During the past several years there has been a myriad of complaints regarding the pro-regime leanings of VOA's Persian language broadcasts. It is difficult to discern whether this apparent obsequious orientation in favor of the Islamic Republic of Iran is the result of too weighted an attempt by VOA management to demonstrate its independence from U.S. policy towards Iran or is the result of a pro-regime ideological persuasion. Nevertheless, a recent memo by the Executive Editor of the Persian Service appears to confirm accusations that the VOA is much too attentive to Tehran's concerns.


Mohammad Manzarpour, a VOA mid-level manager, dispatched a memo to all of its Persian language broadcasters to adopt an appropriate behavioral posture in light of the fact that "that the majority of Iranians and Shiites around the world" observe with solemnity Shia Muslim holy days on 24 and 25 November (for the martyrdom of Imam Hussain's daughter Bibi Sakina). "Out of respect for their audience," the broadcasters were admonished were to dress appropriately (presumably in black) but "nothing too flashy or overtly red."

Moreover, the broadcasters were instructed not to broadcast the "Top Ten" music video, and to choose "with great care" what music they did broadcast. Finally, they were told to choose "light stories for News" (presumably nothing about Iran's aggressive operations throughout the Persian Gulf).

Once again on 30 November, the broadcasters were told by Manzarpour to respect the Shia religious ritual of Arba'een* on 2 December and then again on 10 December, the day which memorializes Mohammad's passing.

*Arba'een is the fortieth day after Ashura, the most solemn holy-day of the Shia Muslim year which is the day in which Imam Hussain and his followers were slain in the valley of Karbala by the Ummayad General Yazid. Forty days is the accepted number of days in the Arab and Muslim world to commemorate the deaths of the martyred.

Several of the recipients of this memo were offended but only one had the courage (protected) to seek public professional redress.