Monday, January 02, 2006

Iran Closes Newspaper and Bans Women's Publication

The Iranian government on Monday ordered the closure of a daily newspaper and banned a new women's bi-weekly from publication in the first media crackdown since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office in August. "The Supervisory Board on the Press agreed to the temporary closure of Asia newspaper and Nour-e Banovan and ordered their cases sent to court," said the Culture Ministry in the ban, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters. READ MORE

No reason was given for the closure and ban although a journalist at the economic daily Asia said the paper had been given a warning in recent months for printing photographs of women considered to have been improperly dressed.

Nour-e Banovan, a planned bi-weekly publication aimed at women, has not yet been published.

More than 100 publications have been closed by the Iranian government since 2000 although many have re-opened under different names and scores of titles still exist.

Reformist journalist Isa Saharkhiz said it was rare for the government, instead of the judiciary, to order the bans.

"The supervisory board had rarely in the past ordered the closure of a newspaper. The ban by the board indicates a new round of pressure on the press," he told Reuters.