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memri
October 6, 2008 No.
2073

Liberal, Conservative Iranian Journalists Clash on Al-Jazeera TV

Following are excerpts from a debate between Iranian journalists and political analysts Mashallah Shams Al-Waizeen and Hassan Hanizadeh, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on September 24, 2008.

To view this clip on MEMRI TV, visit http://www.memri.org/legacy/clip/1870.

"The Passage of Information In Iran Is Greatly Obstructed"

Mashallah Shams Al-Waizeen: "There is a serious regression in Iranian media, particularly in the free press. Statistics point to the shortcomings - and indeed, the failure - of President Ahmadinejad and his government in managing the media in Iran. Many Iranian newspapers have been shut down during President Ahmadinejad's term in office - 25 newspapers and journals have been shut down. The passage of information in Iran is greatly obstructed. The Western media in Farsi has gained much popularity among Iranian viewers. Many people in Iran watch American TV, I'm sad to say. As a journalist, I have never seen what I see today." [...]

"The Judiciary Restrained... [Journalistic] Newcomers"

Hassan Hanizadeh: "People often say that in the days of President Khatami, Iranian society entered a period of futile media turmoil, a juvenile period. Some enthusiastic young people stepped into the media fray, and began to violate taboos: They directed all types of insults against the pillars of the Islamic Revolution, against the fighters, and even against people disabled in the Iran-Iraq war. Therefore, the judiciary restrained these people, who were newcomers to the media fray..."

Shams Al-Waizeen: "Newcomers?!"

Hanizadeh: "Yes."

Shams Al-Waizeen: "I'm a newcomer? I've been a journalist for 30 years."

Moderator: "Excuse me... Excuse me..."

Shams Al-Waizeen: "I've been a journalist for 30 years. What about you?"

Hanizadeh: "I have been a journalist for 35 years."

Shams Al-Waizeen: "Yeah, right."

Moderator: "It's over. He is one up over you..."

Hanizadeh: "[Not] A Single Newspaper [Was] Shut Down During Ahmadinejad's Term"... Al-Waizeen: "25 Newspapers Were Shut Down"

Hanizadeh: "How come we haven't seen a single newspaper being shut down during Ahmadinejad's term in office?"

Shams Al-Waizeen: "25 newspapers were shut down. I'm speaking on behalf of the Association for the Defense of Freedom of the Press."

Hanizadeh: "And I'm speaking on behalf of the Islamic Association of Journalists, of which I am vice president."

Shams Al-Waizeen: "That's a governmental institution."

"Iranian Society Is In Need of... Media that Respects the Views of the People, As Well As of the Government and Its Functioning"

Moderator: "Mr. Shams Al-Waizeen, you cannot be heard without a microphone. Without a microphone, your voice comes out distorted."

Hanizadeh: "I am presenting my point of view. Iranian society is in need of media characterized by honesty - media that respects the views of the people, as well of as the government and its functioning. Unfortunately, this was not the case during President Khatami's term in office."

Shams Al-Waizeen: "The media was not honest? You are making accusations."

Hanizadeh: "No, I am not making accusations. The juvenile media..."

Shams Al-Waizeen: "You are accusing a group of journalists of being dishonest. First admit that you are making accusations, and then I will respond to you."

Hanizadeh: "These are not accusations. I'm presenting the reality, as a journalist, who has worked in this field more than anyone else."

"175 Newspapers Have Been Shut Down by the Iranian Judiciary - All... Were Free [and] Independent"

Moderator: "Please pass the microphone over to Mr. Shams Al-Waizeen. You have one minute."

Shams Al-Waizeen: "I am asking brother Hanizadeh... Obviously, I don't recognize him as a journalist."

Moderator: "Please, you can't..."

Shams Al-Waizeen: "No, I don't recognize him... Professionally speaking..."

Moderator: "You are getting us into personal and legal issues."

Shams Al-Waizeen: "True, but..."

Moderator: "He is a journalist, and you are a journalist."

Shams Al-Waizeen: "There are official statistics that indicate what goes on in the media. 175 newspapers have been shut down by the Iranian judiciary. All these newspapers were free, independent newspapers, which belonged to known political parties with a specific political affiliation."