Iran ruling encourages appetite for TV dishes

IN AN unprecedented move, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian spirtual leader, has ruled that satellite television dishes are legal 'provided the programmes received (by dishes) are not corrupting', writes Safa Haeri.

The announcement clashes with the position of Mohammad Ali Araki, 106, a grand ayatollah and Iran's most senior religious authority. In a fatwa, or religious decree, the grand ayatollah had condemned the use of satellite receivers for the community. As a result, there have been sporadic clashes between the basij, a volunteer force made up of young, illiterate peasants and owners of the offending dishes.

The question of authorising the use of the receivers is the subject of a cabinet debate, with the Interior Ministry due to make a decision.

Some Iranian newspapers have openly voiced support for their legalisation and one, Abrar, commented: 'there is no way to stop people getting foreign programmes on their television sets. Soon, there will be (dishes) as small as a hand's palm . . . Then how can one suppress them?'

In a letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, technical staff at the Iranian radio and television corporation complained that, following Grand Ayatol lah Araki's fatwa, radical elements at the organisation had started vandalising the huge satellite dishes used by the state broadcasters to receive foreign transmissions.