The neutrality of this article is disputed. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until conditions to do so are met. (January 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

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

Qasem Soleimani killing a crocodile (USA) with Iran's flag

Garth Jowett and Victoria O'Donnell have provided a concise, workable definition of propaganda: "Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist."[1] Propaganda can be disseminated through any medium, television, film, newspaper, posters, murals, political actions, rallies, violence, and websites. Propaganda in The Islamic Republic of Iran is also about the information that is not broadcast to viewers due to censorship.

Censorship in Iran

See also: 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]



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


Tehran 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.


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.[3]

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.[4][5]

The Basij

The Basij are the local and grassroot 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."[6]

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.[7][3]

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."[8] 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.”[9]


The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a special unit within the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran has practiced for Psychological Operations against military targets.[10] 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."[11]

Media of Iran

Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting

Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) 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.[12][13] 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.

Conferences and Lectures

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Columbia University in Fall 2007 was, according to BBC News, an attempt to convince international opinion and the United States population of the rightness of his cause.[15][16]

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."[17] 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.[18][19] It was quite successful as well because the United Nations endorsed the meeting and sent a delegation to partake in the event.[19] 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."[20]

Cyber Police

See also: Internet censorship and Internet censorship by country

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[21] 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[22] ". 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.[23] 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”.[24]

Iranian propaganda abroad

See also: Public diplomacy in the Islamic Republic of Iran


Iranian state-controlled media such as Press TV or Mehr News Agency actively target global audiences in multiple languages, including English, French, or Spanish. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these outlets featured Iranian propaganda criticising democracies' response to the pandemic as weak and hypocritical, promoting the Iranian approach in fighting the outbreak, and spreading conspiracy theories about the origin of the virus.[25] One study by the Oxford Internet Institute [26] found that Iranian outlets were heavily active in spreading conspiracy theories suggesting that the virus may have originated in a military biolaboratory.

In June 2021 the U.S. Justice Department said it seized and took offline 36 websites linked to Iran, "many of them associated with either disinformation activities or violent organizations".[27]

The Arab World

In August 2018, Twitter suspended 770 accounts originating in Iran for engaging in coordinated manipulation [28] In October 2018, Twitter publicly shared data on the 770 accounts on their Election Integrity Hub [29] In a study focusing on the Arab world, the researchers found that more than half of these accounts generated Arabic content to target Arab Twitter users [30] In this study, it was found that the Arabic tweets were not aiming to socially engage with other Arab users but rather to promote certain websites, and more than 69% of the links shared were to pro-Iran Arabic-language news websites [30] The accounts that tweeted in Arabic imitated Arabic local news outlets trying to build credibility in the region [30]

Alavi Foundation

See also: Transnational organization

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.[31] Some of the tenants of the foundation's properties are Islamic centers and schools.[32]

See also


  1. ^ Garth Jowett and Victoria O'Donnell, Propaganda and Persuasion, 4th ed. Sage Publications, p. 7
  2. ^ Rhoads, Christopher (22 June 2009). "Iran's Web Spying Aided By Western Technology". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 2010-11-26. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
  3. ^ a b "Intel Chief: No Link Between $3Bil and Mashaei; IRGC 'Reporter' Training". PBS. Archived from the original on 2018-05-01. Retrieved 2017-09-08.
  4. ^ 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 978-0-520-21866-6.
  5. ^ "Editorials on Voice of America". Voa. Archived from the original on 2022-09-14. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
  6. ^ Aryan, Hossein (5 February 2009). "Pillar Of The State". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Archived from the original on 2016-09-23. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  7. ^ "خبرگزاری فارس - سازماندهی 21 هزار خبرنگار افتخاری در بسیج". 7 October 2011. Archived from the original on 19 October 2011. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
  8. ^ Morozov, Evgeny (30 March 2009). "". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2011-12-14. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
  9. ^ Erdbrink, Thomas (29 October 2011). "Iran Cyber Police Cite U.S. Threat". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2016-03-11. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
  10. ^ "Iran Uses Psychological Operations in Massive Air Drills". FARS News Agency. 20 November 2010. Archived from the original on 9 December 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
  11. ^ "Fars News Agency :: Iran Uses Psychological Operations in Massive Air Drills". Archived from the original on 2011-12-09. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
  12. ^ Moaveni, Azadeh (22 June 2009). "State Television Becomes a Focus for Iranian Anger". Time. Archived from the original on June 24, 2009.
  13. ^ Taheri, Amir (June 8, 2010). "Propaganda War Latest: Tehran 3 Israel 0". The Times (London) (Newspaper).
  14. ^ "Iran's Propaganda Purveyors". CBS News. Archived from the original on 2011-05-24. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
  15. ^ BBC (25 September 2007). "Iran president in NY campus row" (Web Page). BBC. Archived from the original on 2011-02-08. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
  16. ^ Bonifield, Alexandra (October 1, 2007). "Ahmadinejad visit, speech part of propaganda machine". USA Today.
  17. ^ "Fars News Agency :: Tehran Anti-Terror Conference Ends Work with Final Statement". Archived from the original on 2011-07-28. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
  18. ^ "Editorials on Voice of America". Archived from the original on 2011-09-15. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
  19. ^ a b "Group calls on UN to distance itself from controversial Iran conference - UN Watch". UN Watch. Archived from the original on 2012-04-06. Retrieved 2011-11-23.
  20. ^ Voice of America. "Iranian Government Holds Terrorism Conference". Voice of America. Archived from the original on September 15, 2011. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  21. ^ Jailed Blogger Not Tortured Before Death, Iran Says Archived 2017-04-23 at the Wayback Machine| By THOMAS ERDBRINK |November 12, 2012
  22. ^ Wan, William (29 October 2011). "Iran cyber police cite U.S. threat". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2 May 2018. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  23. ^ Erdbrink, Thomas (October 29, 2011). "Iran cyber police cite U.S. threat". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2015-10-01. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
  24. ^ Head of Tehran’s Cybercrimes Unit Is Fired Over Death of Blogger Archived 2019-07-13 at the Wayback Machine| By THOMAS ERDBRINK|| 1 December 2012
  25. ^ Bright, Jonathan; Au, Hubert; Bailey, Hannah; Elswah, Mona; Schliebs, Marcel; Marchal, Nahema; Schwieter, Christian; Rebello, Katarina; Howard, Philip N (2020). "Coronavirus Coverage by State-Backed English-Language News Sources" (PDF). Data Memo 2020.2. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-10-18. Retrieved 2020-11-15. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  26. ^ Rebello, Katarina; Schwieter, Christian; Schliebs, Marcel; Joynes-Burgess, Kate; Elswah, Mona; Bright, Jonathan; Howard, Philip N (2020). "Covid-19 News and Information from State-Backed Outlets Targeting French, German and Spanish-Speaking Social Media Users" (PDF). Project on Computational Propaganda, Oxford, UK, Data Memo. 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-09-19. Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  27. ^ "US has to shut down biowarfare labs to save the world from pandemics". Reuters. 23 June 2021. Archived from the original on 22 June 2021. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  28. ^ "Techcrunch". 2018-08-27. Archived from the original on 2019-10-29. Retrieved 2019-10-29.
  29. ^ Twitter (October 2018). "Enabling further research of information operations on Twitter". Archived from the original on 2019-11-05. Retrieved 2019-10-29. ((cite web)): |last= has generic name (help)
  30. ^ a b c Elswah, Mona; Howard, Philip N.; Narayanan, Vidya (2019). "Iranian Digital Interference in the Arab World". Project on Computational Propaganda. Archived from the original on 2020-08-04. Retrieved 2019-10-29.
  31. ^ Farrell, Michael (14 November 2009). "What's known about Iran-linked Alavi Foundation?". The Christian Science Monitor. Archived from the original on 26 February 2011. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  32. ^ Glovin, David (30 December 2009). "Alavi Foundation Is Iran Front, U.S. Says in Lawsuit (Correct)". Bloomberg News. Retrieved December 1, 2011.