Azerbaijan International

Summer 2000 (8.2)
Page 10

Reader's Forum
Azerbaijani Press in Iran

Newspapers in Azeri Language from IranLately there has been considerable discussion about the closure of reformist newspapers in Iran. Many newspapers have closed, while many more have started up.

Photo: Newspapers in Iran which are featuring news in the Azeri language.

However, one type of publication that seems to be thriving on a continuous basis is the Azerbaijani press. Azerbaijani newspapers and magazines got a boost after the election of President Mohammad Khatami.

A new phenomenon in Iranian Azerbaijan, like elsewhere in Iran, is the publication of local newspapers in smaller cities. Persian-Azerbaijani newspapers are published in small towns like Naqadeh, a small town south of Urmia in West Azerbaijan Province. The number of local papers in cities like Tabriz, Urmia and Ardabil has increased, and they are able to attract support from local advertisers and are managing to survive and thrive without government support.

Omid-e-Zanjan (Hope of Zanjan) is the leading newspaper in publishing about issues related to Azerbaijanis. This newspaper is produced in the city of Zanjan, the capital of Zanjan province. It even has special issues related to Azerbaijanis, which are being distributed in other Azerbaijani-populated provinces. This and other local Azerbaijani papers write about the cultural rights of Azerbaijanis and even criticize local and national authorities on issues related to Azerbaijanis. Most of them advocate language rights and cultural rights.

Usage of the Azerbaijani language in these bilingual publications has improved. First of all, articles in the Azerbaijani language are not just about literature and folklore anymore. There is a trend towards "hard news" being published in Azerbaijani along with various articles about political issues. Secondly, there is evidence that the use of the Azerbaijani language is evolving. Many of the local newspapers no longer write in the local provincial dialects anymore but rather in more standard Azerbaijani. For example, the verb, "we went" in the past tense might have been written "getdukh" in Tabriz, "getdik" in Ardabil, and "getdikh" in Urmia.

Also, the literary language of the Republic of Azerbaijan is becoming more dominant though influences from Turkey and elements of local accents are still evident in some articles. The Turkish influence comes through satellite television broadcasts.

Currently, no local newspaper from Iranian Azerbaijan is available on the Web. The way most people gain access to these publications outside of Iran is to request relatives or friends to send them.

Habib Azarsina
Washington, DC

Azerbaijan International (8.2) Summer 2000.
© Azerbaijan International 2000. All rights reserved.

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