Iran cracks down on lifestyle magazines 

New York, March 19, 2008—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Iranian government’s ban on nine lifestyle and cinema magazines because of their content about foreign film stars and their promotion of “superstitions.”

This latest wave of shuttering publications, spearheaded by the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry, occurred on Sunday. The Press Supervisory Board, part of the ministry, banned the magazines for publishing “photographs of corrupt foreign artists and details about their decadent lives” and “advertising for forbidden medicines and articles contrary to morality and offensive to the ethnic minorities,” Agence France-Presse reported.

“This unrelenting war on freedom of expression has reached absurd proportions,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “The Iranian state is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights, which enshrines freedom of expression and the free flow of information. We call on the government to immediately rescind their ban on these lifestyle magazines.”

The magazines include Donya-ye Tasvir (World of the Image), Sobh-e Zendegi (Morning of Life), Talash (Effort), and Haft (Seven), according to AFP. The latest issue of Donya-ye Tasvir published pictures and articles about several female Hollywood stars, including Naomi Watts, Reese Witherspoon, and Nicole Kidman.

The London-based daily Al-Hayat quoted the editor of Donya-ye Tasvir, Ali Moallam, as saying today that the ban of his magazine “came as a message to the Iranian movie industry.” He added that the next to be targeted “would be all writers, screenwriters, film school students, and film directors in Iran.”

The Press Supervisory Board, which is tightly controlled by hard-liners, also warned 13 other publications about the consequences of not abiding by the stringent provisions of the Iranian press law.

In January, the Press Supervisory Board, which ordered the closure of at least 11 publications in 2007, according to CPJ research, banned the reform-minded Zanan (Women) magazine without official explanation after nearly 16 years in print.