(Prague, Czech Republic--March 4, 2008) Radio Farda, a U.S.-funded, Persian language broadcaster has launched a new text messaging service (SMS) for Iranians and is getting comments from hundreds of listeners on subjects ranging from politics to music to jokes.
Radio Farda Editorial Director Golnaz Esfandiari says the SMS, launched on February 29, was an instant hit: "In less than three days, we received over 300 messages from Marivan, Isfahan, Shiraz, Tehran and many other places." She said listeners are sending praise and criticism of Radio Farda programs, as well as comments on the forthcoming March 14 parliamentary elections and a range of problems in Iran.
A listener in the Eastern Azerbaijan province of Iran complained that the government was giving huge amounts of money to Iraq, Afghanistan and Hizbullah. Another listener sent a complaint about president Ahmadinejad's trip to Iraq this week, urging Radio Farda to "ask these gentlemen why they give loans to Iraq and invest there while backward regions of Iran need that investment much more urgently... I asked a year ago for an employment loan and they haven't responded yet to my request." Others said they would go to the polls March 14 to show America how democratic Iran is; yet others said they will ignore the elections because "our vote does not count, why should we bother." Workers in one town complained they have not been paid and asked Radio Farda to "let people know we are suffering." Another message complained of inflation and corruption in the country, appealing to Radio Farda: "please help the people." One listener wrote: "the major achievement of (president) Ahmadinejad is to have isolated Iran."
Radio Farda is a joint operation of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America, broadcasting 24/7 in Persian to Iran from Washington and from RFE/RL broadcast headquarters in Prague, Czech Republic. Radio Farda programming is also available via the Internet, at the service's website www.radiofarda.com
and at www.rferl.org
; English-language news about events in Iran
can be found on the RFE/RL website.