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Iranian judiciary chief calls for stricter controls on the press

TEHRAN, May 7 (AFP) - Iran's judiciary chief Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi called Friday for stricter controls on the press and literary works in the Islamic republic, saying they must abide by "moral values."

"The media must provide correct information and must not lie, especially dailies, because people are exposed to them everyday. But above all, they must be strictly controlled," Yazdi, also a senior conservative cleric, said at weekly prayers in Tehran.

"The system's duty is to raise people's awareness on Islamic teachings, we must not allow anyone to bring down that level," he said.

The conservative cleric also criticized certain literary works.

"Novels which teach the game of love to young people ... are misleading. The young Iranian who does not have the material means to get married and cannot ask his parent's for help will be misled by these novels."

Yazdi's comments come less than a week after moderate Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani fought off a parliamentary impeachment motion charging him with "laxity" in his handling of the press and the defence of Islamic values.

Mohajerani, a close ally of President Mohammad Khatami, has been the driving force behind moves to easing restrictions on the press and cultural activities.

The number of newspapers and magazines permitted to publish in Iran has soared since Khatami came to power in 1997.


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