According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the International Federation of Journalists, the Iranian media is under an increasing amount of governmental pressure. More newspapers and magazines such as daily Shargh and the monthlies Nameh and Hafez have been shut down by the Commission for Authorizing and Monitoring the Press, an offshoot of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. Let’s see what some Iranian bloggers have to say about this issue:
All this for a donkey?
Kamangir says the Shargh newspaper was one of the last places where the current generation of reformist journalists had the opportunity to communicate their views to the nation. Kamangir reports that the paper was banned partly because of having published a cartoon which reportedly shows “a donkey with a halo around it”. An RSF report said that as the donkey was outlined in white, it was seen as an allusion to a comment by President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in which he said he had felt himself surrounded by light when he addressed the UN General Assembly last year.
Mr. Behi says that, like many other publications that have been shut down, Shargh may remain closed for years before the matter comes to trial. He adds:
It seems that this was the reason! and the president is offended because he claimed a light was around his body when he talked in the UN general assembly and the donkey in the cartoon has one and donkey in Iran is the legend for stupidity! How mean! and they closed a paper for that?!
More Issues beyond the cartoon
Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a vice president to former president Mohammad Khatami and also a blogger, says “a short piece of news; Shargh was closed down. Reasons, as usual; 70 complaints by formal and non-formal officials that come during the decision making days of the juridical affairs and turn into the operational support.” He adds: “We hope that Shargh starts work again but if not they have already done a great job by making their voice audible in the hard days that many voices were not to be heard at all. The Iranian nation and the history will always appreciate the guys in Shargh. What a pity, it was a real newspaper.“
Iran Paparazi says that Shargh could cover a large spectrum of different political trends from left to right, from conservative to radical, and so on. Iran Paparazi believes Shargh was banned in order not to reflect the ideas of progressive reformists in the forthcoming elections (of the Assembly of Experts and Councils of Cities)[Fa].
Jobless and voiceless
Arousak Kooki says there are many other people, such as workers, who are in a worse situation than journalists, but nobody talks about them [Fa]. The blogger adds:
I don’t know why when they (authorities) made workers jobless (50 by 50, 100 by 100, 500 by 500), nobody says anything…. There are more than a few workers who cannot earn their bread due to the wrongdoings of Iranian nuclear policy.
According to Kourosh Ziabari, “Now about a group including 300 employers of this magazine are workless! I don’t know exactly what to say… Shargh was belonging to the bright-minded and intellectual layer of society… I am sorry! That’s the last statement that remains to express.”
Khatami and a controversial trip
Another topic in Iranian blogs has been former president Mohammad Khatami‘s visit to the USA. It is interesting to see the extent to which bloggers have been divided on the issue of this unofficial visit.
Jomhour considers Khatami's visit and speeches a positive thing, and notes that his approach towards issues such as Iraq or Palestine is different from the current government's. Jomhour also notes Khatami's assertion that the Holocaust is a reality and we should learn lessons from that [Fa]. The blogger adds:
بنظر می رسد همچنان بخشی از نیروهای اپوزیسیون خارجی و بنیادگرایان داخلی خاتمی و اندیشه اصلاحی او را بزرگترین دشمن خود قلمداد می کنند و از هر فرصتی برای حمله به ایشان استفاده می کنند
It seems that the opposition in exile and fundamentalists inside the country consider Khatami and his ideas their worst enemy and do not lose any opportunity to attack him.
Hoder says Khatami's visit revealed groups with neo-conservative ties. He adds that the interesting observation here is the way these groups, once aligned with and supported by the State Department, have now started to publicly dismiss the decision by the same State Department to grant a visa to Khatami. Azarmehr, who considers Khatami's visit wrong, says: “Let Khatami face his victims of eight years of presidency, lets see how he holds a dialogue with them.”
Nasim Dasht and his friends met Khatami after this trip and reports that the former president considered his trip the most successful one ever. The blogger criticized Iranian TV for not broadcasting the speeches Khatami's delivered at American Universities and elsewhere during his US visit [Fa].