Election: Woman Registers As Candidate for Iran Presidency

Posted May 8th, 2013 at 9:23 pm (UTC+0)

ثبت نام نامزدهای انتخابات ریاست جمهوری

A woman filed the paperwork Wednesday to be a candidate for president of Iran. Razieh Omidvar, 46, is not the first female in Iran to register as a candidate for the presidency, but no woman has been approved as a final candidate on the ballot over the past three decades.

Iran’s constitution states that the president must be “a political and religious figure (rajul).” Rajul is the Arabic word for “man,” so there have been disputes whether to interpret this word as “figure” or “man.”

Iran’s Guardian Council of the Constitution is responsible for final approval of candidates.  It’s up to this Council to interpret the word “rajul” as stated in law.

Fars News reported that after she filed her registration papers, reporters asked Omidvar if she considers herself a “political-religious figure.”

“I do not answer political questions,” she replied,  but later explained that she has plans to deal with inflation. Iran’s inflation rate has increased dramatically in the past several years and is now reported to be one of the world’s highest.

Her last name “Omidvar” means “hopeful” in Persian which has gained her even more attention on social media.

Presidential Candidate Jet-Skis to Election

Posted May 6th, 2013 at 8:49 pm (UTC+0)
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Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf drove a jet-ski at the opening ceremony of the new man-made lake, “Martyrs of the Persian Gulf,” outside of Tehran.

Ghalibaf is considered a potential candidate for presidency of Iran in balloting set for June 14.

Registration for candidates begins May 7. The Guardian Council then announces the final list of approved candidates on May 23.

Potential candidates, such as Ghalibaf, have already started campaigning unofficially. Another potential candidate is President Ahmadinejad’s long time ally, Esfandiar Rahim Mashei, who started accompanying the president on various provincial trips.

Shift It! Iranian-Californian Style

Posted May 5th, 2013 at 4:15 am (UTC+0)
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The video commercial “Shift It” has gone viral online, with nearly two million hits on YouTube and among Iranian social media users. It features an Iranian-American’s auto transmission business in southern California.

“Hello, my name is Gorgen. Let me help you shift it!”



The commercial was created by Rhett and Link, who approached Gorgen. In addition to his transmission business, Gorgen is a Persian singer and TV host in southern California, home to the largest community of Iranians outside Iran and where many of the diaspora singers and entertainers are centered.

From minute 9:00 in the clip below, the producers talk with Gorgen about their inspiration for the video.


Iranian users appeared to enjoy the video and found it entertaining. Nema, an Iranian-American raised in California, said: “I can’t help but enjoying the video. It actually does make me proud. Think of the symbolic value here – Iranian immigrant, owns his own transmission company, makes a commercial where he integrates Iranian tunes to promote his business and gains popular success and recognition. What’s not to love about that?”


Iran’s Press TV Hires Former Model

Posted May 3rd, 2013 at 6:45 pm (UTC+0)
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Iran’s English language channel, Press TV, has hired former model Edwina Storie as their Australia correspondent. When news of Storie’s new job came out, several Persian language websites published photos of her scantily dressed in various model shoots.

According to Press TV, Storie is suing Australian blogger Andrew Landeryou for publishing her old photos on his blog, Vex News. Press TV says Storie has had “a change in her lifestyle, intellectual transformation.”

Social media users have compared pictures of Storie during her model years to her new look on Press TV. When contacted by Inside Iran, Storie said she would not comment on the story.


Press TV correspondent in Australia, Edwina Storie

Edwina Storie, Press TV correspondent in Australia
Photo: PressTV.ir


International Workers’ Day in Iran

Posted May 2nd, 2013 at 1:10 am (UTC+0)
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International Workers’ Day in Iran passed on Wednesday with one of the most prominent union leaders behind bars. Reza Shahabi is a founding member and treasurer of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, an independent trade union that has been targeted repeatedly by the government. He was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to six years in prison on charges of “collusion against national security,” and “propaganda against the state.”

“There are many reasons why today’s Iranian workers are facing perhaps their toughest challenge in decades,” Faraz Sanei of Human Rights Watch told Inside Iran, emphasizing that “at the heart of the problem is the Iranian government’s refusal to allow workers the right to establish independent trade unions that will allow them to mobilize and speak out against government policies they consider harmful.”

This poster by an anonymous Iranian artist was published Wednesday to mark International Worker’s Day (May 1st).

“For Law, Freedom, Equality… For Reza Shahabi”

Challenges of Blogging on Iran

Posted April 30th, 2013 at 6:49 pm (UTC+0)
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We sat down with Alex Villarreal of Voice of America’s “On Assignment” program to discuss the unique challenges we face in blogging about Iran from a distance. We talked about trying to use social media as a tool to connect to people inside Iran and shed light on issues that are important to Iranians for a global audience.

Watch the interview:


Iranians React to Samsung Blocking App Store

Posted April 27th, 2013 at 3:33 pm (UTC+0)
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As of May 22, Samsung will block access to its app store for users in Iran as part of the company’s efforts to comply with international sanctions against the country.

According to the Associated Press, smartphone and tablet users were sent an email advising them that due to “legal barriers,” they could no longer provide access to the store to users inside Iran. Samsung was one of the few companies to offer Persian language services to mobile users.

Samsung’s Persian language internet store www.samsungcenter.ir

Iranian users on social media have had varied responses to Samsung’s latest move.

Some users have been critical of the decision. One of them was Babak, who wrote: “This is ridiculous. Does this also have dual use?? We pay for their product and they give us an attitude?”

Another user commented: “At least once they should impose sanctions that make the government suffer. So far all sanctions have been against the people.”

Amir reacted by saying: “They can’t sanction us; we will sanction them. There are plenty of mobile companies. You know how much they will lose?”

There were also some who approved of the decision like Sadra: “Thank you Samsung. This is right. The whole world should do the same.”

Others have turned to humor, like Mohamad who wrote: “This is sanctioning the people not the government because Ayatollah Khamenei uses GLX [an Iranian smartphone].”

And Omid who referred to the fact that sanctions are said to be targeted at Iran’s controversial nuclear program and joked: “Of course you can build atomic bombs with Samsung Apps!”



New Video for Iranian Band 127

Posted April 19th, 2013 at 8:48 pm (UTC+0)
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A new video has just been released by Iranian art group KAJART for the song “Rock Entehari (Azizam)” (Suicidal Rock) by popular Iranian band 127.

KAJART is a design studio in Toronto founded by young artists from Iran. Hajar Moradi, a founding member of KAJART told VOA about the video:

“We wanted to create a different video, to bring happiness and hope in this current state of hopeless depression in Iran. We worked on it for few months but enjoyed every moment of it.”

The band 127 was founded in 2001 in Tehran by a group of young music and art students who created an alternative sound through a fusion of Iranian melodies and jazz. The band has described their lyrics as  being about “the frustrations and joys of life, somehow managing to speak of their cultural time and place.”

They performed at the SXSW festivals in 2006 and 2008 and have toured across the United States.  A short documentary about them, “127, An Iranian Band” has appeared on Channel 4 in Britain. They did not get permission from the Ministry of Culture to release their album in Iran and have issued their four albums online.



Mashaie Skips Ahmadinejad’s Ceremony

Posted April 18th, 2013 at 11:58 pm (UTC+0)
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Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, an ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, skipped Thursday’s political gathering at Azadi Stadium to visit the grave of the actress Asal Badii with a group of artists, including the well known actor, Reza Davoudnejad.

Badii, 36, died April 1, and had arranged to donate her organs, a gesture that made her popular among the youth. Mashaei is President Ahmadinejad’s preferred candidate in the upcoming presidential elections. The highly publicized gathering at Tehran’s largest stadium was reportedly attended by 70,000 people. Ahmadinejad’s critics were speculating that the president would use the gathering as an election campaign event for Mashaei.

Social Media users had mixed reactions to the stadium gathering. The popular Facebook page, “Mamlekate Darim,” wrote: Would be great if the cost of today’s ceremony was allocated to earthquake victims in Sistan, Bushehr, and Azarbaijan…

But not all the comments were critical. Facebook user Ali wrote: Regardless of supporting or opposing Mr. Ahmadinejad, today’s 70,000-person event was a success. This 70,000 is not comparable to 70,000 likes on Facebook.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium

Ceremony at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium

Ceremony at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium


US Sanctions Controversial Iranian Businessman

Posted April 12th, 2013 at 9:03 pm (UTC+0)
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The U.S. Government has imposed sanctions on Iranian businessman Babak Zanjani and a network of his affiliated companies around the world.

“Iran has resorted to criminal money laundering techniques, moving its oil and money under false names and pretenses,” Undersecretary David Cohen of the U.S. Treasury Department said in a news release.

In reaction,  Zanjani told Reuters that the sanctions will provide “publicity” for him.

Babak Zanjani (left) with Hassan Mir Kazemi
Photo: Baztab

Babak Zanjani became well known during the recent clash between the Iranian government and parliament chairman Ali Larijani. During a recent session of parliament, President Ahmadinejad played the audio from a secretly recorded video that seemed to implicate the head of parliament’s brother in financial fraud involving Mr. Zanjani’s companies.

Photos of Babak Zanjani then surfaced on social media with Hassan Mir Kazemi in a private jet.  Mir Kazemi’s photo with a handgun had been widely shared on social media during the 2009 post election crackdown.

Hassan Mir Kazemi (left) during the 2009 post election protests in Iran.






Arash Karami is a reporter and social media producer for VOA Persian. He tweets as @thekarami



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