Iran State TV Cuts House-Arrest References From Rouhani Film

  • Images of reformist politicians removed before broadcast
  • Campaigning in full swing as Rouhani seeks second term May 19

Iran’s state broadcaster removed audio from President Hassan Rouhani’s first election campaign film, apparently to prevent viewers from hearing references to a former prime minister currently under house arrest, the semi-official Iranian Labour News Agency reported.

Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) showed the 24-minute video at 6:30 p.m., local time, as scheduled. However, editing was evident in the audio and video of the film’s opening sequence, in which Rouhani’s supporters are shown cheering for him at a conference.

Mousavi, from left, Karroubi, and Khatami.

Source: Getty Images

According to ILNA, references to former reformist President Mohammad Khatami and the house arrests of two reformist politicians were removed by the state broadcaster. Ex-Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, and former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi have been under house arrest or had their movements restricted since 2011.

Rouhani’s official election campaign channel on the widely used mobile messaging application Telegram said two clips were removed by IRIB before it broadcast the video on its Channel One station.

Iran’s Economy, the Nuclear Deal and the Election

In one clip released by the campaign and shared on social media, a crowd of supporters can be heard chanting “Long live Rouhani! Eternally Mousavi!” The latter has been under house arrest since 2011 following widespread protests in response to the 2009 presidential election, in which the conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad secured a second term.

A second clip put out by both ILNA and the Telegram channel showed footage of Rouhani speaking at a past event, saying “we filed a complaint with the judiciary, and we hope they see to it. We can at least hope.” The statement has been widely seen as the president suggesting that Iran’s judiciary, which is separate from the government, isn’t fulfilling its responsibilities.

The state broadcaster, which is seen to be closely aligned with conservatives and hardliners, rarely mentions the opposition leaders. Two years ago, authorities started banning the media from publishing Khatami’s image.

The decision to remove the references comes two weeks ahead of an election where many supporters of Mousavi and Karroubi, who are accused by Iran’s state security of leading a “seditious” movement inside Iran, are expected to vote for Rouhani.

Iranians head to ballot boxes on May 19 to deliver their verdict on Rouhani’s first term. He faces five challengers, including hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi and the mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf. Each candidate will have the chance to broadcast two half-hour documentary-style videos before polling day.

Rouhani’s opponents have attempted to attract working-class and rural-poor voters, attacking the president for failing to convert the 2015 nuclear deal -- which ended Iran’s economic isolation -- into tangible benefits for ordinary people.

In the campaign video, Rouhani focuses on the achievements of the nuclear agreement, Iran’s re-emergence on the international stage, environmental improvements in its drought-ridden wetlands and lakes, and the importance of women in society. It ends by urging Iranians to “continue the journey” with him.

— With assistance by Ladane Nasseri

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