More on Radio NZ and Iran

February 24th, 2010 at 4:35 pm by David Farrar

I blogged twice previously on the staff going to radio workshops in . My position was that the Iranian Government was effectively paying for the staff to take part in an event hosted by their in house propoganda arm.

Apart from the issue of accepting the money from the Iranian Government, there was the issue of having a “good” public broadcaster like Radio NZ having its reputation associated with a state controlled broadcaster that doesn’t speak truth to power but instead speaks lies on behalf of those in power.

In the comments section I said:

The way I read it the conference organisers are the IRIB, and they are the ones paying all the costs. I welcome clarification if that is not the case, but regardless think there is an issue about having a state sponsored enemy of the free press, paying for even part of the costs of RNZ staff

Russell Brown replied:

It’s not true, and you’ve rushed in with an endorsement of a “scoop” written by someone who didn’t even bother to check her “facts”.

The two RNZ staff members were sponsored by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union. The sentence in the newsletter was hilariously wrong. End of story.

And you wonder why people say bad things about blogs.

We also had RNZ Comms say:

Two Radio New Zealand staff members have been invited to take part in an international radio festival and conference in Iran, but the invitation came not from the IRIB organisers but the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, the umbrella agency for public broadcasting in our region. Our staff are not representing Radio New Zealand, but are attending on behalf of ABU, and if that organisation had not issued the invitation, they would not be attending.

All the costs of the trip will be reimbursed. No programme-making or gathering of content for air on Radio New Zealand will be done during the attendance at the event.

But nowhere in that statement did they back up the assertion by Russell on who actually is paying. I it APBU or Iran?

Well I have a copy of a statement from Radio NZ, which I believe has or will be supplied to media. In it they say:

Under a separate arrangement between the ABU and IRIB (Iran), the costs of all ABU representatives attending the event are covered by the host broadcaster.

In other words we are right – Iran is paying for two Radio NZ staff to travel to the workshop. Who ever told Russell it is not true, led him wrong.

We also have the issue where Radio NZ keeps insisting the are not representing Radio NZ, but instead the ABU. However their statement again says:

They will not be taking leave to attend

So they are being paid their normal salaries by Radio NZ while they are there, and Iran picks up the travel costs. And I have no doubt their affiliation with Radio NZ will be referenced at the workshops.

Now I have nothing against the two staffers in question. I am sure they do an excellent job. And if the ABU was holding the workshops elsewhere, there would not be an issue – even if a country with a semi-free press such as Singapore.

But Iran has pretty much no free press at all. The host broadcaster is beyond doubt an enemy of free media – their chairman accused the BBC and CNN of manfacturing tapes of the Iranian girl being killed. This is not a regime you want to accept money from, and lend credibility to.

Their global press freedom ranking is 181st= out of 195. Only 13 countries or territories rate lower.

The Chief Executive of Radio NZ has to approve the attendance under the conflicts of interest policy. Why does he not think associating with a regime which is an enemy of public broadcasters like Radio NZ, is a conflict? Just because the ABU has agreed to do workshops there does not mean Radio NZ has to agree to have its staff participate.

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48 Responses to “More on Radio NZ and Iran”

  1. LeftRightOut (622 comments) says:

    And at =181, with 3 others, is our great friend and free trade partner, China.

    Honestly, I don’t see much difference between 181 and 185 on the scale of press freedom. Do you?

    Also at = 181 is the Israeli Occupied Territories.

    For those who want to see for themselves – http://www.freedomhouse.org/uploads/fop08/FOTP2008Tables.pdf

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  2. petal (706 comments) says:

    Oh dear. Russ is going to have to eat humble pie. And knowing Russ, that ain’t gonna happen…

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  3. the deity formerly known as nigel6888 (852 comments) says:

    Russell hilariously wrong again! who knew?

    What is it with that pompous self-important git that seems him proclaim his tired hipster “wisdom” from on high, and then demonstrate, yet again, that he’s got it wrong.

    Maybe its long overdue for “wussells law” – its safe to believe the absolute opposite of anything he says.

    Now, back to the story. Why is RNZ allowing its journalists to participate in a propaganda exercise funded by a repressive police state?

    Seems a pretty good question to me.

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  4. jaba (2,146 comments) says:

    I don’t think he will admit wrong .. he is a leftie

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  5. davidp (3,588 comments) says:

    And you wonder why people say bad things about Russell Brown.

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  6. kiki (425 comments) says:

    Most of the not free are our trading partners.

    Leftrightout is spot on.

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  7. RRM (10,034 comments) says:

    [1]
    So radio NZ are going as the guests of APBU, and APBU are to some extent being hosted by IRIB to attent IRIB’s conference. Does this arrangement make Radio NZ paid lackeys, sycophants, cocksuckers etc of IRIB and all they stand for?

    Really??

    If my suppliers offer me the use of their box at Westpac for the Wellington Phoenix quarter final, and I invite you to come with, are you my guest or my supplier’s guest?

    [2]
    Radio NZ attendance somehow lends credibility worth a damn to Iranian Radio? Riiiiiight. Our PRIME MINISTER rates as little more than a brief, novel diversion on Letterman FFS.

    [3]
    Radio NZ staff, unlike anyone here, seem willing to go to the conference and let Iranian Radio speak for themselves.

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  8. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    DPF said: And if the ABU was holding the workshops elsewhere, there would not be an issue – even if a country with a semi-free press such as Singapore.

    Singapore rates 153 (out of 195 counties on the Freedom of the Press table). It sits there with Iraq and Gabon. Yay for freedom of the press in those countries too. Afghanistan is just behind Singapore at 157. Russia is at 170.

    By your standards DPF, the Asian Broadcasting Union would be hard pushed to find a host nation for their workshops. Of Asian countries only Taiwan (32), Japan (35), Hong Kong (67), East Timor (81), and the Philippines (97) rank in the top 100.

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  9. kiki (425 comments) says:

    But we must be grateful that we live in a country where authorities don’t censor our internet access or spy on us without reasonable controls. By the way how is Cameron Slater going?

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  10. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    @kiki 6:07 pm

    How the hell would we know, kiki?

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  11. dad4justice (8,313 comments) says:

    Is Russell Brown the full quid or just like the slimy toad – who is a clapped out old commie loose unit?

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  12. Johnboy (17,018 comments) says:

    Why does RNZ still exist?
    What do they do that a private broadcaster can’t?
    Why does the current government feel it needs a propaganda arm?
    Didn’t we sack that sort of thinking in 2008?
    Come in Neville, where are you being “relaxed” about spending everyone’s money today

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  13. Pongo (374 comments) says:

    Imagine the uproar if the conference was in Israel and state sponsored. Radio NZ of which I am a fan despite their politics should be ashamed of themselves. This is the state sponsored NZ broadcaster supporting the state sponsored broadcasting regime of a crackpot thug who not only sponsors terroism, holacaust deniers is alson after that nutter in North Korea is arguably the most dangerous man on earth.
    I heard that Russel Brown on the radio the other day and was stunned that people think that way, did his testicles get removed he is pathetic.

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  14. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    @d4j 6:22 pm

    What’s your problem mad dad? You sound grumpy and frustrated. Get cramps in your hand before you finished this morning, did you?

    I linked to an informed post on another blog, and all I got back from you was abuse – to both me and Russell Brown (whose blog wasn’t even the one I linked to).

    So have some back! I’m quite capable of intelligent debate, even though most commenters on this blog disagree with me on most issues.

    You, however, choose to hurl abuse rather than debate the issue. Why can’t you engage on the issues, rather than attack the commenter with no argument to substantiate your attack?

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  15. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Also at = 181 is the Israeli Occupied Territories.

    Did you expect Fatah and Hamas to allow anything different?

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  16. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    RRM

    [1] NZ journalists shouldnt be attanding official conferences in that country PERIOD! I dont give a flying fuck who is paying for it.

    [2 & 3] I take it then you had no problem with the 1981 Springbok tour then?

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  17. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Toad, have you forgotton what you said the other day?

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  18. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    @Pongo 6:39 pm

    I wouldn’t have a problem if it were in Israel either. They are number 59 on the Freedom of the Press table – along with Papua New Guinea and South Africa.

    Maybe I was wrong to not count Israel as an Asian country – geographically it is part of Asia, but doesn’t culturally identify as such.

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  19. LeftRightOut (622 comments) says:

    Bevan (1858) Says:

    February 24th, 2010 at 6:53 pm
    Also at = 181 is the Israeli Occupied Territories.

    Did you expect Fatah and Hamas to allow anything different?

    And who do you think occupies the Israeli Occupied Territories?

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  20. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    @Bevan 6:57 & 6:59 pm

    The difference is that the legitimate representatives of the liberation movements under apartheid South Africa were calling on the rest of the world to implement a cultural boycott.

    I don’t hear that call from those who are oppressed in Iran. If you have evidence that there is significant support for a cultural boycott, let me know. I am likely to change my opinion if that were the case.

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  21. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    RRM: if you go to the rugby in that box, and your employer doesn’t ask you to take leave, then your employer is seeing your attendance as part of your job. At that point I’d say, yes, you are now a guest of the box owner, and your employer is explicitly condoning it.

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  22. reid (16,638 comments) says:

    DPF, would be great if you could do a similar analysis of the amount of influence peddling and outright meddling AIPAC does within the US Congress, not to mention the US media.

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  23. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,924 comments) says:

    Toad, you really are a sanctimonious academic and useless prat.

    You don’t hear that call because the caller within hours of making the call would be taken down a back alley and have his or her throat cut.

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  24. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    Adolf,

    Fuck, that Toad showed you mate.

    NZ Govt. employees should always be present at totalitarian state junkets.

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  25. gravedodger (1,573 comments) says:

    @ kiki I sell fuel to a drink driver am I condoning his societal transgression? OTOH I sponsor his attending a liquor industry pissup knowing it will give credence to his love of the booze, I am actively supporting his offending.
    This is implicit support for one of the most restrictive media outlets on the planet and I say it is wrong along with giving any form of support to the restrictions of the chicoms and all other regimes that control media among their citizens thus preventing them from accessing any alternative point of view.

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  26. Hurf Durf (2,860 comments) says:

    In b4 puke and ex-Shittum editor Ryan Sproull spring to the defence of Ahmedinejad.

    And who do you think occupies the Israeli Occupied Territories?

    Oooh, let me guess, billybonkers. The same people who aren’t in Gaza?

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  27. the deity formerly known as nigel6888 (852 comments) says:

    As a couple of you have pointed out, most days Ryan is busy calling the “Israeli Occupied Territories” some imaginary country called Palestine.

    The reason for a not so free press there is, oh two kleptocratic dictatorships.

    While in Iran, perhaps the RNZ journos could ask the President to repeat his views on gay people – oh thats right there arent any in Iran are there, they hang them.

    But other than that, no issues at all, carry on there speaking truth to power, but only in nice safe democracies where you wont get your testicles cut off for doing so.

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  28. kiki (425 comments) says:

    we are not just selling them beer we have invited them into our house and made them comfortable and do as they say

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  29. NeilM (370 comments) says:

    seems a marginal point David. I’m confident the journalists wont be knobbled by the regime, they’re not sending John Campbell or Minto I gather.

    Have some faith they’ll come back with some reasonable insights.

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  30. vibenna (305 comments) says:

    Yes, I rather think the two radio nz journalists will be free press in Iran. Sounds like a good outcome.

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  31. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    I have difficulty getting excited about the semi-dead horse that you are flogging here, David.

    As I said the other day, New Zealand journalists going to countries as guests of those countries that did not have a free media has been going on for more than 50 years.

    They went to the Soviet Union. They went to China. Both had records similar to Iran’s. Both had written in their constitutions guarantees of a free and open news media — which of course were not free and open at all.

    I know you’re trying to make a point about Iran. But that particular high horse bolted decades ago when Kiwi journalists were allowed to go behind the Iron and Bamboo curtains as their guests.

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  32. Stuart Mackey (337 comments) says:

    toad (1850) Says:
    February 24th, 2010 at 6:16 pm
    @kiki 6:07 pm

    How the hell would we know, kiki?
    *********************************

    Toad, you missed the word ‘Secret’.

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  33. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    As I alluded to the other day, surely the time is fast approaching to convene a Committee for Un-Kiwi Activities.

    Any volunteers?

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  34. ephemera (557 comments) says:

    @TripeWryter

    So, what you are trying to say is; the horse bolted and now it is almost dead from the flogging?

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  35. Spoff (275 comments) says:

    Yes Luc. Then let us see if we can get New Zealand a numerically higher rating on the Global Press Freedom Rankings by preventing journos from visiting countries that have a higher rating than us – like Israel (59), Fiji (80).

    Note that Reporters Sans Frontieres just downgraded Israel to 93:

    “The group also drew attention to Israel, which fell 47 places to No. 93, losing its place as the top country for press freedom in the region and falling behind Kuwait at No. 60, Lebanon at No. 61 and the United Arab Emirates at No. 86.”
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE59J4XD20091020
    Possibly because of incidents like these:
    (RSF/IFEX) – Reporters Without Borders condemns Israeli newspaper reporter Amira Hass’s arrest at the Erez border crossing on 12 May 2009 as she returned to Israel after spending four months in the Gaza Strip reporting for the Tel Aviv-based daily “Haaretz”
    http://www.ifex.org/israel/2009/05/15/reporter_arrested/

    English-language editor of Palestinian news agency deported
    http://www.ifex.org/israel/2010/01/21/malsin_deported/

    “This nose-dive means it (Israel) has lost its place at the head of the Middle Eastern countries, falling behind Kuwait (60th), United Arab Emirates (86th) and Lebanon (61st).

    Israel has begun to use the same methods internally as it does outside its own territory. Reporters Without Borders registered five arrests of journalists, some of them completely illegal, and three cases of imprisonment. The military censorship applied to all the media is also posing a threat to journalists.

    As regards its extraterritorial actions, Israel was ranked 150th. The toll of the war was very heavy. Around 20 journalists in the Gaza Strip were injured by the Israeli military forces and three were killed while covering the offensive.”
    http://www.i-times.org/interesting_times/2009/10/europe-us-israel-star-in-rsfs-press-freedom-index-for-better-or-worse.html

    BTW, I am sure this is a hoax but how did DPF get his name on the list?
    Israel Hasbara Committee.
    Alphabetical List of Authors
    http://www.infoisrael.net/authors.html

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  36. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    Not bad, Ephemera.

    But yes, David Farrar’s outrage over this is decades too late.

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  37. ephemera (557 comments) says:

    I still don’t understand the outrage.

    I am sure the workshops the RNZ staff will be attending won’t be ‘how to deny the holocaust’ or whatever. Iran needs engagement with the west, especially when it comes to the media. You really ought to see some of the punditry which currently gets broadcast there.

    A little input from the outside world would go a long way. And if they are picking up the bill, then even better.

    If I knew it would be ‘bash Radio New Zealand week’, I would have put it on my calendar and baked a cake.

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  38. ephemera (557 comments) says:

    On reflection, it is difficult to comprehend just what DPF is getting at here. He seems to take issue with RNZ having any association to an broadcaster he objects to the output of.

    I think that Iranian reporters would have some interesting insights to share about Iran’s so-called ‘red-lines’, and how they go about navigating them.

    It is too shallow to say “oh, their CEO is a scumbag, lets use that as a stick to beat our own public broadcaster with”

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  39. Spoff (275 comments) says:

    Pardon me if this is a duplicate post. The first one disappeared after posting.

    Yes Luc. Then let us see if we can get New Zealand a numerically higher rating on the Global Press Freedom Rankings by preventing journos from visiting countries that have a higher rating than us – like Israel (59), Fiji (80).

    Note that Reporters Sans Frontieres just downgraded Israel to 93:

    “The group also drew attention to Israel, which fell 47 places to No. 93, losing its place as the top country for press freedom in the region and falling behind Kuwait at No. 60, Lebanon at No. 61 and the United Arab Emirates at No. 86.”
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE59J4XD20091020
    Possibly because of incidents like these:
    (RSF/IFEX) – Reporters Without Borders condemns Israeli newspaper reporter Amira Hass’s arrest at the Erez border crossing on 12 May 2009 as she returned to Israel after spending four months in the Gaza Strip reporting for the Tel Aviv-based daily “Haaretz”
    http://www.ifex.org/israel/2009/05/15/reporter_arrested/

    English-language editor of Palestinian news agency deported
    http://www.ifex.org/israel/2010/01/21/malsin_deported/

    “This nose-dive means it (Israel) has lost its place at the head of the Middle Eastern countries, falling behind Kuwait (60th), United Arab Emirates (86th) and Lebanon (61st).

    Israel has begun to use the same methods internally as it does outside its own territory. Reporters Without Borders registered five arrests of journalists, some of them completely illegal, and three cases of imprisonment. The military censorship applied to all the media is also posing a threat to journalists.

    As regards its extraterritorial actions, Israel was ranked 150th. The toll of the war was very heavy. Around 20 journalists in the Gaza Strip were injured by the Israeli military forces and three were killed while covering the offensive.”
    http://www.i-times.org/interesting_times/2009/10/europe-us-israel-star-in-rsfs-press-freedom-index-for-better-or-worse.html

    BTW, I am sure this is a hoax but how did DPF get his name on the list?
    Israel Hasbara Committee.
    Alphabetical List of Authors
    http://www.infoisrael.net/authors.html

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  40. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    I wonder if the ‘two RNZ staff members’ have any Jewish heritage? – and if so, whether they’ll be declaring that fact?

    One really does have to wonder whether this is a good look – even if RNZ is not actually sending the two individuals concerned in an official capacity.

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  41. ephemera (557 comments) says:

    @Kris K

    I don’t see why anyone would ‘declare’ their Jewish heritage anywhere. It certainly isn’t asked when one enters Iran.

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  42. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    ephemera 10:45 am,

    I don’t see why anyone would ‘declare’ their Jewish heritage anywhere. It certainly isn’t asked when one enters Iran.

    One would hate to think (if of Jewsih heritage) they could be accused of “spying for Israel” – just saying:

    “I know, if many Jews left Iran, it was for a reason. Hostility exists. The trumped-up charges of spying for Israel against a group of Shiraz Jews in 1999 showed the regime at its worst.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/22/opinion/22iht-edcohen.3.20350579.html

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  43. ephemera (557 comments) says:

    @Kris K

    Simply being a member of the western media is enough to be accused of spying for Israel.

    This is why I think this is a fantastic opportunity which the RNZ staffers should not pass up. They can come back having learned a lot about the inner-workings of the Iranian media industry which many people will never have the chance to.

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  44. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    And who do you think occupies the Israeli Occupied Territories?

    Oh dear, what a simplistic view. The Israeli Occupied Territories include West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and formerly the Sinai Peninsula.

    Sinai = Egypt.
    East Jerusalem = West Bank
    Gaza Strip = Hamas
    West Bank = Fatah
    Golan Heights = Olive trees.

    I didn’t know olive trees had a printing press…..

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  45. ephemera (557 comments) says:

    Put another way: western media practitioners get a hard time whenever they are in Iran. They are issued with minders and told who they can and cannot talk to.

    To be invited to a media conference, where Iran is the host, having the opportunity to be recognized as a member of a foreign media outlet and given a relatively free reign is quite a rare thing.

    It is something I would jump at the chance to do if I was in the same position.

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  46. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    Kris K

    Last year The New York Times ran a longish feature piece about the Jews who live in Teheran. They live there peacefully and without trouble. They were shopkeepers and business owners and professionals such as doctors and lawyers.

    All considered themselves to be Iranians first and Jews second. Or, put another way: loyal Iranians.

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  47. ephemera (557 comments) says:

    @TripeWryter

    Don’t even engage in it – we don’t even know if the RNZ staffers are Jewish. It just derails the conversation to speculate. They might also be homosexual and Baha’i for all we know.

    We could start debating the ins and outs of Irans policy of harm reduction to decrease HIV transmission amongst heroin users, or their tolerance of transgendered people (not forbidden in the Koran!).

    But none of this has anything to do with a few media practitioners attending a conference hosted in such a fascinating country, and how it seems a convenient way to have a go at RNZ this week.

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