Thousands of people, impacting millions, work in the Iranian media. All need our fervent prayers. There are seven national TV channels, five major daily newspapers and a host of magazines and provincial newspapers. In addition each province has its own TV and radio network. There is a lot of high quality material, and thankfully there is no pornography or anything of a lewd nature. For this we should thank God.
However, there is no press freedom in Iran. All media must be in accord with Islamic principles. State officials check all printed and broadcast material. This obviously means there is no legal voice for Biblical Christianity. There is no serious political debate or unbiased commentary. Under President Khatami there was more freedom – but as criticism emerged, the state hit back. Between 1998 and 1999 five journalists were killed, a number were put in prison; and after 2000 over 100 publications were closed down. In April 2000 the prominent journalist Akbar Ganji was arrested and sentenced to six years imprisonment for his political views. His hunger strike gained world wide attention and he was released in March this year. There are now nine journalists in prison and the last to be killed was Elham Alfrooton, nineteen, in February this year. She had written a satirical piece about the Islamic Revolution.
The government is also trying to control the censor-free web where Iranians have established one of the largest blogging communities in the world. On the 100,000 plus sites you can find every shade of opinion. The government tries to block political sites, and they have made a number of arrests which has intimidated Iranians inside the country. The government has also tried, with limited success, to confiscate satellite dishes which receive hundreds of channels from abroad. They have also been known to arrest performers in the satellite programmes when they visit Iran and are working on technology to block the transmission. Despite this pressure, satellite TV is one of the most effective ways that Christians can reach right into people’s homes.
Let us turn to prayer today believing that the Lord can impact this crucial area of Iranian life.
- Pray fervently for more press freedom in Iran. Pray specifically that programmes with the message of Christ can be shared in the national press and on the air waves.
- Pray for all those working in the Media: in TV for script writers, producers, directors and film editors. In print media, for journalists, designers and editors. Pray they can hear the Gospel.
- Pray fervently for those who risk imprisonment and even death by speaking out for freedom and justice. Pray for journalists who are in prison today. Pray that they will be set free and come to know the truth in Jesus.
- Pray also for the government officials who have to censor material. Pray they will have a generous and gracious spirit, and that they too will be influenced by the Gospel.
We are so grateful for your prayers.