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Iran reformists launch Norooz website on 10th anniversary of Khatami’s election

BBC Monitoring

Norooz news website (http://norooznews.ir/) was officially launched on 23 May 2007, the 10th anniversary of Mohammad Khatami's surprise, landslide election as president.

    Rooz electronic daily, based in London, carried an article on the launching of the new website on the same day. The Rooz article said: "On the 10th anniversary of 2 Khordad [23 May 1997], Norooz news website, which is close to the Islamic Iran Participation Front, has begun work. The website's logo resembles the logo of Norooz newspaper, which was banned during the second term of Seyyed Mohammad Khatami's presidency. In this way, three years after the closing down of Rooydad website, which was a news site that was considered to be close to the reformist Participation Front party, Norooz will, in a way, replace it."

    Rooz added that the new website's editor in chief was Hanif Mazru'i "a journalist who spent more than 90 days in a solitary cell in the summer of 2004 in the course of the detentions known as the 'websites and bloggers' case' because of his involvement in Rooydad website." (Hanif Mazru'i is the son of Rajabali Mazru'i, a reformist former Majlis deputy.)

    On its first day, the main story on Norooz website's homepage was about a speech delivered by former President Khatami on the eve of the 10th anniversary of his election. The story included a big photo of Khatami and the headline: "Khatami: Power does not mean the world should fear us; we should, rather, do something to make the world respect us."

    The homepage also included several dozen news items and commentaries by well-known reformists including: Abbas Abdi, Rajabali Mazrui'i, Karim Arghandepur, Hamidreza Jala'ipur and Mas'ud Behnud. The homepage also provided links to an English-language section, a news archive, an archive of (party) statements, "the secretary-general's interviews" (the current secretary-general of the Participation Front is former Majlis Deputy Mohsen Mirdamadi), and a "contact us" link for sending emails to the site.

    In the "About US" section, the editor in chief's note said among other things: "We have started a road which we hope to continue, so that by reporting events, we can play an albeit small role in the country's ongoing media movement... Norooz, like its predecessor [the banned daily], is affiliated to the Islamic Iran Participation Front, but will not play the role of party organ. We will try, by covering all news developments in the sphere of reform and reformism, to take a stride towards the dissemination of information about this front, which is active in the country's political arena.

    "Norooz will be published in both Persian and English and - in view of our limited resources - the news coverage will not have a very extensive reach, although we will do our utmost to provide maximum coverage."

    The editor in chief (Hanif Mazru'i) ended his note by emphasizing the website's interest in interaction with its visitors/users through emails, the answering of visitors' questions and conducting opinion polls on topical issues.

    The launching of Norooz website was also reported on Hanif Mazru'i's personal blog (http://hanif.ir/). In a post on 23 May, Hanif Mazru'i wrote on his blog: "From today, the Norooz news website officially begins work. This news website has been loading news items for about a week with the aim of officially beginning work, and 2 Khordad was the date that we decided on for its official launch."

    In his post, Hanif Mazru'i added that Norooz was a news and analysis website, which would try to work in a "mature" way "despite its limited resources". Mazru'i also invited like-minded bloggers to advertise the new website on their blogs and said he welcomed their views on the site.

    Source: BBC Monitoring research in English 23 May 07



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