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September 30

* One-act play sparks cultural drama

TEHRAN, Sept. 29, (Washington Post) -It was a one-act satirical play that never made it to the stage, but it was printed in an obscure university publication and distributed in photocopies. But because of it, the writer is in custody, the culture minister is under fire, conservative newspapers are incensed and President Mohammed Khatemi's policy of freedom of expression is taking a beating ... FULL TEXT

September 29

* Khatami says rivals working against freedom

TEHRAN, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Iranian President Mohammad Khatami lashed out on Wednesday against Islamic extremists, accusing them of seeking to limit freedom and keep society in the dark. Khatami also condemned what he called efforts by ``foreign-inspired enemies'' to strip Iranian universities of their religious identity ... FULL TEXT

September 28

* Rally demands death for Iran's student playwrights

TEHRAN, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Angry demonstrators rallied in central Tehran on Tuesday to demand death for two student playwrights whose lampoon of campus conservatives has been condemned as an unforgivable insult to Islam and touched off a national crisis. Shopkeepers in the holy Shiite city of Qom, meanwhile, closed the central bazaar, a traditional form of protest with a long tradition in Iranian history, following a symbolic shutdown in Tehran on Monday ... FULL TEXT

September 27

* Fuss fest
Conservatives are up in arms over an "anti-Islamic" play

News report on alleged insults to Imam Mahdi in a play published in a student magazine. Plus responses in Persian from: * Khatami * Mohajerani * Nateq Nuri * Majlis members * Ayatollahs * Jannati * Safaie-far

* Student play sets off crisis

TEHRAN, Sept 27 (Reuters) - A satirical play in a little-known campus journal has sent shock waves through Iran, threatening President Mohammad Khatami's reform drive and exposing deep rifts in the ranks of ruling clerics. The sketch, which invoked one of the holiest figures in Shi'ite Islam to lampoon campus conservatives, has been universally condemned by clerics, ministers, MPs and judges as an unforgivable insult to Islamic sanctities ... FULL TEXT

* Khatami sees 'calculated' plot in new crisis

TEHRAN, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Iranian President Mohammad Khatami deplored a satirical student play for insulting Islamic sanctities, but warned the incident was being exploited as part of a ``calculated design'' to incite the nation. In remarks to his cabinet late on Sunday, the president condemned the play, which first appeared last month in a campus journal with a circulation of less than 200, as an insult to pious believers ... FULL TEXT

September 26

* Liberal Iran publisher says court verdict biased

TEHRAN, Sept 26 (Reuters) - The publisher of a pro-reform Iranian newspaper, sentenced to jail on a blasphemy conviction, sharply attacked the verdict on Sunday as politically motivated and demanded a new, impartial hearing. (Related photo) ``The court was biased and influenced by a certain political faction. Their approach was more political than legal, and marked by double standards,'' Latif Safari, the director of the banned Neshat daily, told a news conference ... FULL TEXT

* Newspapers help reformers

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - The newspapers hawked each morning at every street corner are the most immediate challenge to Iran's hard-liners, boldly redefining the limits of free speech and public debate. Since moderate President Mohammad Khatami took office in August 1997, the first cautious pro-reform writings have matured into a barrage of critique and comment. Once-unimaginable subjects, such as alleged corruption and questions about Islam's role in politics, are picked apart by a swelling number of newspapers ... FULL TEXT

September 22

* Conservatives tighten proposed press law

TEHRAN (Reuters) - A conservative parliamentary committee has proposed new restrictions on Iran's press, a main battleground between reformers around President Mohammad Khatami and hard-line rivals, newspapers reported Wednesday ... FULL TEXT

* Britain to continue Rushdie protection despite renewed Iran ties

LONDON, Sept 22 (AFP) - Britain said Wednesday it would continue its protection of author Salman Rushdie -- condemnmed to death a decade ago in a fatwa from Iran's then spiritual leader -- despite improved diplomatic links with Tehran ... FULL TEXT

September 20

* Reformist Iranian daily answers anti-Islam charges

TEHRAN, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Iran's leading pro-reform newspaper, already under suspension, went on trial on Monday on charges of insulting Islamic values and spreading propaganda against the state ``Jail me for five years, but abide by the law,'' publisher Latif Safari told the court ... FULL TEXT

September 13

* Iran's reformers decry secret death sentences

TEHRAN, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Pro-reform newspapers in Iran voiced dismay on Monday that a Revolutionary Court had met in secret to sentence four people to death for their role in July's pro-democracy unrest. Several dailies accused the conservative court of mishandling the case for political ends ... FULL TEXT

* Head of banned Iranian paper to stand trial next week

TEHRAN, Sept 13 (AFP) - The trial of the director of Iran's Neshat newspaper, banned for publishing "anti-Islamic" articles, will begin in the press court next week, justice officials said Monday. Latif Safari will appear next Monday to answer 73 charges in a public trial in the presence of a jury, Iran's justice department said in a statement carried by the official IRNA news agency ... FULL TEXT

September 9

* Neshat: The beat goes on

The moderate Neshat newspaper is back on Iran's newsstands, but under a new name after it was banned just a few days ago. It is now called Akhbar Eghtesad (Economic News), with an emphasis on economic news. But it still carries a good amount of political commentary, as well as the stinging satire of Ebrahim Nabavi. Here are two columns from the first issue explaining the paper's goals (in Persian):

-- Reza Jalaie-Pour ... Civil society & the economy
-- Ahmad Safaie-Far ... Words on our first day

September 9

* Reformist Iranian editors produce new daily

TEHRAN, Sept 9 (Reuters) - A team of maverick reformist editors on Thursday brought out a new pro-reform newspaper, their fifth in less than two years, after hardliners closed their latest popular daily ... FULL TEXT

September 9

* Neshat director summoned

TEHRAN, Sept 9 (AFP) - Iran's conservative-controlled press court has summoned the director of a pro-reform daily, banned this week on charges of publishing "anti-Islamic" articles, press reports said Thursday ... FULL TEXT

September 6

* Neshat banned, editors vows new daily

TEHRAN, Sept 6 (AFP) - The editors of a pro-reform Iranian daily closed by the conservative courts denounced the ban Monday as a political ploy to silence Iran's reform movement and vowed to start another paper immediately. Editors from Neshat said Sunday's "illegal" closure, the fourth time a leading pro-reform paper has been shut down this year, was purposely engineered by conservatives ahead of February's key parliamentary elections ... FULL TEXT

September 5

* Pressures of the press

The New York Times
Sunday September 5, 199

As editor of China's leading English-language newspaper, Jonathan Fenby developed a reputation for independent reporting and frank debate. Last month he was fired. Hamid Reza Jalaipur founded Iran's first prodemocracy newspaper. He was jailed last year for printing an editorial critical of the Government. Herewith, the two discuss what it's like to put out a newspaper where the press is not free ... FULL TEXT

September 4

* Iranian editor vows to re-open women's paper

September 4, 1999 (The Canberra Times) - The editor of a banned Iranian women's daily has told The Canberra Times she hopes to re-open her paper. Faezeh Hashemi, licensee and editor-in chief of Zan (woman" in Farsi), the first women's daily newspaper in her country, was in Canberra yesterday to visit the Australian Institute of Sport and the Australian Sports Commission. She also took a look at how an Australian daily newspaper operates ... FULL TEXT

September 2

* Judiciary issues warning against moderate press

TEHRAN, Sep 2 (AFP) - Iran's conservative-dominated judiciary on Thursday issued a warning against any attempts by the moderate press to breach the pillars of the Islamic revolution. In a statement broadcast on radio, the judiciary vigorously backed Wednesday's remarks by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who said "apostate" journalists opposing the country's eye-for-an-eye laws were liable to the death penalty ... FULL TEXT

September 2

* Offending articles

The following are op-ed pieces (in Persian) against the death penalty were published by Neshat newspaper. In an indirect reference, Ayatollah Khamenei said those who question Islamic laws are punishable by death:

* Hossein Baqerzadeh: "Is state violence permissable?" (Persian)
* Emadedin Baqi: "Execution and Islamic retribution (qesas)" (Persian)
* Neshat's explanation for publishing the opinion pieces (Persian)
* Khamenei's warning (English)


* BBC Persian service feature on the contrversy, including:
- Sadeq Saba's analysis
- Interview with human rights activist Hossein Baqerzadeh

    News from previous months:

* News archive

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