.

“Recent legislative attempts made by the Iranian Parliament appear to further restrict the rights of women to their full and equal enjoyment of internationally recognized rights.”

report on the death penalty in Iran was also issued last week by ‘Iran Human Rights’. That report notes a 10% increase in executions in 2014 compared to the previous year.

“Moreover, a comparison of the execution rates in the 18 months before and after the election of Mr. Rouhani shows a significant increase in the use of the death penalty after Rouhani’s election. There has also been the highest number of reported juvenile executions since 1990. In addition, Iranian authorities continue execution for non-violent civil and political activists.” 

It is clearly time for the BBC to explain to audiences why it continues to describe the current Iranian president as ‘moderate’. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BBC’s Marcus promotes ‘moderated’ Iranian Holocaust denial

Although it did not stay up for long, visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page on September 30th 2013 were offered the opportunity to read BBC diplomatic/defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus’ supercilious chiding of the Israeli government for not being in step with the latest fashion under the title “Iran-US ‘rapprochement’ challenges Israel’s Netanyahu” – presented under the heading “Features & Analysis”.

“In the United States this week, Prime Minister Netanyahu risks appearing like a ghost at the feast; a travelling salesman whose wares have lost their appeal; a man whose warnings against Iranian perfidy seem out of tune with the moment.”

Marcus Iran US 1

Although Marcus admits that the spectacle of smiles, soft phrasing and one phone call “has provoked a wave of euphoria among commentators and even some diplomats”, he does not offer any serious analysis on the subject of whether that “wave of euphoria” – also being ridden by the BBC – has any justification.

Revealingly, Marcus presents Israel as the lone party pooper out in the cold and in order to do that, he has to funnel the entire ‘Iranian issue’ into the packaging of a deal curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions, whilst ignoring other no less relevant issues such as Iran’s support for Bashar Assad’s regime and its involvement in international terrorism. Significantly, he ignores the fact that even the media’s current favourite ‘Mr Nice Guy’ has clearly stated that he would “never give up his country’s right to enrich uranium“. 

Of course Israel is not the only country in the Middle East to be underwhelmed by the sight of Western politicians and journalists swooning over Hassan Rouhani like teenagers at a Justin Bieber concert – although BBC audiences are told nothing about that. The Bahraini foreign minister’s recent UN speech revealed some of that country’s concerns.

“…noting the need to inscribe organizations such as the Lebanese Hezbollah on the international list of terrorist organizations in view of their criminal terrorist acts aimed at terrorizing peaceful civilians and generating instability and chaos. ” […]

“The first among these challenges is the need to put an end to Iranian intervention in the internal affairs of the countries of the region and its occupation of the three Emirates’ islands: Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa”… 

Likewise, the press in other Gulf States – along with additional commentators – reflects concerns in other countries which are no less threatened by Iran’s nuclear ambitions than Israel.

“Saudis now feel that the Obama administration is disregarding Saudi concerns over Iran and Syria, and will respond accordingly in ignoring “U.S. interests, U.S. wishes, U.S. issues” in Syria, said Mustafa Alani, a veteran Saudi security analyst with the Geneva-based Gulf Research Center.”

The most notable paragraph in Marcus’ article, however, is this one, which comes under the interesting sub-heading of “‘Unhealthy’ negativity”: [emphasis added]

“Prime Minister Netanyahu instructed Israeli diplomats to absent themselves from the UN chamber when President Rouhani was speaking. Iranian comments moderating their long-standing denial of the Holocaust perpetrated against the Jews by the Nazis during World War II won Tehran few brownie points in Israel.”

Marcus Iran US 2

Marcus – in line with many of his colleagues in the media – appears to have persuaded himself that a few recent strategically chosen words and phrases, uttered by less than a handful of dignitaries, signify a “moderating” of Iranian Holocaust denial for which Israelis should be grateful – and he now seeks to herd his readers towards the same conclusion.

Marcus’ interpretation of comments made by Hassan Rouhani and his foreign minister is of course based on what might be politely called selective hearing. Ten days before the appearance of Marcus’ article the BBC News website published an item on Rouhani’s NBC interview in which it completely ignored the parts of the conversation relating to the Holocaust.

“…he deflected a question from NBC News’ Ann Curry about whether he believed that the Holocaust was “a myth.”

“I’m not a historian. I’m a politician,” he replied. “What is important for us is that the countries of the region and the people grow closer to each other, and that they are able to prevent aggression and injustice.” “

Rouhani’s “I’m not a historian” line appeared again in a later controversial interview with CNN which received partial coverage from the BBC with no mention of Rouhani’s subsequent remarks which revealed little in the way of “moderation”, at best clearly questioning the scale of the Holocaust.

“Therefore, what the Nazis did is condemnable. The dimensions of it which you say, is the responsibility of historians and researchers to make those dimensions clear. I am not a historian myself.

However, this point should be clear: If a crime took place, that crime should not be a cover for a nation or group to justify their crimes or oppression against others. Therefore, if the Nazis committed a crime, and however much it was, we condemn that, because genocide or mass murder is condemned.

From our viewpoint, it doesn’t matter if the person killed is Jewish, Christian or Muslim. From our viewpoint, [it] does not make difference. Killing an innocent human is rejected and condemned. But this cannot be a reason for 60 years to displace a people from their land and say that the Nazis committed crimes. That crime [too] is condemned; occupying the land of others is also condemned from our viewpoint.” [emphasis added]

On September 8th the BBC claimed that Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had “distanced himself from the Holocaust denials of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad” in a Tweet in which Zarif in fact related to Ahmadinejad’s “perceived” Holocaust denial. Since then, Zarif has publicly said that “the Holocaust is not a myth” whilst at the same time blaming “bad translation” for the fact that a statement on the official website of Iran’s Supreme Leader describes the Holocaust in exactly such terms (and regime-controlled media continues down the same route) and using antisemitic Nazi analogies.

“This is the problem when you translate something from Persian to English,” he said. “You may lose some of the meaning. This has unfortunately been the case several times over. The point is, we condemn the killing of innocent people whether it happens in Nazi Germany or whether it is happening in Palestine.”

As Chemi Shalev wrote on September 30th in Ha’aretz:

“But Iran’s ongoing Holocaust denial, absolute or partial, is much more than a personal or even collective affront. It is a telltale sign, first and foremost, of the Iranian regime’s abiding anti-Semitism, as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum makes clear: “Holocaust denial and distortion are generally motivated by hatred of Jews, and build on the claim that the Holocaust was invented or exaggerated by Jews as part of a plot to advance Jewish interests.”

Consequently, if the blatant Holocaust denial of Iran’s spiritual leader Ali Khamenei and former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a clear-cut manifestation of their “hatred of Jews,” then the more sterile version of Holocaust distortion offered by Rohani and his Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is but a refined version of the exact same odious sentiment.”

For some reason, Jonathan Marcus seeks to persuade BBC audiences that Israel should be gratefully giving out “brownie points” to any Iranian official who does a mealy-mouthed makeover on Ahmadinejad’s previous performance. The waters of that “wave of euphoria” appear to have turned Mr Marcus’ critical and analytic faculties rather soggy. 

Related articles:

R4 ‘Today’ expounds BBC ‘World View’ on Iran

BBC presents airbrushed picture of Rouhani NBC interview

BBC continues to portray a ‘moderate’ Iranian regime

The Guardian engages in Rouhani Revisionism in report on “Holocaust” remarks

Rouhani Fever and CNN

Denying the denial in Iran

 

R4 ‘Today’ expounds BBC ‘World View’ on Iran

If listeners are interested in hearing a potted version of the BBC World View regarding the Iranian nuclear issue, the September 26th edition of the Today programme provides just such an opportunity. It also underscores two themes which the BBC appears to be doing its utmost to promote and amplify.

Starting at around 1:33:32 in this recording (available for a limited period of time) presenter John Humphrys introduces a segment of the broadcast which includes an interview with Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev with the following words.

“It was President Bush who coined the phrase ‘axis of evil’ – three countries whose activities threatened world peace – and Iran was one of the three. That was eleven years ago. A lot’s changed since then. At least that’s the hope at the United Nations today. For the first time there will be high-level meetings to find ways of Iran giving up its nuclear weapons programme in exchange for sanctions being dropped. The reason for this new hope is the more moderate approach of the new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.” [emphasis added]

There is the first BBC promoted theme: audiences are not invited to make up their own minds as to whether a few strategically chosen words in interviews, speeches – and perhaps Tweets too – signal anything which can realistically be described as ‘moderation’. They are not even encouraged to ponder the question of what a “moderate approach” is in a regime which supports and enables regional dictators and terror organisations, which dictates the dress code of half its citizens and which discriminates against, imprisons and executes its own civilians for adhering to the ‘wrong’ religious or political views. 

No – the BBC made up its mind that Rouhani is a ‘moderate’ practically before he had opened his mouth and BBC audiences are being kept firmly in line with that view, with no chance of reality being allowed to get in the way.

During the interview with Mark Regev – which was also featured on the BBC News website’s Middle East page – Humphrys promotes another BBC theme: that of equivalence between a repressive theocratic dictatorship and a working multi-cultural democracy. Today prog on ME pge

At 1:21 in that recording Humphrys says:

“Well in other words, they’re [Iran] doing those things that Israel itself has done because Israel itself has nuclear weapons.”

Regev replies:

“The issue we’re talking about is Iran and its nuclear weapons…”

Humphrys – with audible disdain – interrupts:

“Well is it irrelevant then that (scoffing laughter) Israel has nuclear….you’re telling Iran it cannot have nuclear weapons while you yourselves have nuclear weapons.”

After Regev’s reply, at 2:28, Humphrys says:

“What’s the difference between an ‘aggressive’ nuclear bomb and …I dunno…a ‘passive’ nuclear bomb?”

At 3:06 Humphrys interrupts Mark Regev again – deftly changing the subject from Iran’s activities in the Syrian civil war.

“They’re making very different noises now, aren’t they? And you…of course you’re entitled to say ‘oh, it’s just talk and they don’t mean it’, but give it a chance, can’t you? I mean isn’t that what the world wants you to do? What the world – at least a very large part of the world including the United States – wants Israel to do, which is to say yes; of course we are deeply suspicious of this regime, given some of its history. On the other hand,  we have treated Iran – that is to say the West, the United States, this country [Britain], has treated Iran in very dodgy ways indeed over the years – let’s now give it a chance to see if it can change its ways and if it does, the world will benefit hugely. A huge threat will have been lifted.”

Amazingly, the senior presenter of the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme appears to have completely failed to grasp that in the wake of the recent Syrian chemical weapons debacle, the West’s relevance in the Middle East in general – including what it wants Israel to do or not to do – has been diminished by the performance of the very countries he cites – the US and the UK. 

At 4:37 Humphrys opines:

“But surely it’s counter…it…it…it’s damaging to the whole process if, as your prime minister did, you instruct your delegation to boycott the speech…to boycott the Iranian president’s speech. Your own finance minister Mr Lapid said that instruction was a mistake. Israel, he said, should not seem as if it is serially opposed to negotiations, and is a country that is uninterested in peaceful solutions. That’s the danger for you, isn’t it? That’s how you paint yourselves.”

Humphrys’ focus on chiding the Israeli spokesman for his government’s refusal to have its UN delegation sit through Rouhani’s speech means that BBC audiences learn nothing with regard to the pro-forma anti-Israel rhetoric in the speech itself, Rouhani’s assorted Holocaust questioning and diminishing interviews with the Western media or the fact that just days before his UN appearance, Rouhani presided at a military rally (unreported by the BBC) in Tehran complete with calls for Israel’s destruction. Iran military parade

“Iranian President Hassan Rohani took part in an event in which there were calls for the destruction of Israel just days before the United Nations General Assembly.

On Sunday, a few days before he left for the UN meeting in New York, Rohani participated in a military parade in Tehran. Trucks carrying long-range missiles passed in front of him, alongside signs calling for the destruction of Israel.

A picture of the event, published on an Iranian website and by the French AFP news agency, show trucks bearing Shihab 3 missiles, which have the range to strike Israel. A sign in Persian hanging on one truck reads, “Israel must stop existing.” “

The subject of how Iran ‘paints itself’ is obviously not an issue for the cultural relativists of the ‘Today’ programme, but nevertheless, BBC audiences have the right to expect to be informed of the entire picture – not just the themes the BBC is keen to promote.

Related articles:

Does the evidence support the BBC’s touting of “less hardline Iranian stance” on nuclear issue?

BBC continues to portray a ‘moderate’ Iranian regime

Inaccuracy corrected in one BBC Rouhani article, left standing in another

BBC tones down Iranian rhetoric and extremism