IRNA has accused prominent American and European media by name for “being at the service of instigators with their soft politics.” Chastising the London Guardian newspaper for its reporting on Neda Agha Soltan — the 27-year-old woman whose death on video has made her an icon of Iran’s protest movement — it says the paper failed to mention “evidence” by the Intelligence Ministry, “which points to some foreign government’s planning of this scenario.” Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a conservative leader of Tehran’s Friday prayers accused the protestors themselves of killing Neda: “Any intelligent person seeing the film gets it … the way they’ve shot it from where the woman’s car is.” Iran’s ambassador to Mexico reckons the killing could be the work of the CIA. “The bullet … is of a kind that is not used in Iran. These are methods that terrorists, the CIA, and espionage agencies use.”
But despite all the conspiracies and bluster a large segment of Iran’s population remains incredulous. The propaganda campaign may well sway many Iranians, especially those who only consume state media, but many others see straight through it. Criticizing Ahmadinejad’s claim that the Islamic Republic foiled an attempt at a velvet revolution, Iran’s former reformist president Mohammad Khatami met with families of the detained this week. “If this poisoned propaganda and security atmosphere continues … we must say that what happened was a velvet coup d’etat against the people and the republicanism of this state,” he said. Millions of Iranians may agree. For now, though, there’s little they can do to change it.