Journalism is not the safest of professions in Iran. According to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists, 30 – 50 are behind bars in Iran at any one time. This danger to journalists has even reached the offices of the state sponsored Iran Daily newspaper. For Ali Akbar Javanfekr, the paper’s editor, manager of the state’s ‘Islamic Republic News Agency’ and former press advisor to President Ahmadinejad, was arrested on Monday 21st November. He was released the same day, but the story is not over as a court has sentenced him to one year’s imprisonment.
Javanfekr’s crime was to write an article suggesting that the ‘Chador’, the traditional black cloak worn by many Iranian women, had its origin in France. He is probably wrong about this, but it seems bizarre this deserves imprisonment. And the arrest was not pretty. There are reports that thirty of his staff came into his office to try and stop the arrest, and the judiciary officials had to use tear gas to disperse them. This was a blunt assertion of power by the judiciary over the press.
Such control of the press is also harmful for the church. For the press supports the inaccuracy that there is freedom for Christians in Iran, and by accepting official statements at face value contributes to the campaign against the house churches: the harassment of Christians is never questioned.
• More press freedom
• Release of innocent journalists
• Correct reporting on church issues.