Highlights from the Iranian Press (March 9-14)

Highlights from the Iranian Press (March 9-14)
The most talked-about issue regarding the election agenda in the past weeks was participation.
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Following the elections in Iran, the agenda has calmed down. With the approach of Nowruz, the country's most significant holiday and festival, a general atmosphere of tranquility has taken hold. As the holiday approaches, newspapers have featured various preparation news, articles on ticket prices, and reports on the law enforcement's plans to ensure safety during the holiday period, alongside the general agenda.

News about Türkiye in the Iranian Press

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's announcement of his "last election" found its place in the Iranian press as well. The statement, covered by many newspapers and websites, was presented to the public in similar texts. The Entekhab news website, with the headline "Erdogan Talks About Leaving Power for the First Time: The Municipal Elections Will Be My Last," reported that "For the first time on Friday, the President of the Republic of Türkiye spoke about leaving power, emphasizing that the municipal elections on March 31 would be 'the last' for him." Furthermore, the President's announcement of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Türkiye and his comments on the balanced politics conducted with both Russia and Ukraine also found a place in the Iranian press.

Aside from these news items, the Donya-e Eqtesad newspaper published an op-ed by Mahmud Fazli titled "The Complexities of Turkish-American Relations," which took a look at Turkish-American relations. The article touched on various issues from the situation in Gaza to Ukraine, the F-35 issue, and Sweden's NATO membership, summarizing the recent developments between Türkiye and the USA and the statements of Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan.

Discontent with Gambling Gangs in Iran

Discontent with Iranian betting companies operating outside Iran's borders also made it to the national press. Last week, Tasnim News Agency reported with the headline "The UK's Most Destructive Financial and Online Gambling Network Destroyed" that "After 14 months of complex intelligence and judicial operations supported by the Central Bank, the largest organized gambling and betting network managed by resources abroad was identified and destroyed. This network, established and managed by underground organizations in the UK, had seized a significant amount of rials and foreign currency through 35,006 accounts and 1,200 rented bank accounts across 54 major gambling and betting sites." The success of the Intelligence Ministry was highlighted, and it was also mentioned that "The corruption of the network in the UK is not limited to financial and money laundering activities. They are also trying to create a media trend to erode Islamic-Iranian values and normalize the culture of gambling in the Iranian Islamic society," emphasizing the "enemy" theme.

A similar operation was also conducted in Türkiye recently. The leader of a betting ring that operated in Iran, Sait Amiri, was captured in Izmir during a police operation named "Cartel-6." The actions taken against these syndicates in Türkiye and the UK show that the security forces of these countries are as committed to addressing this issue as the Iranian intelligence is.

Incident Due to the Hijab

Two weeks ago, in Qom, a woman taking her child to the hospital was secretly photographed by a religious scholar for not adhering to the dress code. When the woman noticed her photo being taken, she confronted the scholar demanding his phone. The dispute that ensued between the scholar, who refused to hand over his phone, and the woman, led to an escalation of events, resulting in the woman having a nervous breakdown. A minor scuffle occurred as the scholar tried to flee from the gathered crowd. This incident became one of the most discussed topics on social media and in the diaspora press last week. The photographing of a woman's disheveled appearance in a hospital corridor and the handling of the incident highlighted the low tolerance for the hijab issue in society, despite a de facto softening by the establishment.

The incident did not escalate further, and the shift to the Nowruz holidays soon moved the topic out of the spotlight. However, to counter the risk of sparking a new Mahsa Amini issue, the Iranian press quickly became involved. The arrests made by the police in connection with the issue were promptly reported, and this topic, too, was often addressed with the "enemy" theme. Additionally, social media users responded to the incident by using the hashtag #IAmShameless, a subject that Hamsheri reported under the title "Harming Oneself with a Hashtag." The article from the outset framed the social media and news reactions to the dispute between a woman and a clergyman in a clinic as being under judicial scrutiny, highlighting the legal aspects. It portrayed the opposition voices as harming themselves by starting a campaign that defends a woman who breaks the law by removing her hijab. This campaign, labeled as both reckless and indecent, showcases another aspect of the groups' approach that goes against civil laws and social norms. The #IAmShameless Twitter campaign is not just an act of self-harm by the opponents of the revolution and opposing elements but also reveals their disregard for the legal and social standards. It supports a woman who insulted a clergyman by removing her hijab, demonstrating both the supporters' acceptance of lawlessness and their lack of decency. The #IAmShameless hashtag is a clear sign of a group's attempt to utilize various immoral methods to create a virtual environment against the Islamic Republic, with the clergyman's actions being implicitly supported to ensure they are not undermined.

The Resurgence of the Water Issue

News related to water continues to intermittently surface in the Iranian press. With the arrival of spring over the last two years, developments on the water front, the status of ongoing projects, and informative public service announcements have gained prominence. Last week, Tasnim published a news item on this topic titled "2 Billion People Live in High-Risk Collapse Zones!" The article reflected the findings of a study, stating, "The results of a new study show that about 2 billion people, equivalent to 25% of the world population, live in areas at high risk of collapse. The withdrawal of underground water is the main cause of soil collapse, with agriculture putting the most pressure on these water sources." In Iran, especially in the Central Plateau, the formation of sinkholes and numerous collapses have been caused by improper water management, illegal and unregistered wells, among other factors. The article subtly notes that "This issue is not unique to Iran," and states, "According to the study, the southern half of the Asian continent has the highest collapse rate, with people in these regions experiencing an average collapse rate of more than 50 millimeters per year."