[Javad Eta’at, reformist politician and university professor, is criticizing the way IRIB is covering the news and taking side with hardliners. He also criticizes how former president Khatami’s speech was attacked by pressure groups.]
Dr. Eta’at criticizes IRIB for using the term Velvet Revolution irresponsibly: I am surprised. You have experts and you know this. For example, another argument that started a couple of years ago. Once I was invited to talk about Velvet Revolution. I told a dear friend on the phone that Velvet Revolution takes place in despotic countries. When you say that they are after Velvet Revolution in Iran, you have accepted the other side of the coin: that Islamic Republic regime does not have free elections. Unwantedly you have accepted it. You say they are after Velvet Revolution. Well if there are free elections, if there is a democratic process, if there is free competition and ballot box determines everything, then why should people want a revolution? Revolutions are not that simple. Throughout several centuries, there might be one revolution, not until the time when people are sick and tired of everything. It makes no difference what kind of revolution we are talking about: violent, soft, velvet, colorful, black, white, red. Any kind of revolution. You are making it sound big. Unwantedly you are saying that Islamic Republic is not free. And because a group of people cannot get their rights, they want to do a velvet revolution. I feel really sorry when I see that in IRIB, they look at issues so superficially.
Dr. Eta’at talks about how IRIB covered another issue: Or for example, when somebody tore Imam’s [Khomeini] picture [during 2009 protests]. It is not clear who. When Imam Khomeini is insulted in this way, TV channels show it many times. Something bad is released millions of times for people [to see]. If that is bad, this is much worse. This is more wrong. Then people see it. Right now, your dear viewers were criticizing the same thing.
Dr. Eta’at criticizes attacking Khatami’s speech on the Day of Ashura: If tearing Imam’s picture is bad—and it is bad—then isn’t insulting Imam’s house bad too? Isn’t it wrong that you when someone like Mr. Khatami—a pious, committed person who I can swear that there is no one like him in his commitment to Islam, the country, the revolution, the people and the constitution—when he wants to give a speech on Ashura’s day, then his speech is disrupted? Are all people supposed to talk like each other? Everybody might have his own reading of Ashura. Mr. Khatami might have his own criticisms—and he does have them. We shouldn’t make some thugs [go and attack his speech]. That is terrible if after 30 years, Islamic Republic is still doing such things.
He asserts that IRIB is taking the side of hardliners: And the TV becomes the speaker of such thoughts and such currents. This is unfortunate. And you mentioned the 9th of Dey [30 December 2009 pro-establishment rally]. I read Mr. Mohsen Rezaee’s statement in this regard today. He has said it beautifully that 9th of Dey doesn’t belong to any group. In this country, all Iranians—Jews, Christians, Shiite and Sunni Muslims—they all respect Imam Hossein and Ashura. If someone—God forbids—has done something wrong on the Day of Ashura, all people are against him. And this is absolutely true. But what I am saying is that if cheering and whistling on the Day of Ashura is wrong, then I swear to God that hitting people is more wrong. Killing people is more wrong. I will read passages from Nahjul Balagha tonight so that you can see how Imam Ali ruled, and how we are ruling. Therefore, 9th of Dey belongs to the whole nation, and it doesn’t belong to a particular group. But IRIB tries to attribute it to a particular group, and say that this was ‘our people.’ If we confiscate all the sanctities, then how can people protest? How can they make their criticisms? How can they protest? These are issues that I think you should pay attention to in your program. Now you mentioned that some people are not ready to come to IRIB. And I was reluctant too. But I said to myself that I should come here and take this opportunity to express my views.
Host says: Of course, I told you before the program.
Dr. Eta’at replies: Yes, before the program started. And let me tell you that the procedure that IRIB is following, is not right. And this should change. If you allow my words to be broadcast, then those friends who see that…. If this atmosphere continues, it will be to the benefit of the country.