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Commission bans Iran's leading feminist magazine

Source: Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Without Borders condemns a decision by the Commission for Press Authorisation and Surveillance on 28 January to suspend the feminist monthly Zanan ("Women" in Farsi) for "publishing information detrimental to society's psychological tranquillity."

The press freedom organisation is also concerned about a summons received by Jila Bani Yaghoub of the daily Sarmayeh on 23 January from a Tehran revolutionary court in connection with a case for which she was arrested in March.

"The Commission for Press Authorisation and Surveillance is the judiciary's right arm in its crusade against news media that stray from the official line," Reporters Without Borders said. "It has been responsible for the suspension of many publications which the courts subsequently close down for good, often imprisoning their journalists. In Iran, the right to information is still seen as a threat to national security."

The commission accused Zanan of "offering a sombre picture of the Islamic Republic," "compromising its readers' mental health" and "publishing morally questionable information." Editor Shahla Sherkat, who disputes the legal validity of the charges, said she had not yet been officially notified of the suspension. Regarded as the country's leading feminist magazine, it has been a forum for debating Iranian society's most controversial topics since its creation 16 years ago.

Dozens of news media have been suspended by the commission since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became president. Deputy state prosecutor Nasser Saraji told the official news agency ISNA in October that the commission had suspended 42 publications and cancelled 24 licences since 2005. Other newspapers have been temporarily or provisionally suspended by the courts. Those suspended since October include Krafto, Ashati, Arzesh, Bilmaj and Madareseh.

Yaghoub is being prosecuted for covering a women's demonstration on 4 March 2007, when she was arrested and held for three days. She is charged with "participating in an illegal demonstration," "activity against national security" and "publicity against the Islamic Republic."

Other journalists and cyber-feminists who attended the demonstration are also still being prosecuted. But journalist and blogger Asieh Amini (, independent journalist Fatemeh Govarayee and activist Susan Tahmassebi, the editor of the English-language version of were acquitted on 21 January.

... Payvand News - 01/31/08 ... --

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