Canada's National Arts Centre hosts "cultural day" by Iranian embassy front

The National Arts Centre in Ottawa is hosting a “cultural day” put on by a front for the Iranian embassy in Canada.

Iran Culture” is run out of the Iranian embassy on Metcalfe Street in Ottawa and is described on its website as the “cultural consulate” of the Islamic Republic. Its phone number, however, is different than that of the embassy, and there is no street address listed on the cultural centre’s website.

The centre’s website says a “cultural day” under the banner, “Iran, Land of Glory,” will be held in the National Arts Centre’s Panorama Room on June 4, from 12 to 8 p.m. The room has been rented out privately, meaning it is not a formal NAC event and the NAC is not selling tickets. The NAC receives half of its funding from the federal government. 

Iran Culture’s website promotes Press TV, an English-language television station that functions as a propaganda arm of Iran’s foreign ministry. It also includes links to the office of Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. And it offers free presentations on Iranian culture to school children.

When contacted by Maclean’s, a woman who answered the phone at the number provided on Iran Culture’s website initially refused to say whether the organization was physically located at the embassy.

“I have no idea. I can’t answer that question,” she said.

When pressed about where she was speaking from, she said: “What do you think? Yes, we’re in the embassy.”

Then, claiming she was busy and someone was at her door, the woman hung up.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.