PRESS RELEASE: British MP's condemn anti-Iranian media bias

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Embargoed 1st December 2007

A new report published today suggests that the portrayal of Iran in the British print media is overly negative and frequently misleading. Among the key findings of the report are that, in one week from 29th October to 5th November 2007, there were 112 articles that mentioned Iran in the national press and of those 89% were deemed to be "overly negative". The report also found that 45% of articles "contained unsubstantiated, misleading or inaccurate statements about Iran". The report concludes that the culminative effect of repetitive negative or misleading statements is to create "an accepted wisdom on Iran that is not grounded in reality".

The survey, undertaken by the Westminster Committee on Iran, looked at 19 national newspapers in the UK for a week long period. It found that whilst most articles were unbiased and factually-based, 74% contained a sentence or two that rendered the article "overly negative" or "misleading". The most common of these misleading sentences were:

- stating that Iran had threatened "to wipe Israel off the face of the map". In fact the Farsi phrase used by President Amadinejad was "Imam ghoft een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad." This translates directly as "The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time. This statement is very wise". Whatever the interpretation of this translation, "a regime vanishing from the page of time" is very different from a threat to wipe a nation off the map.

- stating that Iran is responsible for supplying weapons and intelligence to terrorists in Iraq. Despite many accusations, no evidence has been produced to link the Iranian government to Iraqi insurgents. General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admitted at a Pentagon news this year that he had no evidence of the Iranian government sending any military equipment or personnel into Iraq.

The report, Iran in the British Print Media, finds that a general impression has been created in the UK media that Iran is acting against the will of the "international community" in continuing to develop a covert nuclear weapons programme. This impression is deemed to be misleading to the extent that there is absolutely no proof that Iran has a nuclear weapons programme. Inspections over the past three years have found no evidence of a nuclear weaponization programme. The idea that Iran is defying the will of the world community ignores the fact that 118 nations of the Non-Aligned have recognise Iran's right for a civilian nuclear technology and 56 nations signed the Baku Declaration which stated "the only way to resolve Iran's nuclear issue is to resume negotiations without any preconditions and to enhance cooperation with the involvement of all relevant parties".

The report follows the recent publication of a major study into the portrayal of Muslims and Islam in the UK print and broadcast media. The report was produced Insted Consultancy was researched by 9 leading academics, professionals from the media industry and experts on Islam, and shows that during the period of investigation the national media overwhelming portrayed Muslims and Islam in a negative way.

The Westminster Committee on Iran aims to increase dialogue and understanding between Tehran and British parliamentarians and avoid military intervention against Iran.

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If you are a British citizen and would like to be involved in this exercise we would invite you to contact you constituency MP and ask them their position with regard to UK support for military action against Iran in the absence of United Nations authorisation. Please send your findings to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Source: Westminster Committee on Iran
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