Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Press vs. the Government became the latest media outlet to be closed or filtered by the Islamic Republic. Baztab reports that it has been subjected to severe filtering inside Iran, making it difficult for the readers to access the site. What makes this move particularly startling is the fact that the site belongs to Mohsen Rezaie, the former commander of the Revolutionary Guards and the current Executive Secretary of the Expediency Council. If Rezaie is not immune, can anyone publish an independent site or newspaper in today’s Iran?

Media played a decisive role in bringing about the reform period of 1997-2005. A group of Ministry of Intelligence agents, led by Saeed Emami, started a violent campaign against pro-democracy and reformist journalists during the period which led to the murder of dozens of journalists and writers.

Today, with the government controlled by anti-reformists, the pressure is exerted by officially sanctioned methods. Media outlets and their editors regularly receive written official notices from the Ministry of Islamic Guidance, the Ministry of Intelligence and the National Security Council on what not to cover (although the practice is explicitly illegal under the country’s press laws). They dictate their views and, reportedly, even words to the press. The Iranian media today is under the most severe control by numerous official agencies than ever before.

It such alarming atmosphere, it is particularly heartening that the former Mayor of Tehran, Gholamhossein Karbaschi, will be starting a new daily, hammihan. Mohammad Ghoochani, the editor-in-chief of Shargh, will be the chief editor at hammihan. We congratulate them both and wish them the best in their critically important project.

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