The First Attacks on the Press in Iran


Jahanshah Rashidian
by Jahanshah Rashidian

In early 1978, the Shah persuaded by Carter’s human rights campaign, simulated an open political atmosphere. Certain political prisoners, for whom fierce campaign has been waged for years, were released. Major newspapers, like Keyhan and Etela’at, were allowed to publish articles criticising the government. New publications appeared and public places were used for political meetings.

February 1, 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini arrived in Iran after 17 years of exile and made the following statement:

“The Shah has destroyed our economy and whole country is today in chaos. He kept our culture backward. We are not against the cinema. We are not against radio and TV. When have we ever acted against modernisation? The blood of our young people was sacrificed for liberty. We have been living under oppression for 50 years”.

Now we know what Khomeini said what he had to do, not what he meant. The first to learn what Khomeini meant by liberty were Iranian women. The regime ordered them to hide themselves in the “chador“, veil. The second issue was the freedom of press which only enjoyed a short period of freedom. Censorship was underway to establish its grips once again.

To illustrate what happened to the press, we must show the role that Khomeini himself played in the case of Ayandegan, the first popular newspaper to be suspended. His office wrote:

“What Ayandegan wrote about the martyrdom of Ayatollah Motahari, an Islamic philosopher, was a complete lie. Since the very first day of the revolution, this paper has played a divisive role and worked against the interests of our Islamic nation. This newspaper is not acceptable and will not be accepted by our responsible and revolutionary Muslims. The Imam has told us that from now on, he will not read this newspaper. Of course, the work of its editorial board is completely different from the work of its responsible Muslim workers”.

This announcement was broadcasted by National Radio and TV which were controlled by Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, a dubious architect of the Islamic revolution, later; he was executed on the charge of conspiracy against the regime. The following day, Ayandegan appeared with only four pages: one of them writing and three blank. Ayandegan was shut down on August 9, 1979. It was the beginning of IRI’s crackdown on the press.

Short after Ayandegan, the regime dismissed 20 writers from Keyhan newspaper, confiscated Etela’at, another Tehran paper; destroyed Peygham Emrooz completely and attempt to assassinate its editor, Reza Marzban.

At this time, the regime began to restructure the Savak, the secret police under the Shah.

Mr. Mostafa Chamran, an organiser of the Islamic Amal operations in Southern Lebanon, was chosen to head the new office, now called Savama. Then the editor of a magazine, Tehran Mosavar, received a warning letter from the new secret police, Savama, warning him “not to interfere in the political affairs of the country, reported, an Iranian weekly published abroad. The Savama is ever since a secret organ of general repression, including repression on the press. The hunger for books and papers was an important sign of a revolutionary situation. In a country with a literacy rate of 50%, there were lines several blocks long in front of bookstores and newsstands.

During the Shah’s time, most books were printed in editions of 1,500 copies, with the exception of the Koran and some popular poets. After the revolution, books went into a second or third printing with 10,000 copies in each edition. In the first 6 months, 2 million books were legally printed and sold, books which would have brought prison under the Shah. Another 2 million books were clandestinely distributed, and 2 million more were imported.

This hunger of enlightenment was not to be tolerated by the Islamic regime. A new campaign started blocking the people’s understanding of their own situation. Books were removed from stores and libraries and destroyed by Hezbollah, IRI’s thugs.

The second phase of attack on the press began on 13, 1980, with the bombing of Bamdad, a Tehran paper. The Writers and Press Union condemned this attack as a threat to basic freedom. This time the regime avoided using its thugs to dictate their wishes and so it entered the new era of bombs.

Khomeini issues a special order: “When a book is written, before it is published, specialists should examine and study it, lest it be an anti-Islamic”, reported on January 9, 1980, Iranshah, a newspaper serving the Persian-speaking abroad. After this order, most publications and some printing shops, without being formally charged by the judicial authorities, were shut down by force.

Each time a paper or magazine was suppressed, a window on the freedom was closed to people. The newspaper offices were attacked as well, some of them were set on fire; books store were plundered and burned; booksellers, writers and newspapers vendors were harassed and arrested. Not one day passes when the office of a paper-even a legal one- was not assaulted or set on fire because its contents were not pleasant to a group of backward-minded clergy.

In a just a few weeks, hundreds of primary and high school students were arrested on charges of selling banned newspapers—a number of them were later executed. On April 14, 1980, Iranshahr said: Khomeini ordered a purge at the National Radio and TV. A warning from the Office of General Prosecutor to anyone who cooperates with illegal publications and the replacement of the directors of Keyhan and Etala’at by the Office of the Imam were the next major steps toward limiting the freedom of the press.

On July 23rd, after an attack on its central office, the Bamdad newspaper was closed down. Bamdad had been established three months after the revolution. Since the shutdown of Ayandegan , Bamdad was the only reliable newspaper which had managed to keep its independence. Without Bamdad, there were no more independent publications in Iran. The only legal newspapers were owned by Bani Sadr’s supporters (Abdol Hassan Bani Sadr the first IRI’s President), or supporters of the Islamic Republic Party (IRP). This situation of course did not last. One year after the suspension of Bamdad, with the victory of the IRP over Bani Sadr and his dismissal, Enghelab-Eslami and five other daily publications were closed down.

On June 12, 1981, the Office of the Revolutionary Prosecutor ordered six newspapers shut down, charging them with insulting public opinion and acting against the Imam’s twelve point orders. These papers were:

Enghelab-Eslami, Mizan, Payam-e-Jebheh- Melli, Arman-e-Mellat and Mardom, the daily publication of the Tudeh Party, a pro-Soviet party which collaborated with the “anti-imperialist” IRI in the first years of bloody repression--it is to mention that Mardom was a pro-IRI publication and later was published for a while under another name.

A year after the revolution, there was nothing was left from the short period of relatively freedom of pen and speech in Iran. Out of nearly 100 newspapers which were published during the mass uprising of February, 1979, only a few could survive. After the regime’s systematic takeover of the media continued, the answer to the pro-IRI publications, there was only underground press published under extremely dangerous conditions. As we know, the price for holding or distributing these papers was death.

More stunning revelation of the early repression was not the elimination of the free press, but the creation of such a press that rather than protect itself against totalitarianism, it bends to its demands. By striving to merge their individual identities with one or another faction of the system, many minds and hearts from artists to intellectuals and from students to professors and from journalists to writers and from inside to outside the country absorbed directives while endeavouring to fulfil the mandate of the one or another faction of the IRI.

The IRI’s mandate for such a press does not forcibly mean to repeat enthusiastic slogans of pro-IRI or even to ban limited critical reports; more typically, it attempts to promote a political apathy into the society.


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Thank you Mr. Rashidian, as

by Anonymous1 (not verified) on

Thank you Mr. Rashidian, as usual, your comments were quite informative.
Many of us have gradually become aware of the treasonous nature of the '79 revolution and its founders. The notion of the Shia Islamic state was a Lebenese import and most Iranians were not aware of it. Most of the ruling click have been traveling to south Lebenon for years. The intriguing part is how a foreign element under the guise of Shia religion could transcend ethnic and cultural barriers, as far away as south Lebenon ?

Most people would agree that the war with Iraq was a god sent to the Islamic regime and helped to legitimize it. Historically, this is true for most wars, especially if the prevailing side can claim victory. This was not exactly the case with Iraq, as it took US intervention in 1988 to save mullahs from total collapse and re-invasion of southern Iran by Saddam.

The regime survived Saddam's test mainly from patriotism of the population. However, it became apparent that in 8 years of conflict the Iran-Arab ethnic differences were stronger than the Islamic-Shia bonds, much to the dislike of the treasonous founders of the Islamic republic.

I would not be surprised to learn that much of the public in Iran are still not aware of the foreign nature of the Islamic republic's ruling gansters. Public ignorance and synergistic relations between descendents of Jebel Amel immigrants and extremists of south Lebenon can be the only reason for treason on such a scale.


RASHIDIAN is a member of MKO

by Ashraf Kosso Pahlavi (not verified) on

This Rashidian character who lives in Germany is a member of MKO. Now that their butts are being kicked in Iraq (Ashraf City -- their base) their agents (such as Rashidian) around the world are trying to divert attention and deflect their failure. This is the same bunch that called Saddam their daddy (Pedar Saddam), and their public bathroom is Maryam Rajavi's koss. Their "master" is idiot Masood who is now hiding in the well that Ahmadinejad dug for him in Jamaran.


Q=Hezbollah= Chamran

by Taheri (not verified) on

This Q guy and other Islamist thugs on this site are the ragged traitors to Iran and Iranians. They are a few, but are good organized by the Mullahs to look a lot on this site.
They will pay for hundreds of thousands of Iranians who were killed, tortured, humiliated by their Mullahs.

Jahanshah Rashidian

R: Ananymou 1, Mostafa Chamran

by Jahanshah Rashidian on

Thank you for your comments, as you mentioned, Chamran was a member of Shiite Amal of southern Lebanon during the sectarian war in this region. He was a devotee of Shiite Musa Sadr . He could fihgt "jihad" in any country or any front against any “enemy “of Islam. When his dreamful shiite God's state happened to be in Iran, not Lebanon, he joined this new reign. Then, he used his militant experiences from Lebanon to form the Savama and along with his closed brothers, Gotbzadeh, Yazdi, Islamic Mojahedins created an atmosphere of Islamic lumpanism which later became a base for many existing suppressive organs of the IRI.

As the minister of defence, he purged many "non-Muslim"personals of the army and imposed Islamic values, rituals on the rest. As said, Chamran was a fanatic Muslim, his death "on the front" remains a dubious death like many other inner purges of the IRI.

What remains an absolute, his "martyrdom" was not for the cause of Iran and Iranian people because such an Islamist could fight in any front, in any country, beside any side for Islam, and for a plague like the IRI in any part of the world.


Mostafa Chamran

by Anonymous1 (not verified) on

Chamran was an islamist thug, a traitor to Iranians and Iranian culture. He was one of the founders of Islamic republic (armed wing), a descendent of the Jebbel Amel mullahs imported from Lebenon by Safavids in 15th century. He aspired to and established his forefather's dream; a Shia (a la Jebbel Amel) Islamic republic, in Iran or anywhere else in the region. He was slain by his arabic speaking brethren who had invaded Iran largely in response to the threat of the Jebbel Amel Shia control of Iran, back in 1981.

He was also the founder of the islamic republic's SAVAMA and the subsequent crimes against Iranians.

As for his PhD, many more "true" Iranians have obtained similar degrees, from the same university and are productive and respectful members of their societies. All of that without even performing "Zebhe Eslami" in the bath tub of their dormitories.


Spring of '79

by Anonymous1 (not verified) on

Thank you!
As a point of interest, at the same time, the islamist were waging a losing campaign in publishing their ideological books and papers. Their contents were disturbing and comedic at the same time, and were by no means the center of public debate at that time.

The US embassy take over changed all of that, of course. The carefully staged rallies in front of the embassy quickly gathered momentum for the islamists and were used as the platform to become more assertive and reverse their earlier compromising position.


enthusiastic support?

by jade hassan (not verified) on

boy are you slow!

Jahanshah Rashidian

R: Iran and Iranian

by Jahanshah Rashidian on

Thank you for your enthusistic support for the piece.

Best wishes for a free and secular Iran!



Mostafa Chamran

by Q on

Mr. Mostafa Chamran, an organiser of the Islamic Amal operations in Southern Lebanon,

How dishonest of you, Rashidian. This is all you can mention about Chamran?

Chamran was a PhD from Berkeley who gave his life for Iran in the battlefields of Khorramshahr. What have you done for your country, Mr. Rashidian? Support those who were shooting on the other side?


Stop genecide of Iranians by Islamist cultists

by Iran and Iranian (not verified) on

This writing is great for all to know about Iranian genocide. Of course, this genocide did not start in 1979. In 1979, this Iranian and Iranian culture genocide was the continuation of original Islamist’s attempt. The conduct was the same. To name few here: Attacking our culture, changing our national anthem to Arabic, burning our books, stopping our music, exploiting, enslaving, and torturing our brave Iranian women by forcing them to wear dim-witted chador and scarf, closing our newspapers, forcing Islam cult to men by having them to grow beards for being part of clan for survival, closing our universities first and then turning them to mosques, forcing Iranians to exodus, closing our theaters and art centers, turning our long fought and gained constitution laws to idiotic and barbaric Sharia laws (women are half men, all Iranian men and women are sheep and need to be goaded by non-Iranian and unelected valayet-faghi), and made our beautiful language to be perished by Arabic language.

This writing is great for all those who grew up after 1979 Iranian and Iranian cultural genocide. Thanks to Mr. Jahanshah Rashidian.

Iranians can tolerate Islam but Islam can not tolerate Iranians.
Stop genecide of Iranians by Islamist cultists.


To Amoo: Your Islam cult burns our libaries, books, papers

by on your face (not verified) on

To Amoo: Your Islam cult burns our libaries, books, papers, .....

We are Iranians. You get it. We are Iranians.

Mr. JR is against this Islam cult and MKO. You attempt is showing how bankrupt Islam is.

Go wipe your shit with your hands and then put them over your face.


Write an Article About Crimes of Your Brother Rajavi

by Amoo (not verified) on

You responded to one of my comments several days ago. I did not get a change to read careful or to respond to it at that time. When I had time to respond I could not find your post, I think it was removed from the You had stated something like that you are not an MKO member. I think you are. Therefore, it is time to come clean. To do that, you can write an article describing crimes of your brother Masoud Jajavi. Otherwise, you will remain an MKO member and you know what that means.

Ben Madadi

Before that...

by Ben Madadi on

The free press had a similar fate also in the early 1900's, just after Reza Khan took control. There must also be some relevant studies for that period, during and immediately after the Constitutional movement. The Internet nowadays certainly allows all those who are truly interested in informing themselves. Even Iranians within Iran can access non-IRI press, though with some difficulty. However, alas not yet many Iranians are interested.
Thanks again for your writing :)

Jahanshah Rashidian

R: Ben Madadi

by Jahanshah Rashidian on

Thank you for reading and commenting the piece! No, I was not in Iran during this time. Some old Nashrieh and booklets of that time are my sources.

During this press repression, I was student in France, but like most Iranians abroad, we could receive most inner news from that creeping complot of press repression.

Ben Madadi


by Ben Madadi on

Thank you very much for your constribution Jahanshah! Is this your own gathering and recollection and study, or do you have a source?
By thw way, is there anybody who has studied the impact of the Internet??? There is one more thing many people do not take into account. Not only in Iran, but across the whole world, most people usually DO NOT care about freedom of speech that much. It can easily be supressed. People usually get angry when there are more serious problems such as poverty or crime. However most regimes fall not because of mass revolt but because of implosions or weaknesses of the incumbants. This also happened to the Shah. If he had killed enough people his regime would have stayed in power ;)