Friday, June 09, 2006

Iran: Editor of banned daily awarded Italian Prize

Adnkronos International:
Iranian journalist Iraj Jamshidi, editor in chief of financial daily Asia, has been awarded the International Freedom Prize of the city of Milan. Jamshidi's newspaper was recently shut down by the Iranian judiciary for publishing pictures of women without a veil and his wife, Asia's publisher, will have to stand trial in the coming days. The veil-less women in the photos were US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, one of her predecessors Madeleine Albright and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"They had already forced us to shut down three years ago because we had published the photograph of an Iranian dissident," Jamshidi told Adnkronos International (AKI). The editor said he was at the time detained for 410 days, forced to spend over 200 days in solitary confinement and questioned 109 times. READ MORE

"After the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at presidential elections [last year] we were the only secular voice left in the country and today, following Asia's closure, Iranians who are in favour of a secular state don't have a means to express their opinion," he said.

Iraj Jamshidi however is optimistic about the future.

"The fact that the Islamic Republic has been under the spotlight for the past few months and that our country has become a topic of discussion at all international gatherings makes me think that the time for a radical change has come," said the editor.

He added that "this time the West has been forced to deal with Iran for security reasons and will thus act with more determination," referring to an international crisis sparked by Iran's atomic programme, which Western powers fear is aimed at building nuclear weapons.

The editor of Asia said he believed Iran is seriously risking a conflict with the US and its allies while expressing the wish for "change that will lead to the end of the Islamic regime and lead to a democratic and secular system."