Iran's New Culture Minister Denounces Past Censorship


Credit: Government of Iran/wikimedia

Adding credence to the claims that Iran's current leadership is moving in a more moderate direction, one Iranian official recently denounced the level of censorship carried out by the previous administration.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reports that executive Cultural Minister Ali Jannati criticized the apparently inconsistent and ill-conceived black-listing of books that took place under former-President Mahmud Ahmadinejad:

Jannati said he had reviewed some of the titles that the administration of former Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad censored and concluded that in many cases, censors had objected to "irrelevant" issues.

He also said in many instances censors had based their decisions on personal opinions, and added that the reviewers lacked the necessary expertise.

RFE/RL points to cases during the Ahmadinejad administration, such as one poet who had all but two pages of a book censored. Even classical books of national significance were banned in an attempt to eliminate "material deemed immoral, anti-Islamic, or politically sensitive."

Jannati, who joined President Hassan Rouhani's administration in August, went so far as to say that Ahmadinejad's censorship was so vigorous that religious writings were at risk, "If the Koran hadn't been sent by God and we had handed it to book censors, they wouldn't have issued permission to publish it and would have argued that some of the words in it are against public virtue." The official state religion, as well as 90 percent of the population, is Shitte Islam.

Nevertheless, there are limits to the the Rouhani administration's more moderate tendencies. Jannati does not believe in complete freedom of the press. He questioned, "How can we allow some problematic books to poison the society?"

This may not be enough for the nation's writers and publishers. According to RFE/RL, "many have spoken out against the rules, warning that censorship has caused a decline in the number of books published in Iran and in readership levels." Over 200 writers and publishers signed an open letter to the culture minister requesting that the government stop telling them how to conduct their businesses. 

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  1. Adding credence to the claims that Iran’s current leadership is moving in a more moderate direction.

    This is going to end up being the biggest gift of the information age. All these various dictatorships are going to moderate or fall. Heavily oppressed people are going to begin claiming the freedom that is their birthright. Silicon Valley is doing more to bring freedom to the world than any government ever has.

    1. As the USA continues its slippery slide into a totalitarian police state.

      1. Net Neutrality will fix that by having the FCC regulate every packet in America.

    2. Maybe. Problem is, in many Islamic countries they see that freedom as being free to impose Allah’s laws, which aren’t that free.

      1. I suspect that if people in those places start to see a bit more prosperity, they will start to question the legitimacy of Allah’s laws as well.

        1. The difference is between Muslims under Islamist theocracies, who will turn against Islamism, and Muslims under secular dictatorships, who will see Islamism as a way out of their oppression.

          The problem is that the Islamists won’t give up power simply because the people turn against them. If the people don’t accept the regime’s version of Islam, so much the worse for the people!

          Still, I hope the Iranian regime is genuinely thawing.

          1. ^Good points

    3. If you say so. So far, it seems to me that as good as the internet is its utility as a mechanism for pro-liberty interests is far from established.

  2. The mullahs do this shit all the time. Release a few political prisoners, pretend to lighten up on a few laws, and then when they move out of the spotlight its back to hangin the gays again.……html?_r=0

    1. This exactly.

      “Oh, wow – they SAID some shit!”

      Let’s get back together a year from now, then two years from now, and see what they’re DOING.

      Cause if I were going by what people SAID, the tides would have receded, my healthcare cost wouldn’t be going up FIFTY FUCKING PERCENT next year, and the US President would actually engage in dialogue with his “opponents”.

      But none of that shit happened – weird!

      1. Well, I don’t believe that the tides have risen a noticeable amount, to there’s that.

        1. ‘so’ there’s that. Damn infernal laptop.

      2. Kind of like how our government constantly contradicts its high-minded rhetoric with shady actions? “The most transparent administration in history,” etc.

  3. denounced the level of censorship carried out by the previous administration.

    Is this going to be like Gil Kerlikowske striking a more moderate tone on the war on drugs?

  4. Plus, we are changing the way we beat dissidents. The old administration used an entirely too large rubber hose. The hose will be a half-inch smaller in diameter.

  5. This will change little, John McCain, a long time friend of censorship himself, will likely argue that this is actually another good reason to bomb Iran.

  6. English language jibber-jabber by some weird beard who holds authority in a totalitarian theocratic regime doesn’t really impress me much.

    let me know when they actually start revoking their censorship laws and you can buy and carry a copy of The Satanic Verses in plain view without fear of consequence.

  7. Damn, but people are negative. Sure, this is just words, but this is also about the first time they’ve even said anything like this – ten years ago even saying it would have been unimaginable. Give credit where credit is due, people.

    1. I think I am.

      PS Were I the President, I’d be engaged in diplomatic discussions with Iran on an ongoing basis. Cause = hold enemies closer, etc. But I don’t give two shits what Aye Caramba Homeslice has to say about anything, regardless that it’s “remarkable”. Fuck ’em – actions count, everything else is bullshit.

    2. This kind of thing has been said before. Iran had a more moderate prez in the ’90s and it was meaningless. This is just Reason grasping at straws to justify more Iran appeasement.


        1. Cytotoxic is correct, and I didn’t see any idiotic allusions to Nazi Germany on his part.

          Almost every new regime tries to rhetorically orient themselves in a pro-Western way to receive funding or space from wealthy Western powers to implement various internal prerogatives. This later becomes impossible for regimes and individuals when they are known quantities. Even Ahmadinejad sounded more moderate at the beginning of his term than at the end.


          2. I was responding to his stupid line about “appeasement” which interventionists always use to compare any objection to war to Chamberlain and Hitler (and don’t be obtuse and pretend like that is not a very common occurrence).

            I agree that I’ll believe that Iran’s government is moderating when I see it.

            1. I looked up again and see that Cyto did say that. I thought that was someone else.

              1. Ok, no problem

            2. Plus, the more you read about Chamberlain, the harder it is to stick him with a complete appeaser label. Don’t get me wrong, selling out the Czechs was inexcusable. And he followed that up by making a stupid guarantee to Poland.

              BUT, by 1938, his fear was massed German bomber fleets leveling London as they’d done in Spain. England & France went into massive military build-ups after Munich. In effect, they sacrificed the Czechs to buy time for themselves. Bastards. But real-politik bastards.

              1. Why exactly, from a British perspective, would “selling out” a weaker European country be inexcusable? It wasn’t his job to protect Eastern Europe from Hitler, and it’s weird that people think it was

                1. True. But it also wasn’t necessary for Chamberlain to go to Munich and facilitate the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. You don’t have to defend them but you also don’t have to be an enabler.

        2. This is still a more sensible string of text than anything the peacenazis can come up with.

          1. Says the guy who makes posts in all seriousness that have the complexity of a kindergartner’s idea of an argument, where the world is divided into “The Good Guys” and “The Bad Guys” (all capitalized of course) and all foreign policy is as simple as “The Good Guys” (which for some insane reason includes the US government) killing “The Bad Guys”

            1. Not to mention someone who thinks every toddler at Hiroshima had it coming. It wasn’t even a necessary evil to nuke the Japs to Cyto, it was a “glorious moral pinnacle”

      2. Because Iran really gives a fuck what Reason Magazine says.

      3. I mean, I agree that this dick’s words should count for about nothing. But how is reporting that that is what he said in any way promoting or justifying “appeasement” of Iran?
        The use of the term “appeasement” is a lame attempt to equate Iran with Nazi Germany. Iran’s government is terrible and authoritarian and dangerous, but they are not Nazi Germany by a long stretch. If anyone was suggesting that we ought to let Iran take over the eastern half of Iraq or something, it might make sense. But failure to bang the war drums loud enough is not appeasement.

      4. Okay. A couple of imple questions. What policies could these bastards implement that would make you less eager to unleash the full brunt of U.S. military might against them? What policies could they follow that would make you okay with normalizing relations with them?

        1. Bombing their own country and hanging themselves.

          1. /sarc

        2. Convert to Judaism and kiss Netanyahu’s finger while singing the Star-Spangled Banner

        3. But, Eduard & Ryan, that’s just my point. It doesn’t seem that there’s any policy, short of suicide or just going away, that the Iranians can follow that will satisfy the Iran hawks. “We hateses you!!” doesn’t amount to a rational geo-strategy.

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