Iranian Foreign Ministry: Most of the news coverage regarding Iran came from "Zionist sources."
By RACHELLE KLIGER / THE MEDIA LINE
The Iranian Foreign Ministry is accusing Arab media of taking sides with critics of the regime in Teheran.
"Some of the Arab newspapers in the region have turned into official spokesmen for the Iranian opposition and we're facing media permissiveness that's fueling the flames of animosity and hypocrisy," Hassan Qashqavi, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry told the official Mehr news agency.
Qashqavi said most of the news coverage regarding Iran came from "Zionist sources."
Iranian officials have been critical of Saudi media outlets, in particular the pan-Arab Al-Arabiyya satellite station based in Dubai.
Dr. Sami Al-Faraj, President of the Kuwait Center for Strategic Studies, said there were elements of truth to the accusations.
"I think that to some extent it's true with regard to the Sunni and Arab world," he told The Media Line. "The bulk of the media in the Arab world, including the Gulf, is basically with the reformist movement."
"They see that there is a general abhorrence to the extent of Iranian intervention in Arab affairs," Faraj said, citing Iran's involvement in the fighting between Israel and Hamas and its alleged interference in Iraqi politics ahead of the upcoming elections.
Hassan Heidar, managing editor of London-based Al-Hayyat, said such claims were "unfounded."
"In the conception of the Iranian regime, if you're not with them, you're against them," Heidar said. "I think the official Iranian point of view was well-detailed in our newspaper but we cannot withhold information from our readers because of the reaction of the regimeâ€¦ I think that as usual, it's propaganda."
In mid-June Iranian authorities closed down Al-Arabiyya's offices in Tehran for a week amid violent demonstrations against the results of the presidential elections.
In the largest protest movement since Iran's 1979 revolution reformists took to the streets to protest the results of the elections.
Supporters of the reformist candidates, principally Mir Hossein Moussavi, said the elections were rigged.
No explanation was given for suspending Al-Arabiyya's offices, which effectively prevented them from broadcasting from Iran during the height of violence.
Some foreign correspondents were also forced to leave the country in an attempt to control the flow of information in the post-election unrest. Local media was censored and several Iranian journalists arrested.
Some believe that Iran plans to launch a media campaign of its own against countries which it sees as taking sides with the opposition.
Iran has a discordant relationship with the Arab Sunni world, as Iran is non-Arab and most Iranians adhere to the Shi'ite brand of Islam. Many of the Sunni countries are concerned about Iran's support for Shi'ite groups within their territories.
Sunni Arab countries are also unhappy about Iran's controversial nuclear program and fear the prospect of a nuclear powered Iran, which could tip the military balance in the region.
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