The weekly Ya Lesarat, the official publication of the ultraconservative vigilante group Ansar-e Hezbollah, has been suspended by Iran’s Press Oversight Committee for printing a sexual smear campaign about actors’ wives.
“Using such rude language, which has no place in our culture, amounts to a violation of the Press Law, therefore this publication has been suspended,” said Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry Spokesperson Hossein Noushabadi on August 1, 2016.
On July 28 Ya Lesarat published a feature under the headline, “Dayyous Keest?” (Who’s a Cuckold?), with photographs of Iranian film and television actors, claiming they have “no honor” for allowing their wives to appear in public with allegedly improper hijabs. The word “dayyous” refers to husbands who allow their wives to have intercourse with other men.
The feature was criticized by the Screen Actors Guild of Iran, which called on the Judiciary to take action against the “affront” against the acting community. “Unfortunately, Ya Lesarat has used an improper and lewd word against actors and their families without any justification,” it said in a statement.
While publicly disapproving of the wives’ style choices, the outspoken conservative MP Ahmad Tavakkoli meanwhile said Ya Lesarat was the “bigger loser” for resorting to insults.
“If someone wants to publish photos and criticize these sorts of appearances it should be done without identifying the persons, otherwise it would be considered a sin,” he wrote on his Telegram network channel on July 31.
Ya Lesarat has a history of defaming women, especially female activists, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, Zanan (Women) magazine editor Shahla Sherkat, and women’s rights lawyer Shadi Sadr.
Last December the Vice President for Women’s and Family Affairs Shahindokht Mowlaverdithreatened to sue the weekly for describing her as “worse than the most famous prostitute in the world.” Shortly afterwards its permit was revoked by the Press Monitoring Board on January 4, 2016, but it resumed publication two days later.
Ansar-e Hezbollah, the extremist group behind Ya Lesarat, is fiercely loyal to Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, and is believed to enjoy his full support. The group is known for its violent rhetoric and actions, especially against women not adhering to hardline notions of hijab or proper female attire.
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