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Leading Iranian reformist daily closed down

Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published: Monday September 11, 2006

Tehran- Iran's leading reformist daily Sharq ("east") was closed down by the country's authorities Monday, state news agency IRNA reported. Iran's Press Supervisory Board had ordered Sharq managing director Mehdi Rahmanian to rein in the daily's activities after it published articles that the Board said insulted religious, political and national figures and fomented discord.

State television reported that the closure came after the daily failed to introduce a new managing director within the legal time period of one month after Rahmanian's contract ended.

The student news agency ISNA however reported that the closure of the daily was linked to the daily's publication of a cartoon that showed a chessboard with only white fields leaving no room for the black pieces to move.

The cartoon was interpreted as criticism against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's political style as well as his preventing other political factions from raising their voices.

Rahmanian said the Press Supervisory Board was not authorized to interpret cartoons and close down a daily as a result, adding that an impartial court should decide in these cases, the ISNA reported.

Last month, government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elam indicated a new move by the government to limit local press sources critical of Ahmadinejad's policies.

Elam said the press should clarify the line between criticism and accusation and warned that those dailies distributing ambiguous reports in the press would have to face the judiciary.

© 2006 DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agenteur