Iran has gagged a newspaper which declared “Je Suis Charlie” in a front page story featuring George Clooney’s Golden Globes acceptance speech.
An Iranian media watchdog on Saturday 17 January ordered the closure of the newspaper Mardom-e Emrooz (meaning People of Today) for an article expressing solidarity with those who perished in the Charlie Hebdo Paris shootings – as the magazine last week published a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.
On 13 January, the daily newspaper ran with the headline “Clooney: I am also Charlie” in an article quoting George Clooney’s Golden Globes speech. As a result, an Iranian court also suspended the publishing licence of the newspaper, which was only launched on 27 December.
— Abas Aslani (@abasinfo) January 17, 2015
MP Zohreh Tayebzadeh spearheaded a call from a number of conservative media companies and 69 other members of parliament, threatening to impeach Ali Jannati, Iran's minister of culture and Islamic guidance, if no action was taken to suspend the newspaper.
Tayebzadeh said: “If the culture minister does not firmly confront this newspaper, then he would be the subject of an impeachment.”
The joint letter of complaint, sent to Jannati read: “Why doesn’t the Press Oversight Committee issue a warning to the newspaper that has promoted the French publication that has insulted the Prophet of Islam?”
A statement issued today by Iranian newsite IranWire highlighted the need for reform in the country: “The battle over free expression has just begun in Iran, with Rouhani and his administration pitted against hardliners, who are deeply entrenched in both parliament and the judiciary.
“The closure of Mardom-e Emrouz is a reminder of how bitter the fight will be, and illustrates how much power hardliners command.”