MEK: The Pope’s Visit to Iraq and the Regime and Iran’s state media’s boycott
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI / MEK Iran), reported that on 5 March, the leader of the Catholic Church Pope Francis went to visit Iraq for 3 days. The international media and leaders of western society called this a historical event, especially the Pope’s meeting with Iraq’s Shiite leader, Ali al-Sistani. However, Iran’s state media and the mullahs completely ignored the event.
Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei’s isolation
The regime was frustrated by Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei’s isolation, according to the state-run daily Etemad, which published an article on 8 March regarding Pope Francis’ visit to Iraq and his meeting with Ayatollah Sistani.
“The meeting with Ayatollah Sistani was considered important as the Shiite counterpart of the Pope. But what were the reactions to this important meeting a thousand kilometers beyond Najaf in Tehran?”
“Pope Francis arrived in Iraq on Friday and received a warm welcome in Baghdad. The day after entering Iraq, he passed through the narrow alleys of Najaf to reach the humble rented house of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. While both humbly put their hands on their knees, they recorded what the world media referred to as a ‘Travel and historical events.’”
The message of peace
In Najaf, Pope Francis met with Ayatollah Ali Sistani. The final comments of the 54-minute meeting showed that the only message that was shared between the two great contemporary religious leaders was the message of ‘peace’.
The fact that the 84 years old catholic leader head to Najad from the Vatican to meet with Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak and in such a restive atmosphere, highlights how important it is for the two religious’ figures, both of whom have massive audiences around the world, to meet.
Another Iranian media organization examined further into radio and television coverage of this event; “news that was widely reported on social media, regional and even trans-regional media.”
Iran’s state media’s boycott the Pope’s visit to Iraq
“Also, no trace of this news was seen in the special news talk show’ or ‘tonight’s headline’ program. In fact, for news that is at least well-known in terms of its newsworthiness and proximity, this attitude of the broadcaster is considered a kind of media boycott and downplaying.”
The rationale for the news boycott, according to Etemad’s outlet, is:
“Some people analyzed the occurrence of this meeting in line with the presence of the Islamic Republic’s advisor in Iraq, and in the context of these analyses and, in the envelope, they pointed out and protested against the Pope, not meeting with Iranian Shiite Marja’ (the title given to the highest level of Shia authority).”
Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani recently refused to meet Ebrahim Raisi
“Except for the media and cyberspace, while the Iranian clergy and high-ranking Marja’ were expected to welcome the Pope and the ayatollah meeting, most of them preferred silence.”
“The pope’s visit ends with his departure from Erbil to Baghdad after meeting with Ayatollah Sistani, who rarely attends political office and Ebrahim Raisi has recently failed to meet with him. A journey where the voice and message of inter-religious peace could have been heard here and among some extremist forces, but it did not happen!”