Daily Israel Report

Iran to Review Censorship on Books

Rouhani's regime continues to revamp the rules on censorship, will review books that have been barred from publication.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 10/22/2013, 6:13 AM

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani
Reuters

The new Iranian regime, headed by President Hassan Rouhani, is continuing to revamp the rules regarding the country’s long-time policy of censorship.

Iran's Culture Minister Ali Janati said Monday that his department will review a ban imposed on certain books which censors have barred from publication, according to an AFP report.

"Those books subjected to censorship or denied permission to be published in the past will be reviewed again and new decisions will be made," the Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Janati as saying.

All publications in Iran must be approved by the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance to ensure they comply with the Islamic republic's strict code of morality.

Tehran also blocks access to numerous websites, including Facebook and Twitter, to stop Iranians from browsing content it considers immoral, or as undermining the regime.

Publishers complained of tighter censorship during the 2005-2013 mandate of hardline former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Janati's remarks seem to reflect pledges made by Rouhani, who promised more social freedoms during his election campaign.

"Our approach towards freedom of the press and books as well as relaxing the atmosphere for writers and thinkers is different from the past and its results will gradually become apparent," said Janati, according to AFP.

Iran’s civil rights record and censorship is regularly criticized by international watchdogs and Western governments.

Earlier this month Janati criticized the strict censorship of books under Ahmadinejad's rule.

"I sadly learned that some books were denied permission to be published only on the grounds of personal opinions," the reformist daily Arman quoted Janati as saying.

"I think if the Koran was not a divine revelation, when it was handed to the book supervisory board, they would say some words did not comply with public chastity and would deny it permission for publication," he added.

In a speech he delivered a month before being sworn in, Rouhani said that a strong government does not “limit the lives of the people.”

“We need a strong society, a strong government. Today, the ground has been prepared for popular participation. The people have pinned their hopes on the future. A strong government does not mean a government that interferes and intervenes in all affairs. It is not a government that limits the lives of people. This is not a strong government,” he said.

Two weeks after his victory in the elections, Rouhani told a popular Iranian youth magazine that he believed social networking sites such as Facebook were a welcome phenomenon.

He also told the magazine that he is opposed to segregation of sexes in society, would work to minimize censorship and believes internet filtering is futile.