PARIS, 28 Dec. (IPS) Hojjatoleslam Mehdi Karroubi, a “pillar” of the Islamic Revolution has decided to sue Mr. Ali Larijani, the new Secretary of Iran’s Supreme Council of National Security (SCNS) for having banned the “Saba Television” from activities in Iran, opening a new challenge to the new islamo-populist President Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad.
Based in the United Arab Emirate, the satellite channel television was due to start operation as from last week, but the Iranian authorities prevented a member of the network to land in Dubai, taking with him a copy of the station’s first programmes compiled in Tehran.
The “Saba Television” was supposed to be the first privately owned network belonging to one of the Islamic Republic’s highest religious dignitaries.
“We had asked the authorities to show patience and tolerance for two months only and if in the meantime they would find any thing wrong with our programmes, anything anti-Islamic or against the interests of the Islamic Republic, we would have bowed. But they didn’t. My question now is that why foreign-based and owned radio and television stations can have offices in Iran and not us”, Mr. Karroubi, a pro-reform cleric who was twice Speaker of the Majles told the audience at the launch of his political organisation, the National Reliance Party (NRP) on Tuesday 27 December 2005 in Tehran.
The Saba Television” was supposed to be the first privately owned network belonging to one of the Islamic Republic’s highest religious dignitaries offering programmes, including “objective and unbiased news, views and reportages” about Iran in Farsi language aimed at all Iranians, mostly those inside the country, but the SCNS, on the ground that the Constitution does not allow private radio and televisions in Iran, refused to issue authorisation to Mr. Karroubi, the owner of the network.
“They (the authorities) say we must have authorisation from the Islamic Guidance Ministry and also that according to the Constitution, we can not operate a private television, but does the Constitution applies to the whole world? That if someone wants to create a television anywhere in the world, it must be state-owned?”, he asked, explaining that Mr. Larijani, for his decision, had asked members of the Council of the Guardians to provide “interpretation” for the article of the Constitution banning privately-owned radio and television stations in Iran.
“Not only what he (Mr. Larijani, a former Head of the State-owned, leader-controlled Voice and Visage (Radio and Television) of the Islamic Republic (VVIR) is illegal, but I’m sure that he acted on his own interpretations and not those of the honourable Guardians, who are experts in matter of the Constitution”, added Mr. Karroubi, one of the most trusted “sons” of Grand Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and founder of the Islamic Republic.
Confirming a statement made earlier by Mr. Behrouz Afkhami, the Televison’s Executive Director who bitterly regretted Mr. Larijani’s decision and his intention to take the case to the Judiciary, Mr. Karroubi said “would Mr. Larijani stop any high-ranking cleric making propaganda for Islam and defending the faith of the Prophet in the United States or Europe via television? Would he say it is against the Constitution? These people are depriving us even from God’s space”, he lamented, assuring that if the authorities would allow his television station go on air, it would “quickly over take the official Iranian Radio and Television”.
He also revealed that he and the Saba’s personnel, including Mr. Afkhami, a film maker who is now directing a documentary on the life of Grand Ayatollah Khomeini have bee subject of “frequent insults, threats, humiliation, vicious campaign of character assassination.
While “Baztab”, an internet “news and views” site that belongs to Mr. Mohsen Reza’i, the Secretary of the Expediency Council says the ban on Saba was decided by the judiciary on a request from the VVIR, the radical daily “Keyhan”, a mouthpiece of Mr. Khameneh’i blamed the United States for the action against Mr. Karroubi.
In an article published by the newspaper on Wednesday 28 December 2005, Mr. Hoseyn Shari’atmadari, an intelligence officer appointed by Mr. Khameneh’i as the Executive Editor of the publication said after the United States discovered that Saba Television belongs to one of the most respected personalities of the Islamic Republic and a strong advocate of the Islamic Revolution, it ordered the owners of “Hot Bird”, the satellite firm that airs many radio and television channels across the world, including several Iranian stations beaming anti-regime programmes towards Iran to stop broadcasting Saba.
Not able to deliver the generous promises he had pledged for his constituency, Ahmadi Nezhad has no cards but create tensions and adopt a belligerent attitude.
“From the outset, all trusted and close friends of Mr. Karroubi, including this writer begged him to renounce his decision, warning him friendly that creating such television station not only is anti-revolutionary, but also would place him among the enemies of the Islamic Revolution and take him out of the circle of Emam Khomeini’s sons, but unfortunately he stubbornly refused”, Mr. Shari’atmadari said, adding that the Unite Arab Emirates’ firm that was supposed to broadcast Saba’s programmes had told Hot Bird owners that the Station is against the Iranian clerical led theocracy.
However, the roots of the SCNS’s decision are much deeper and less complicated: the second runner after Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in the first round of last presidential elections, Mr. Karroubi found himself behind Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad, thanks to the last minute but massive mobilisation of the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij militias, acting on orders from Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, the leader of the Islamic Republic, whom Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad, the former Mayor of Tehran, considers as his master and mentor.
An outspoken moderate cleric, Mr. Karroubi did not hesitate to protest the results and went as far as naming one of the sons of Mr. Khameneh’i for having actively taken side for his father’s protégé.
Against all odds and to everyone’s expectations, in the second round of the vote taking, Ahmadi Nezhad the outsider crushed the wealthy, powerful and influential Hashemi Rafsanjani by a large margin, partly because of a strategic miscalculation by the reformists who had urged their supporters to vote for the former president and this despite the fact that during the campaign, they had denounced Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani for his nepotism and corruption.
“Not able to deliver the generous promises he had pledged for his constituency, the poor, the illiterate, the villagers and peasants as well as the workers and deprived, Ahmadi Nezhad has no cards but create tensions and adopt a belligerent attitude, as seen by his uncompromising policy on the controversial nuclear issue, anti-Western, anti-Semite, anti-Israeli statements on the international front and banning western music from Radio and Television, production and distribution of movies with so-called feminist, liberalist and secularist themes, crackdown on the press, tightening of censorship, vicious attacks on the old guard and traditional political personalities like Hahemi Rafsanjani, Karroubi or popular and moderate figures as former president Hojjatoleslal Mohammad Khatami”, commented a political analyst in Tehran asking for anonymity.
In fact, on the decision of the SCNS, newspapers were banned from printing news about the crash of an ageing US-made C-130 Hercules military plane in Teheran on 6 December in which 84 journalists died. It has also forbidden the media to mention the country’s nuclear capacity as well as the unprecedented strike, last Sunday, by all the personnel of Tehran’s Bus Company, including its 2.000 drivers.
Like all other key institutions of the Islamic Republic, the SCNS is controlled by Ayatollah Khameneh’i and is chaired by President Ahmadi Nezhad. ENDS SABA TV BANNED 281205