Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov. 15
By Umid Niayesh- Trend:
At least 28 Turkic-speaking MPs in Iran's parliament have issued a statement to protest the airing of a program on state TV that insulted the Azerbaijani people, one of the country's largest ethnic groups.
"We representatives of the Islamic Iran's Turkic-speaking people, especially the honorable Azerbaijanis, express strong disgust over the obscene and derogatory words and moves of some ignorant elements in the Fitileh TV program, which aired on the Islamic Republic TV Channel on Nov. 6," the statement reads, the official Mizan news agency reported Nov. 15.
Fitileh is a popular program aired every Friday. However, it was temporarily banned following its broadcast on Nov. 6.
The program contained a satiric show that depicted an Azerbaijani child brushing his teeth with a toilet brush.
The program sparked protests among Iranian Azerbaijanis, which spilled onto the streets on Nov. 9.
The state broadcaster has since apologized for the "unforgivable mistake".
Further, Mohammad Sarafraz, the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), apologized for the episode, which he said was "insulting" to ethnic Azerbaijanis. He also said the producers of the program would be severely punished.
The MPs have also called upon the Islamic Republic's security and justice entities to take "serious and decisive" steps against all people involved in the program's production and airing, including production managers and directors, actors, experts, as well as supervising officials.
"Legal measures against those who insult ethnic identities will make all ethnic groups of Islamic Iran pleased, and will be a restrictive move against cultural infiltrators," the MPs underlined.
This is not the first controversy regarding Azerbaijani Iranians. In 2006, Iran's government suspended a state-owned newspaper after it ran a cartoon that led to rioting in the country's Azerbaijani community.
The cartoon in the "Iran" newspaper depicted a cockroach speaking the Azerbaijani language.
Iran's press supervisory board banned the newspaper, and both the cartoonist and editor were arrested.
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