Monday, July 28, 2008

"Promoting Superstitions"

Iran's Culture Ministry on Sunday announced the closure of nine cinema and lifestyle magazines for publishing pictures and stories about the life of "corrupt" foreign film stars and promoting "superstitions."

The Press Supervisory Board, a body controlled by hard-liners, also sent warning notes to 13 other publications and magazines on "observing the provisions of the press law," the ministry said on its Web site.

It was not clear why the nine magazines were targeted for closure. They do not deal with politics, focusing on light lifestyle features, family advice, and news of celebrities.

They regularly publish photos of Iranian actresses in loose headscarves and stylish clothes, as well as foreign female film stars without head coverings — but nothing more revealing than what is tolerated on some state media.

The ministry said it shut them down for "using photos of artists, especially foreign corrupt film stars, as instruments (to arouse desire), publishing details about their decadent private lives, propagating medicines without authorization, promoting superstitions."

It did not elaborate. Such magazines often have small adds for vitamins and remedies, including pills to treat impotence.

Mohsen Ahmadi, editor of one of the closed magazines — Sobh-e-Zendegi, or Morning of Life — condemned the order.

"It is deplorable that a family lifestyle magazine is ordered closed. It means 70 people have lost their job," he told The Associated Press.

Ahmadi said he received the closure order from the Culture Ministry on Sunday, but it was dated March 10. He said he suspected authorities waited to implement the order until after Friday's parliament elections to avoid raising anger.

The other magazines closed down were Donya-e-Tasvir, Baznegari, Talash, Be Sooy-e-Eftekhar, Neday-e-Iran, Haft, Shooka and Havar.

Iran saw a wave of newspaper closures amid a confrontation between reformers and hard-liners during the 1997-2005 tenure of former reformist President Mohammad Khatami.

The judiciary has shut down more than 100 pro-reform newspapers and jailed dozens of editors and writers on vague charges of insulting authorities since 2000.

AP and Times Of India

art by Kathy Schicker


Ben Sutherland said...

Crazy, Courtney.

What a sad, cowardly, pathetic little regime.

Every petty tyrant who thinks that their power is threatened by the slightest bit of freedom or just ordinary humanity thinks repression like this will save them and their people from the evil that freedom supposedly engenders. And, every time, the evil of their repressive efforts far surpasses anything that they were afraid might be unleashed by a respect for that freedom. And peoples who take freedom seriously almost always and inevitably end up being the good guys.

Ahmadinejad, Mugabe, Jong Il, Castro, Than Shwe, al-Bashir. Bin Laden, Nasrallah, Haniyah. It's all the same ball of wax, in the big picture.

I look at situations like this and wonder why it is so hard for the people of Iran or any similar nation to see that this way of running a country is fool's gold. And then I remember all the fear that shapes how they look at everything and the tendency to try to persistantly confirm that such fears are warranted because of their fear that doubting this means shaking their faith - in life, in humanity, in themselves, all of it - that is, ironically, reinforced by such doubt not shaken by it.

It's all such senseless tragedy. Nothing new. Just no less tragic, despite its long history.

Just a couple of magazines closed down, this time. Not the worst they could do, the regime reassures its people, I'm sure. Clever, aren't they? Almost makes you want to give them a gold star, if it all weren't so dishonest and wrong.

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Wish I'd written that. Makes for some light-hearted reflection on life. Be a little more dreary if the good guys didn't always come out on top, in the end.

Time for Iranians to work up the courage, despite their fears, and figure out that the good guys are the ones who favor freedom.

Kind of ironic that this much more fundamental superstition - that freedom, rather than repression, is the source of their most serious probems and cultural ills -animates a regime pretending to combat superstition.

Then again nothing surprises me with this sad little government.

Findalis said...

When a dictatorship cannot control the media it will fall. Censorship of the masses is necessary to ensure that the masses stay loyal.

Khaki Elephant said...

Ah, but perhaps shutting down these magazines was justified. I mean, they were showing women's hair! And who knows what else they may have done. Perhaps they implied that women should read. Or interviewed somebody named "David." What if they published Danish cartoons? Or maybe, just maybe, there was a reference to McDonalds.

Right Truth said...

But we can sit down with them and talk to them reasonably ... at least Obama thinks so.

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

kevin said...

Malaysia is also 'working on a clampdown'.

Anonymous said...

The fairness doctrine in action.