File photo shows Iranian female ninjas in training.
Iran has suspended press activities of Reuters in Tehran after the news agency distorted a report on young Iranian women training in the Japanese martial arts, Ninjutsu.
Mohammad Javad Aqajari, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance’s general manager for foreign media, told IRNA on Monday that the measure has been taken after Reuters manipulated a report on female Iranian athletes, introducing them as terrorists.
“Some of these ladies are students or housewives and have chosen this sport simply on the basis of their personal interest,” he added.
The official said the Reuters report was titled “Thousands of female Ninjas train as Iran’s assassins,” which had very negative reverberations among other foreign media.
“In the Islamic Republic of Iran it is possible for Iranian women to practice the sport of their interest while safeguarding Islamic values, and to reach the highest levels of progress and [participate] in international competitions," the official stated.
He added that choosing a title that implies that assassination and terrorism are being taught in Tehran and choosing selected parts of the remarks made by these female athletes proves that this news agency is after the manipulation of the world public opinion.
“Upon being informed of the biased measure taken by Reuters in its video section and considering the legal action taken by Iranian women athletes, the Ministry decided to suspend all activities of the news agency until thorough investigations are carried out,” Aqajari said.
On February 18, Reuters showed a number of Iranian girls practicing martial arts in a city near Tehran, claiming Iran was training more than 3,000 female ninjas to kill any possible foreign invaders.
The report claimed that the athletes are undercover assassins in the service of the Islamic Republic.
The athletes have condemned the report, saying the misleading report can definitely be a problem for their professional sports career.
“It can harm our chances to travel to other countries to take part in global tournaments and international championships because Reuters is considered by many to be a reliable source,” athlete Raheleh Davoudzadeh said.
Akbar Faraji, who established Ninjutsu in Iran over 22 years ago, condemned the British media accusations, saying his students would pursue their legal action against Reuters to the end.
“We have filed a defamation lawsuit against Reuters and we intend to pursue it as far as necessary because it is a matter of reputation,” he said.