Propaganda in Iran

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Propaganda in Iran originates from the Iranian government and "private" entities, which are usually state controlled.

Garth Jowett and Victoria O'Donnell have provided a concise, workable definition of propaganda: "Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist."[1] Propaganda can be disseminated through any medium, television, film, newspaper, posters, murals, political actions, rallies, violence, and websites. Propaganda in The Islamic Republic of Iran is also about the information that is not broadcast to the masses due to censorship.

Censorship in Iran[edit]

One of the biggest issues Iran is criticized for is censorship. Aided by Western technology from Nokia and Siemens, the Iranian government has created one of the most sophisticated censorship platforms created in modern times.[2]



The defaced Great Seal of the United States in 2004. The Iconoclasm shown is a form of propaganda


Tehran US embassy propaganda gun

The flags of nations are considered propaganda. Not only is the flag itself a representation of propaganda, but the flags of other nations, such as the United States and Israel, are used in Iranian Propaganda. Burning of the U.S. flag and Israeli Flag seem to occur at rallies against each. Flag burning is a propaganda tool, such as burning Effigies of world leaders.


On October 8, 2006, cleric Seyyed Hossein Kazemeini Boroujerdi was arrested for opposing Velaayat-e Faghih, advocating the separation of religion from state, and defending the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[3]\

Judicial system of Iran[edit]

Iranian Justice System has also been known to espouse propaganda. This is especially true in the prison system of Iran where Political prisoners were "incessantly bombarded with propaganda from all sides ... radio and closed-circuit television ... loudspeakers blaring into all cells even into solitary cells and `the coffins` [where some prisoners were kept] ... ideological sessions." Any reading material of a secular nature such as Western novelists, or even religious material that didn't agree ideologically with the Islamic Republic such as work by Ali Shariati was banned.[4][5]

The Basij[edit]

The Basij are the local and grassroot supporters of the Iranian government. "The mission of the Basij as a whole can be broadly defined as helping to maintain law and order; enforcing ideological and Islamic values and combating the "Western cultural onslaught"; assisting the IRGC in defending the country against foreign threats; and involvement in state-run economic projects."[6]

With the IRGC's help and support, Basij members are trained in propaganda and political warfare techniques using media outlets. There are about 21,000 volunteer "reporters" that have trained with the IRGC on multiple waves of communication and media, which include social networks, television, radio, print media, and the internet.[7][3]

According to Reporters Without Borders, "In Iran, the Revolutionary Guards recently announced their ambition to build their own spinternet by launching 10,000 blogs for the Basij, a paramilitary force under the Guards. This comes at a time when the Internet has become a major force in exposing corruption in the highest ranks of the Iranian leadership."[8] As well, cyber-police "are here to create a cyber police force inside the people’s mind,” said Hesamedin Mojtahed, the officer in charge of the booth. “People want to be informed of the dangers on the Internet,” he said. “We are here for them.”[9]


The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a special unit within the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran has practiced for Psychological Operations against military targets.[10] According to Ayatollah Khamenei, "the main priority of the country is to confront (enemy's) soft warfare which is aimed at creating doubt, discord and pessimism among the masses of the people," Ayatollah Khamenei said last year, addressing a large and fervent congregation of Basij (volunteer) forces."[11]

Media of Iran[edit]

Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting[edit]

Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting is the sole, official provider, of broadcast news to both the Iranian people and the rest of the world. IRIB operates many channels in a multitude of languages and is known to broadcast propaganda.[12][13] IRIB is the main hub for which all Iranian propaganda is created, and disseminated, throughout the world. The multiple channels that make up IRIB all have a specific purpose.

  • On every IRIB channel, Israel is referred to as the "Zionist Regime".[14]

Conferences and Lectures[edit]

Ahmadinejad's visit to Cornell was exclusively for propaganda purposes. Ahmadinejad firmly believes he can convince global opinion and the American people of the rightness of his cause.[15][16]

The Islamic Republic of Iran held an anti-terrorism conference which featured representatives from "neighboring countries Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan as well as Sudan, Tajikistan, Mauritania and the Vice-President of Cuba and Ministers and other high-level delegates from 60 States, representatives of the United Nations (Officer in Charge of CTITF), the OIC, and other regional organizations as well as distinguished scholars and researchers and peace activists from all around the world participated in the Conference."[17] With Iran being a state-sponsor of terrorist activities, and many of the nations in attendance, including many of the African representatives, users of terrorism, the anti-terrorism conference is propaganda.[18][19][20] It was quite successful as well because the United Nations endorsed the meeting and sent a delegation to partake in the event.[20] During the event, "Iran's Supreme leader Ali Khamenei took the opportunity to excoriate western nations for "terrorist behaviors," and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expressed his doubts about the September 2001 terrorist attacks on America – outrageously claiming that the U.S has benefited from those attacks, as it has, he added, from the Holocaust."[21]

Cyber Police[edit]

Iran has created a Cyber Police unit in January 2011, known by the acronym FATA. Since then it has arrested several bloggers critical of Iran’s leaders, as well as a group of youths who had created a “hot or not” contest on Facebook rating profile pictures of boys and girls[22] The unit was created to "control which sites Iranians are able to visit, to prevent spying and protect the public from `immoral` material. The United States, they charge, is waging a `soft war` against Iran by reaching out to Iranians online and inciting them to overthrow their leaders[23] ". From the Iranian regime's standpoint, any free information is a threat to power. The internet was a major factor for organizing and showing the world what was happening during the 2009 presidential election. The United States asked Twitter to postpone online maintenance in 2009 so that it would be available for Iranian protesters.[24] On 1 December 2012, General Saeed Shokrian, commander of FATA, was dismissed by Iranian’s national police chief, Ismael Ahmadi-Moqaddam, for negligence in death of blogger Sattar Beheshti while in FATA custody one month earlier. The dismissal followed international outcry over the death. Shokrian stated “Tehran’s FATA should be held responsible for the death of Sattar Beheshti”.[25]

Iranian Propaganda Abroad[edit]

United States[edit]

Alavi Foundation[edit]

The Alavi Foundation is the successor organization to the Pahlavi Foundation, a nonprofit group used by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to advance Iran's charitable interests in America. Most of the charities income is from rent collected on the New York Fifth Avenue skyscraper the Piaget Building, which was built in 1978 under the Shah, who was overthrown in 1979.

The FBI laid out a case against the Alavi Foundation that it was being used as a front group for the Iranian government. It was built in the 1970s by the Pahlavi Foundation to further the interest of then Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.[26] Some of the tenants of the foundation's properties are Islamic centers and schools.[27]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Garth Jowett and Victoria O'Donnell, Propaganda and Persuasion, 4th ed. Sage Publications, p. 7
  2. ^ Rhoads, Christopher (22 June 2009). "Iran's Web SPying Aided By Western Technology: European Gear Used in Vast Effort to Monitor Communications". The Wallstreet Journal. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
  3. ^ a b "Intel Chief: No Link Between $3Bil and Mashaei; IRGC 'Reporter' Training".
  4. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand (16 June 2008). Tortured confessions : prisons and public recantations in modern Iran ([Nachdr.] ed.). Berkeley, Calif. [u.a.]: Univ. of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21866-3.
  5. ^ "Editorials on Voice of America".
  6. ^ "Pillar Of The State". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty.
  7. ^ "خبرگزاری فارس - سازماندهی 21 هزار خبرنگار افتخاری در بسیج". 7 October 2011.
  8. ^ Morozov, Evgeny (30 March 2009). "". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
  9. ^ Erdbrink, Thomas (29 October 2011). "Iran Cyber Police Cite U.S. Threat". Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
  10. ^ "Iran Uses Psychological Operations in Massive Air Drills". FARS News Agency. 20 November 2010. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-12-09. Retrieved 2011-11-18.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Moaveni, Azadeh (22 June 2009). "State Television Becomes a Focus for Iranian Anger". Time.
  13. ^ Taheri, Amir (June 8, 2010). "Propaganda War Latest: Tehran 3 Israel 0". The Times (London) (Newspaper).
  14. ^ "Iran's Propaganda Purveyors". CBS News.
  15. ^ BBC (25 September 2007). "Iran president in NY campus row" (Web Page). BBC. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
  16. ^ Bonifield, Alexandra (October 1, 2007). "Ahmadinejad visit, speech part of propaganda machine". USA Today.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-28. Retrieved 2011-12-01.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Editorials on Voice of America".
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-03. Retrieved 2011-12-01.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ a b "Page not found". UN Watch.
  21. ^ Voice of America. "Iranian Government Holds Terrorism Conference". Voice of America. Retrieved 12/1/2011. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  22. ^ Jailed Blogger Not Tortured Before Death, Iran Says| By THOMAS ERDBRINK |November 12, 2012
  23. ^ Wan, William (29 October 2011). "Iran cyber police cite U.S. threat". The Washington Post.
  24. ^ Erdbrink, Thomas (October 29, 2011). "Iran cyber police cite U.S. threat". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
  25. ^ Head of Tehran’s Cybercrimes Unit Is Fired Over Death of Blogger| By THOMAS ERDBRINK|| 1 December 2012
  26. ^ Farrell, Michael. "What's known about Iran-linked Alavi Foundation?". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 12/1/2011. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  27. ^ Glovin, David (30 December 2009). "Alavi Foundation Is Iran Front, U.S. Says in Lawsuit (Correct)". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 12/1/2011. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)