By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
Some Iranians are protesting against a state media ban on former President Mohammad Khatami by posting his pictures on social media under the hashtag "We will be Khatami's media" (in Persian: #رسانه_خاتمی_میشویم)
The ban was formally announced earlier this week by judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei who said that, according to a judicial order, media don't have the right to mention Khatami and to publish his statements and photographs.
Ejei did not say whether the order was a new decision or whether it was a reinstatement of a ruling that was reportedly sent to media in 2010 banning them from mentioning opposition leaders Mir Hossein Musavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavard, reformist cleric Mehdi Karrubi, as well as Khatami.
Khatami's call for the release of Musavi, Rahnavard, and Karrubi who have been under house arrest since February 2011, has angered hard-liners.
The reformist Khatami who was president from 1997 to 2005, remains popular and the decision to ban media from mentioning him and publishing his photos, has angered many of his supporters.
Within hours of Ejei's comments being made public, a Facebook page titled "We Will Be Khatami's Media" was launched where administrators began been posting photos of users along with Khatami or solo images of the former president. The Facebook page has so far garnered more than 10,000 likes.
"Your pictures have been [censored] in the press, but one of your photos is still hanging on my wall," reads one comment posted on the Facebook page under a photo of Khatami.
Others have turned to Twitter to protest against the ban on Khatami.
They said it's forbidden?! Let's share the photo of both Mohammad Khatami and Mirhussein Moussavi. pic.twitter.com/MnMFFUQtlB— Mahdi Taghizadeh (@mahdi) February 17, 2015
از آرشيو تصاوير؛ همراه با حجت الإسلام و المسلمين سيد محمدخاتمي فروردين ١٣٩٠ pic.twitter.com/00d0v124j9— bayatzanjani.net (@ABayatzanjani) February 16, 2015
Social networking sites are among the very few platforms where Iranians can express themselves and criticize state policies with relative freedom.
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