Iran to re-examine banned books: minister

AFP, Tuesday 22 Oct 2013

Iranian culture minister says books subjected to censorship or denied permission to be published in the past will be reviewed

Iran's Culture Minister Ali Janati said Monday his department will review a ban imposed on certain books which censors have barred from publication, the official IRNA news agency reported.

"Those books subjected to censorship or denied permission to be published in the past will be reviewed again and new decisions will be made," 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 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 Ahmadinejad's moderate successor, Hassan 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.

Iran's civil rights record and censorship is regularly criticised by international watchdogs and Western governments.
Earlier this month Janati criticised 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 said.

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