Tehran MP Ali Motahari has said that by boycotting the press exhibition the principlist media have acknowledged that protest and opposition are not off-limits in the Islamic Republic.
A Tehran MP has welcomed as an auspicious phenomenon the boycott by certain principlist media of the 21st edition of the Press and News Agencies Exhibition.
In an opinion piece, Ali Motahari wrote that although such a boycott was unprecedented, it should be viewed as a blessing. Fararu.com on November 14 published Motahari’s analytical piece on boycotting the press event. The following is the translation of the piece in its entirety:
Boycotting the press exhibition – by certain publications and news agencies which stick to the principles of the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist (Velayat-e Faqih) as well as those who always talk about safeguarding the establishment and view any protest as opposition to the core essence of the establishment and even [reject it as an attempt to trigger] regime change – was unprecedented and unnecessary. What they were protesting was not strong enough to warrant a boycott.
Nonetheless, such a boycott was an auspicious phenomenon from one perspective: these individuals who are the pioneers of [obeying] the Leader and protecting the establishment acknowledged that the right to protest has been recognized in the Islamic Republic and that any protest cannot and should not be viewed as a battle against the establishment or an attempt to cause regime change.
Certainly these individuals and groups that have gone into protest mode now realize better [than before] that those who protested the election results back in 2009 were not aiming to bring about regime change. [The individuals and groups can now understand that] the charges against them have no foundation. These charges are merely rooted in the negative thought that basically “protest” does not make any sense in the Islamic Republic and that any protest amounts to opposition to the establishment and the principle of the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist!
Now that the followers of the Leader have taken the lead in protest at part of the establishment’s performance, they need to see that the critics and opponents are entitled to greater latitude as far as protests and expression of opinions are concerned.
If the reformist rivals of these publications and news agencies had been behind the boycott, it is unclear what labels they would have attached to them. Probably they would have been accused of opposition to the establishment, exhilarating the enemy and carrying out the orders of foreigners. And some may have been taken into custody.
Anyway, the decision to boycott should be described as an auspicious boycott, a boycott which is perhaps a turning point in changing the approach of certain principlists toward critique and protest and in softening the tough policies on critics and protesters, including ending the strict treatment of the individuals who were arrested following the post-election riots in 2009 [a reference to Mehdi Karroubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi, two presidential candidates who were placed under house arrest for disputing the election results and stirring unrest in the country].
Note: Fars, one of the agencies that boycotted the event, has since said the decision by some principlist media to stay away from the Press and News Agencies Exhibition has been merely guild-related and drawing an analogy between the boycott and what unfolded in the wake of the 2009 presidential elections is illogical.