Iranian Occidentalism; Images of the West in Iran's mainstream newspapers
It is widely accepted that anti-Westernism, largely associated with antiAmericanism, is on the rise in Muslim countries including in Iran (Mogahed, 2005; O’Connor & Griffiths, 2006; Ray, 2009). Iran and the West have been at loggerheads for more than three decades. The confrontational nature of relations between “Oriental” Iran and “Occidental” West after 1979 has greatly affected the perception of the West (the United States, Britain, France and Germany) among Iranians and the role the media has played in constructing such an image is undeniable. The present research concerns Occidentalism from the viewpoint of Iran. Occidentalism is seldom the subject of scholarly inquiry and no comprehensive study has been conducted on the image of the West in the Iranian media. This project seeks to study mechanisms through which the Occidental(US) image is portrayed in the Iranian press. The image of the West in Iran is negative; however, how such an image is constructed is not known. Presenting a deep analysis of the political situation in Iran in the two periods, I will argue that both presidents Khatami and Ahmadinejad were trying to establish relations with the West (America in particular) but from different perspectives. President Khatami desired the resumption of relations with the United States under his Dialogue Among Civilisations theory, and this was a part of his efforts to set up a civil society. He was a Westoxicated (or Westernised) president in the eyes of the Conservatives and a freedom fighter and civil role model in the eyes of the Reformists. President Ahmadinejad, on the other end of the political spectrum, wanted to establish relations with the United States under the influence of the state’s fundamental principles of safeguarding the interests of the Islamic Republic with “wisdom, expedience and dignity” in line with the country’s long-term strategic plan “Vision 2025”. Therefore, Ahmadinejad is an anti-American revolutionary hero in the eyes of the Conservatives, and ignorant and adventurous in the eyes of the Reformists. To study these perspectives, the researcher will analyse the content of the press during two presidential terms of Khatami (1997–2001) and Ahmadinejad (2005–2009).