In Wake of Unrest, Britain Replacing U.S. as Iran’s ‘Great Satan’

In every Iranian crisis, the BBC has come in for blame, perhaps in part because of its history in Iran. “BBC Persian service has a very specific position in Iran — it was created in 1941 to help with the overthrow of Reza Shah,” Ansari said. By the late 1970s, however, “it played a role that was at odds with the British government. . . . It gave Khomeini a lot more airtime than they thought was useful or helpful,” he said, referring to the late ayatollah and leader of the revolution. Still, many in Iran find it hard to separate the BBC from the British government. The station’s popularity there has stoked suspicion, as has its recent introduction of Farsi-language satellite television service. “Because the BBC is seen as having been so important during the revolution, with the fact that the BBC is opening a new channel of communication, there’s a feeling that perhaps the BBC is gearing up for a new revolution,” said Dick Davis, a professor of Persian at Ohio State University. Ervand Abrahamian, a history professor at the City University of New York’s Baruch College, agreed, adding that by blacking out local media now as in 1978, today’s rulers “are doing the same thing the shah was doing.” >>>

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