Friday, July 16, 2010

Pro-regime, anti-Ahmadinejad site publishes photos of bazaar strike

A conservative news site published a photo report showing that the strike in Tehran's Bazaar continued on Thursday, July 15, 2010.

The web site, Alef, is run by Ahmad Tavakoli, Majlis representative (Tehran) and head of the legislature's research center. Tavakoli is a cousin of Speaker Ali Larijani -- he is the son of Larijani's aunt -- and has been a critic of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad since his first term as president. Tavakoli, who obtained his doctorate in economics from the University of Nottingham in the 1990s, was one of the first Malis deputies to accuse Ali Kordan, interior minister in Ahmadinejad's first administration, of faking his doctorate. The late Kordan was subsequently impeached. Tavakoli and several of his close allies in the Majlis have continued to denounce the government's economic policies, the level of the post-election crackdown, and the fake doctorates of several ministers and vice-presidents.

The article which was posted yesterday on Alef contended, 'While [National Traders' Council chief] Ghassem Nodeh [Farahani] has spoken of the conclusion of discussions on traders' taxes [...] and business as usual in the bazaar in recent days, Alef's journalist's report shows that some portions of the bazaar remain closed.' Alef posted photos of the bazaar which were purportedly taken at noon on Thursday.

The report was followed by 27 comments left by the site's readers as of noon GMT on Friday, July 16. Only one reader opined that the tax rate on traders should not be increased (the government has agreed to a tax hike of 15% after first mentioning 70%).

But this did not mean that the comments on this conservative site favored the government either. Only two readers expressed support for the Ahmadinejad administration. One wrote, 'Stick to perfecting your prose and let the government do its job.' This comment garnered 5 thumbs up and 34 thumbs down. The other comment read, 'The benefit-seeking profiteers are lining up against the president.' It scored 23 'likes' and 46 'dislikes' by the other readers.

The vast majority of the comments either blasted the bazaaris (9 comments), without any kind words for the government, or questioned the coverage of the pro-regime media, particularly state radio-television, which have denied the existence of a strike or have tried to minimize its scope (6 comments).

'It's great that, after a week, you're finally covering this issue,' wrote one person. 106 readers gave this a thumbs up, while 7 disliked it. 'So why was television portraying the bazaar news in a different manner?' asked another individual. 110 readers approved this question, while 7 did not. Another comment read, 'We really didn't expect this text and the photos from you... You should have prepared a report on the bazaar like the 20:30 television newscast which said that everything is fine and dandy and the economy is growing and everything is open and what shutdown are you talking about... To hell with the age of technology and communications and the Internet... As long as these gentlemen, instead of resolving problems, continue to deny them and cover them up, not only will nothing be solved, but our problems will get worse every day.' 112 readers agreed with this, while 12 disagreed.

One angry comment said, 'So these heavy-hitting bazaaris shouldn't pay taxes and my father who is an employee should? Is this justice? 7% of my father's small salary goes to taxes.' 84 readers liked this and 7 did not. Another person said, 'Don't get me angry. How much do these people make every month? Where are their homes? Why are employees' salaries taxed before they see any money, while these privileged individuals refrain from paying taxes? I want to see their stores boarded up, by Imam Hossein.' 73 people supported this opinion while 20 did not.  'I think it's the best time for rivals of the bazaar to come on the scene. Chain stores and companies which engage in marketing and selling directly to customers are better solutions,' wrote another individual. This comment was approved by 26 people and opposed by one.

These are some of the photos published by Alef:

A view of the textile traders' section:

Jewelery and gold traders:

The jewelry and gold bazaar: