BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Persian Pashto Turkish French
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Middle East  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 2 October, 2002, 23:59 GMT 00:59 UK
Poll on US ties rocks Iran
Rally for President Khatami in city of Rasht on 30 September
Popular support for Iran's reformists is strong
Media heads face prosecution in Iran over a ground-breaking opinion poll on mending relations with the United States.

It showed a large majority of the population in favour of dialogue with the "Great Satan" and nearly half showing sympathy with US policy on Iran.


It has done nothing wrong - it just carried out a poll that was ordered by parliament

Abdollah Ramazanzadeh
Government spokesman
The conservative judiciary has shut down a state-run polling institute and is taking both its director and the head of the state news agency Irna - which published the poll - to court.

The reformist-dominated national parliament, which commissioned the poll, has defended it and called for the prosecutions to be dropped.

According to the poll of 1,500 Iranians, conducted by three separate institutes including the National Institute for Research Studies and Opinion Polls (NIRSOP) and published by Irna on 22 September:

  • 74% of respondents over the age of 15 support dialogue with the US
  • 45.8% believe Washington's policy on Iran is "to some extent correct".
But the judiciary has responded by charging NIRSOP director Behrouz Geranpayeh and Irna's Abdollah Nasseri of "publishing lies to excite public opinion", the Iran newspaper reports.

Mr Nasseri has already appeared in court while Mr Geranpayeh's institute was sealed off by court officials on Monday as he faced his appearance.

'Valid poll'

The parliament, or Majlis, confirmed on Wednesday that it had commissioned the poll as part of a study of ties with the US.

Its presiding board sent a letter to the chief of the judiciary, Ayatollah Majmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, demanding a halt to the prosecutions.

Anti-US protest
The traditional image of Islamic Iran is one of anti-Americanism
One MP, Ahmad Burqani, stressed that the poll had been conducted by three separate institutes.

"The fact that the results are similar shows they have been conducted correctly," he told Irna.

A spokesman for the government of reformist President Mohammed Khatami, Abdollah Ramazanzadeh, described NIRSOP as "one of the most credible" in Iran.

"It has done nothing wrong - it just carried out a poll that was ordered by parliament," he said.

Tensions have simmered for years in Islamic Iran between the conservative clergy led by spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the elected president.

Relations with the US are a particularly thorny issue after the Islamic Revolution in 1979 led to a dramatic split with Washington, typified by the Tehran hostage crisis.

The parliament called for a new dialogue with Washington earlier in the year after relations appeared to dip when President George W Bush ascribed Iran to a global "axis of evil".



See also:

13 Jun 02 | Middle East
04 May 02 | Middle East
29 Apr 02 | Middle East
28 Apr 02 | Middle East
10 Sep 01 | Middle East
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes