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Iranian MPs lash out at IRIB for "biased" coverage of Iraqi crisis

Tehran, April 7, IRNA -- The US-British campaign against Iraq was concurrent with the Nowrouz (New Iranian Year) holidays in Iran.

While people expected the best from the state TV, their joy watching the programs with the family was often marred by feelings of worry and anxiety from streaming news, analyses and moving subtitles on minute-by-minute reports about the Iraqi crisis.

Still, many believe that the TV, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), has been to a large extent in favor of the Iraqi regime in covering the crisis, with several others regretting that the institution was turning a blind eye to the fact that Iraq had imposed an eight-year bloody war on Iran.

Such objections were most obvious in speeches at the Parliament (Majlis) on Sunday when the deputies voiced concern that the IRIB, only answerable to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, was defying Iran's positions of neutrality toward the crisis.

The Persian-language newspaper `Aftab-E Yazd' on Monday quoted Elahe Koulaei, the rapporteur of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, as saying that the IRIB was not adhering to Iran's neutrality in the war, warning that this could harm Iran's national interests.

Koulaei, talking to reporters after Parliament's open session, said that the Iraqis had fallen victim to the wrong policies of their President Saddam Hussain, stressing that the IRIB must, however, consider Iran's national interests regarding the war.

"Although we understand what a suffering the Iraqi people are going through, we must prioritize defending the rights of the Iranians," the Aftab-E Yazd quoted her as saying.

"Iran's priority regarding the Iraqi crisis is the common interests of the Iranian people, and we should not forget our own people for the sake of the Iraqis."

Koulaei said the Iraqi regime is intentionally taking the war to the cities for propaganda purposes, and called on the IRIB to reflect the realities of the crisis without resorting to selective approaches.

"There is no reason for us to support the Iraqi President Saddam Hussain and the Baathist regime, because the Iraqi regime is the same that waged a war on Iran using the support of the US, EU and the Soviet Union," she said.

Also, the English-language newspaper `Iran Daily' quoted Koulaei as saying that she had told President Mohammad Khatami last week that "the IRIB's mode of coverage of war developments is problematic for Iran at the international level".

"The IRIB only reflects on the number of bombs that have hit Iraq and the number of casualties. There is no diversity in its war coverage. This approach is one-sided and many other war-related developments are ignored," the Iran Daily quoted the deputy as saying.

Koulaei further said that the IRIB must follow the ratification of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), stressing that the council had convened "in order to defend the rights of Iranians and not the interests of Iraq".

In related news, a deputy from Qazvin Nasser Qavami on Sunday lashed out at the IRIB for what he said was "slanted coverage of the Iraqi crisis", stressing that IRIB's performance was against Iran's officially declared stance toward the issue.

The Aftab-E Yazd quoted Qavami as urging the institution to review its news service policy on Iraq, and underscoring the need that it reports the events in Iraq without siding with any of the clashing parties.

The daily also quoted deputy from Lanjan Ali-Mohammad Namazi as saying that IRIB's analyses on the war in Iraq depict the developments as if Iraq is going to win the war.

He said the audience are very likely to believe that Iraq is going to win the war over the US-British troops once exposed to the news and comments of the IRIB.

Meanwhile, an official with the institution on Sunday rejected the critical viewpoints by the deputies, stressing that IRIB's coverage of the war had been approved by relevant officials.

The English-language newspaper `Tehran Times' quoted Ezzatollah Zarghami, the IRIB deputy director for parliamentary affairs, as saying that the services of the institution complied with the ratification of the SNSC's War Committee, stressing that the claims over IRIB's biased news and programs on the war cannot be testified.

Zarghami further said that the IRIB always mentions the atrocities that the Iraqi regime perpetrated against Iranians in the 1980-88 war with Iran in its reports and analyses of the US-British invasion of that country.

... Payvand News - 4/7/03 ... --

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