Newspapers closed, journalists imprisoned: feels like a mop up operation

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Ever since President Khatami eased up media restrictions in 1997, the press has been a flashpoint between Reformers and Conservatives. Back in 1999 when the closure of the paper ‘Salam’ brought thousands of students onto the streets, it was even a battlefield. Ten years later, with eight papers being closed down since the disputed presidential election, and over sixty journalists in jail, more closures feel like a mop up operation. Last week it was the turn of the country’s most prominent Reformist newspaper, Etemaad which had a circulation of 100,000, along with two weekly magazines, Iran Dokht and Sina, the former edited by Hussein Karroubi, the son in law to the reformist presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi. There were no demonstrations. Students stayed in their classes. Similar to what has happened to Christians, some journalists spent a challenging time in prison and were then released on bail after the courts had secured a massive payment. Such intimidation usually encourages them to keep a low profile. This is what happened to five men arrested in the aftermath of the election and released this week. The bail for one of them was $800,000. According to one media watch-dog, only China now locks up more journalists than Iran. Perhaps Tehran is now looking to Beijing as a model to follow. For lovers of freedom of expression and religion this does not auger well. But Christians should also remember where the largest church on the planet is: China.

Pray for

  • All journalists suffering unfairly, to have an experience of God
  • Consciences of officials to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit
  • Christians to keep on sharing, whatever the external situation, remembering the Gospel is the ‘power of God’.