AFP: Iran’s conservative press watchdog on Monday shut down leading moderate broadsheet Shargh, state television said.
TEHRAN, Sept 11, 2006 (AFP) – Iran’s conservative press watchdog on Monday shut down leading moderate broadsheet Shargh, state television said.
“Shargh was banned and referred to the court considering its frequent violations and refusing to make amends in the past month, especially an insulting cartoon in a recent edition,” the press watchdog said a statement carried on television.
The daily had also defied an August order from the body to employ a new director “who would have more control over the publication” although the publisher had requested an extension of two months.
The order had reportedly come after 70 warnings for publishing “heretical articles, insulting religious, political and national figures and revealing information in defiance of the Supreme National Security Council”.
The disputed cartoon in the Thursday edition of Shargh depicted two chess pieces, a white knight facing a black donkey, on a checkered board.
Director Mehdi Rahmanian said he would protest the “illegal” ban and that the newspaper had only received two warnings.
“Reacting to a cartoon is not the press watchdog’s job and cannot shut down a paper for this reason,” he told the student ISNA news agency, insisting “the court has to decide on that”.
With a circulation of 100,000, Shargh (which means East in Farsi) is a leading publication among some 40 national dailies, half of which are close to the moderate and reformist camps.
In May governmental daily, Iran, was banned and two of its journalists were arrested for publishing a cartoon which provoked rioting by Iran’s large Azeri community. The daily has since been given the green light to publish again.
The Iranian press enjoyed some freedoms under the previous reformist government of Mohammad Khatami from 1997-2005.
Since 2000, however, the hardline judiciary has clamped down on the reformist press, shutting down scores of titles and detaining dozens of journalists.
Meanwhile, ISNA reported that the political monthly Nameh had also been shut down. It did not give a reason.