Following a conversation with Dan Brickley, who pointed me to Ian Forrester's post on BBC Persian being filtered in Iran (see http://www.cubicgarden.com/blojsom/blog/cubicgarden/culture/?permalink=BBC-Persian-filtered-out-of-Iran-what-can-we-do.html), I am now running a first version of a Persian (Farsi) news bot, along similar lines as the newsflash bots. As Dan suggested, this could be one additional means of bypassing the Iranian firewall...
Currently the bot is only running on MSN, and although I managed to get the right-to-left issue to work using the official MSN client (in my case Windows Live Messenger beta), it seems that not all 3rd party clients support the "X-MMS-IM-Format" field (where I set the R-to-L orientation), so for example Trillian ignores it and displays the messages incorrectly L-to-R. I haven't tried other clients yet.
I don't speak/read Farsi or Arabic, so can't really tell if the content is ok (although I compared it visually to what's on the BBC website to get some idea). I use the nearly-full-text feed at
http://feeds.bbc.co.uk/persian/index.xml (I believe Ian set that up?), and have noticed some strange HTML tags in the feeds, all of which (rightly or wrongly) also make it into the bot messages.. in addition, the menu-type texts are all in English for now, and should really be translated.
The bot is on MSN as "[EMAIL PROTECTED]". Once you join, you'll get the 10 most recent news headlines from
http://feeds.bbc.co.uk/persian/index.xml every hour, to which you can respond with a number (1 to 10) to see more details for the news headline you're interested in (I decided to change this from the way the English news flashes work due to the feeds containing much more text, so it wasn't practical to send all news details in one message).
No guarantees as to bot uptime etc, but as ever, feedback appreciated!