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Iranian reformist daily closed over “I am Charlie” front page

Mardom-e Emrooz' front page, 13 January 2015
Mardom-e Emrooz' front page, 13 January 2015

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This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 19 January 2014.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the closure of Mardom-e Emrooz, a new reformist daily newspaper, for publishing a front-page photo of US actor George Clooney beneath a headline that quoted him as saying “I am Charlie.”

A closure order issued by the Tehran public prosecutor on 17 January was confirmed today by the Committee for Press Authorization and Surveillance (an offshoot of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance), which said it was withdrawing the newspaper's permit for “insulting Islam.”

Mardom-e Emrooz had published only 19 issues. As soon as its launch was announced, conservative media, especially those that support the Revolutionary Guards, began pressing for its closure.

They included the ultra-conservative daily Kayhan, Supreme Leader Ali Khameini's mouthpiece, which also called for the arrest of its journalists, including editor Mohammed Ghoochani.

According to Ghoochani, he and his staff decided on the “I am Charlie” front-page before Charlie-Hebdo came out with its latest issue with a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed on the front cover.

“This is not the first time that the conservative media, and especially the extremist Kayhan, have ordered a newspaper's closure and that the judicial authorities and Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance have then carried out the order,” said Reza Moini, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Iran-Afghanistan desk.

“The strategy of these hate media compounds the arbitrary behaviour of government officials, who already have many repressive judicial mechanisms at their disposal for silencing independently-minded media.”

One of the world's most repressive countries as regards freedom of information, Iran is ranked 173rd out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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