Propaganda in Iran

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

Most citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran have may anti-American thoughts, practices, and tendencies. Several men, women, and even young children have been disposed to see America in a negative light. Reasons for this despise are endless, but a strong sense of religion and government control guide and feed propaganda that is used to glorify the Iranian culture, as well as raise anti-American feelings. Propaganda can be disseminated through any medium, television, film, newspaper, posters, murals, political actions, rallies, violence, and websites.

a. Iran is an exceedingly enclosed country when it comes to outsider media. The country has one of the worlds most advanced censorship platforms ran by the government, allowing only certain publications to be printed, broadcast, or shown otherwise. Since the Islamic regime is an extreme and radical culture, the government does about anything and everything to support and idolize Islam practices. Religion is highly regarded in the Iranian society, so the government, as well as outside private entities, use propaganda such as newspapers, advertisements, rallies, violence, social media, and television to manipulate and influence Iranian citizens. Golkar, the author of Captive Society: The Basij Militia and Social Control in Iran, says, “The Islamic Republic of Iran has relentlessly tried to shape and manipulate the Iranian people’s perceptions in order to adjust their behavior.” [1] Iranian’s were obviously not pre-disposed to be against American culture, but due to their strong religious ties, as well as heightened pressures that encourage radicalized Islam by the Government, terrorist organizations, the Basij, and Jihadists, Many Iranians have been manipulated by propaganda.

in The Islamic Republic of Iran is also about the information that is not broadcast to the masses due to censorship.

Presidential Propaganda in Iran

Censorship in Iran

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]

Iran has one of the most enforced censorship policies. Every media source and news publication goes through the government. Since the government has this control, very little is shown from the outside world, as most power for relaying information and entertainment is through the government sponsored groups, such as the Basij.[3]


Religion plays a big role in the citizen’s mindsets and actions against the United States. 99% of Iranian’s are Muslim, which are followers of the Islamic religion. Extremists in the Muslim culture that radicalize Islamic ideals are called “Jihads”.[4] These Radical Muslims are to believe that basically any religion or idea in opposition or not agreeing with Islam is wrong. They use religion as incentive to want to kill Americans, and have created an anti-American campaign in the middle-east, especially in Iran. In a book by Ruth Stein called For love of the Father: A Psychoanalytic Study of Religious Terrorism, the New York University professor quotes the writings of Ibn Taymiyya, an Islamic Scholar, says that “Jihad involves absolute love for that which Allah has commanded and absolute hatred for that which He has forbidden, and so whom He loves and who love Him is ‘…lowly with the Believers, mighty against the Rejecters, fighting in the way of Allah and never afraid of the reproaches of such as find fault.’”[1] In an article about state sponsors of terrorism

Iran is said to have the government that most supports and aids terrorist groups. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "Iran has been the country that has been in many ways a kind of central banker for terrorism in important regions.” [5] With the powers of both the government and terrorist organizations, it is nearly inevitable that the country’s citizens are going to be disposed and susceptible to radical ideas. These ideas are spread through propaganda, with messages quoted from the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam. In addition to physical advertisements, posters, or television programs that exaggerate certain verses from the Qur'an, Jihads have taken their tactics to cyberspace. What some call “E-Jihads,” or Jihads using the internet’s social media platforms to propagate their views, are flourishing in middle eastern countries, as the internet has become more common.[6] With such a controlling government and strong advocacy groups, Islamic religion in Iran is extremely radicalized. Media in television and online, as well as most other forms of composition in Iran, are aimed to venerate the Islamic religion.



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


Teheran 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.

Teheran US embassy propaganda statue of liberty


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.[7]\


Terrorist groups generally follow extremist ideals, and encourage others to do the same through mediums of propaganda. These radical principles have led to anti-American tendencies. Iran is associated with several terrorist groups, whose goal is to bring wrath and death among Americans. Although Iran has refuted any allegations of having involvement with terrorist groups such as Al- Qaeda, the Taliban, or the Islamic State, there are several incidences that have involved terrorist groups working out of Iran.

One main belief of the Islamic religion is self-sacrifice. According to the Qur'an, self-sacrifice for one’s religion is a guaranteed route to an eternal and prosperous afterlife.[8] Suicidal attacks against America are an act for their religion, as well as acting as a form of propaganda. They encourage violence against the U.S., as these malicious acts are posed as acts of bravery and self-sacrifice for Islam.

“Terrorism is a language of symbolic action” [9]

Acts of terrorism have been used as propaganda, symbolizing bravery and patriotism for Muslims, and symbolizing fear and peril to the rest of the world. Recently, terrorism does much more than serve as symbolic propaganda since the rise of social media.

Judicial system of Iran

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.[10][11]

The Basij

The Basij are the local and grass root 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."[12] The Basij is a powerful militia group in Iran, formed by citizens to protect Iran from any threat or problem coming from both in and out of the country. The Basij has five branches, with broad duties. Basically, the group’s mission is to protect the county by maintaining order and promoting Islamic values.

This group is a huge advocator of hostilities towards America.[13] The Basij works to “enforce ideological and Islamic values and combating the Western cultural onslaught.” [13] This group is run and funded by the government, which encourages the members to propagate Islamic Ideals through cyberspace and physical protests.

“The use of the Basij as a propaganda machine began in earnest after the reformists came to power in 1997” [1]

The Basij has been a key tool under the government of Iran, fully utilizing the militia to spread Islamic ideology. Golkar goes into depth about the branches and sub-groups of the Basij, and how membership spans across all ages, and all Iranian institutions in practically every town.

The Clerics and Islamic Students’ Basij organization, one of the many organizations under the Basij, originated the “Rhetoric Plan.” This plan targets students with propaganda skills.

“These students are then dispatched across the country to spread the regime’s ideology. Especially among the more religious and conservative parts of the population” [1]

A video shown to Basij members showed several anti-American messages:

Naqdi says “In every field in which the Islamic Republic of Iran tries to advance, America is there to create obstacles for us. When we want progress in science, they enforce sanctions and kill to our scientists” [14]

This information is obviously false seeing it from American’s perspective, but for all the Iranians know, this information must be true if the Government and Basij are saying so. This example shows exactly how anti-American propaganda is getting out, as well as showing that most of the information being said is false or extremely exaggerated. With the main orators of anti-American propaganda being the government or government supported groups, in combination with the extreme censorship of outsider media within the country, it is easy to see how easily the Iranian citizens are manipulated.

“As long as America exists, we will not rest,” says Naqdi, “In revealing the truth about America and the Zionists, we must raise public hate against the despotic powers and create the environment for the destruction of America” [14]

The Media Basij Organization

This organization recruits Iranian writers and media specialists to refute western ideologies. They have their own TV stations, News channels, and Radio broadcasts which are constantly encouraging and feeding extreme Islam beliefs into their listener’s and viewer’s minds. The head of Iran’s Basij paramilitary force says his country has no choice but to destroy America in order to build an ideal society.The Basij is in charge of several outputs of Islamic propaganda. One of their duties is to convince families that do not agree with Islam values to follow what the Basij advocates. 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.[15][16]

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."[17] 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.”[18]


The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, a special unit within the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran has practiced for Psychological Operations against military targets.[19] 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."[20]


Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting

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.[21][22] 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.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting is the main rhetor of news. The network is known to propagate its media, usually being where all propaganda originates.

Since the government has full control of what is being produced and broadcast, it is extremely easy to manipulate the audience—one big reason why so many of Iran’s citizens have anti-American feelings. A recent example of video propaganda is a video titled "Satan’s Confessions,” a propaganda video showing all of America’s faults. This film was released in 2015 by Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. The title comes from the main message of the video, being that the United States is the “Great Satan.” [23] The contents of the video are easily comparable to videos released by the Islamic State terror group. The video includes many clips of statements from U.S. officials, being used completely out of context. The ending of the video is a direct and malicious threat against the United States. Khamenei says in his own words,

“I want to give a word of advice to these American statesmen. I would like to say that you are making a mistake in present time too, and particularly towards the Islamic Republic and the people of Iran. In a few years, someone else will turn up and show you your mistakes.” [24]
A mural in Iran showing the yellow Hezbollah flag, and a quote from Ayatollah Khomeini which says: "Israel must be destroyed."

Conferences and Lectures

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.[25][26]

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."[27] 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.[28][29][30] It was quite successful as well because the United Nations endorsed the meeting and sent a delegation to partake in the event.[30] 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."[31]

Cyber Police

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[32] 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[33]". 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.[34] 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”.[35]

Iranian Propaganda Abroad

United States

U.S.-Iran relations

Since the 1950s, relations between Iran and the U.S. have been a rollercoaster. Throughout history, relations have typically been rough. Despite the obvious religion barrier, there have been several futile acts originating from other root causes apart from religion. From the CIA’s overthrow of the country’s prime minister in 1953, to shooting down Iranian commercial airplane in 1988, Iran is not a huge fan of the United States. Even in present-day America, the U.S is still acknowledging the futile relationship with Iran, as George Bush denounced Iran as an “axis of evil” in his 2002 Union address.[36] Although Americans are often blinded at the fact that we are, too, manipulated by media and propaganda about the middle east, and in this case, Iran. This speech can be seen as a form of propaganda, calling out Iran as an “evil.”

Despite these hostile tensions, along with many other issues throughout the years, both countries have recently regained communications. In 2010, there was a phone conversation between the President of the United States and the President of Iran, which was made monumental because this was the mark of the first time both countries powers have talked in over 30 years.[37] The conversation was about the Iranian nuclear program, which both presidents agreed upon the importance of controlling. Although this conversation was brief, it shows that there is some sort of peace between both countries.

Despite what terms the U.S. is on with Iranians president, the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, makes the Presidents power look worthless. As the Supreme leader, as well as a Muslim Cleric, Khamenei’s feelings towards the U.S. are very hostile, as well as extremely contagious and potent. The government holds most of the responsibility for the anti-American brainwashing going on in Iran today. They control everything that is said and spread anywhere in Iran. The Iranian government has immense power and control over its citizen’s minds, as they control and monitor everything it’s citizens are exposed to.

The U.S says that Iran is an “active state sponsor of terrorism.”

Alavi Foundation

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.[38] Some of the tenants of the foundation's properties are Islamic centers and schools.[39]

See also


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  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. Rahimi, Babak. "Censorship and the Islamic Republic: Two Modes of Regulatory Measures for Media in Iran." The Middle East Journal 69.3 (2015): 78
  4. Habeck, Mary R. Knowing the enemy: Jihadist ideology and the war on terror. Yale University Press, 2006: 163
  5. Bruno, Greg. "State Sponsors: Iran." Council on Foreign Relations, 13 Oct. 2011. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.
  6. Chen, Hsinchun, et al. "Uncovering the dark Web: A case study of Jihad on the Web." Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 59.8 (2008): 1347-1349
  8. Iqbal, Muzaffar. "Muslims and Western Studies Of The Qur'ān: The Qur'ān In The Contemporary World." Islam & Science (17037603) 8.2 (2010): 111-128
  9. Matusitz, Jonathan Andre. Terrorism & communication: A critical introduction. Loa Angeles: Sage, 2013: 1
  10. 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.
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  14. 1 2 Kahlil, Reza. "Iranian Military Commander: We Must Destroy America." The Daily Caller. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.
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  19. FARS News Agency (20 November 2010). "Iran Uses Psychological Operations in Massive Air Drills" (Website). Retrieved 2011-11-17.
  21. Moaveni, Azadeh (22 June 2009). "State Television Becomes a Focus for Iranian Anger". Time.
  22. Taheri, Amir (June 8, 2010). "Propaganda War Latest: Tehran 3 Israel 0". The Times (London) (Newspaper).
  23. 1 2 "Iran's Propaganda Purveyors". CBS News.
  24. Khamenei News. "Satan's Confessions." YouTube. YouTube, 01 Nov. 2015. Web.
  25. BBC (25 September 2007). "Iran president in NY campus row" (Web Page). BBC. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
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  30. 1 2
  31. Voice of America. "Iranian Government Holds Terrorism Conference". Voice of America. Retrieved 12/1/2011. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  32. Jailed Blogger Not Tortured Before Death, Iran Says| By THOMAS ERDBRINK |November 12, 2012
  33. Wan, William (29 October 2011). "Iran cyber police cite U.S. threat". The Washington Post.
  34. Erdbrink, Thomas (October 29, 2011). "Iran cyber police cite U.S. threat". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
  35. Head of Tehran’s Cybercrimes Unit Is Fired Over Death of Blogger| By THOMAS ERDBRINK|| 1 December 2012
  36. Maraniss, David, and Robert Samuels. "The 4th Best State of the Union Address: “Axis of Evil”." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 25 Jan. 2014. Web.
  37. Mason, Jeff. "Obama, Iran's Rouhani Hold Historic Phone Call." Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 28 Sept. 2013. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.
  38. Farrell, Michael. "What's known about Iran-linked Alavi Foundation?". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 12/1/2011. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  39. 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: |access-date= (help)
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