Amid popular protests and a violent crackdown on demonstrators in Iran, SAT-7 viewers in the country have been sharing their worries, fears and prayers with the channel.
While other Christian media normally watched online was unavailable, SAT-7’s satellite TV broadcasts continued to offer biblical guidance and support during an internet blackout(1) and the channel’s Audience Relations team have been available 24 hours a day.
The wave of protests erupted across Iran in November, sparked by an increase in the cost and rationing of fuel. Internet access was cut, and over 200 people were killed when protesters were met with live fire.
In a phone call to SAT-7, Shohreh*, a distraught and weeping viewer, revealed the atmosphere Iranians have endured in the past month:
“These have been such hard days. Being cut-off from the internet has been the least of our problems. We have experienced so much persecution… So many have gone on strike and so many have been arrested, harmed and killed. And after all that, [officials] come on our television channels and declare that ‘it wasn’t the people who came on the streets’. And with their news broadcasts they pour salt onto our wounds. We have had an awful time and have felt totally alone. God alone knows what we have endured.”
“On the streets it has been military rule; so many police and soldiers. We have felt suffocated… I am sorry that I can’t stop crying as I speak.”
Uncensored and continuing to broadcast God’s love to people in Iran via satellite, SAT-7’s Persian channel, SAT-7 PARS, has been an essential source of comfort and encouragement to its viewers at a time when Iranians have felt cut off from the world.
“I truly thank God for you who have been our consolation during these difficult days. Watching your channel and your programmes has been an encouragement to us”, Shohreh said.
“We are telling viewers, that we are available 24/7 and are praying for them and for peace” said Panayiotis Keenan, the Executive Director of SAT-7 PARS. “We want our viewers to know that there is a huge family outside of Iran praying for them. On many occasions people told us ‘You are our last resort to get some motivation, some message from the Bible, to get some help’.”
“We always acknowledge the situation in Iran on our live programmes and try to encourage our viewers” added Moe Pooladfar, the SAT-7 PARS producer of he live discussion programme Insiders.
“This season, in line with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, presenters and guests such as Mansour Bourji will talk about freedom of religion, of speech and freedom to act as a human being.”
The themes chosen for all the programme’s episodes are carefully chosen to address circumstances in Iran, to teach viewers their rights, and to support them.
“Our viewers pray for a better future in the country because they believe leaving Iran is not the answer. They ask us to pray for this and support them in this,” Panayiotis Keenan explained.
An Iranian woman, who did not give her name, also shared her deep misgivings as she prayed for her country: “May God bring good, and whatever that good is, let it come. May God have mercy for the sake of the little children who know nothing and can’t be blamed, and may He generously bring blessing and good to our country for which we are in distress.”
(1) An internet shutdown began on 16 November and was partially lifted on 25 November. It remains in place for mobile devices.
* Names changed to protect the identity of the viewers