Iran: Literature, censorship and signs of change

26 November 2013

“Iran’s literature is wounded, but it still has blood, and in its blood lies a secret” writes Shahriar Mandanipour, one of the most accomplished writers of contemporary Iranian literature, in a piece about Iranian literature and censorship.

The effects of censorship on contemporary Iranian literature are widespread: Because of censorship, which at times functions shrewdly and at times foolishly, Iranian writers are persistently at a loss about what is permitted and what is not.

The regime has to some extent succeeded in forcing writers to self-censor, especially those who have bravely stayed in Iran and are successful. The desire to evade censorship has to a certain extent fostered artificially complex and contorted writing.


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Iran: Administration has ‘loosened bans’ on authors

Iran Book News Agency quoted on 27 November 2013 president Hassan Rouhani as saying that his administration has loosened bans on many of the writers whose works were restricted under the former administrations in Iran, since he took office almost 100 days ago.

Addressing a program broadcast live from Channel 1 of Iran’s national TV, Rouhani said there have been periods in Iran when writers and artists happened to be frowned upon for their works; however, under his administration most of the previously-banned writers have been given leave to write whatever they think is in accordance with the law.

Delivering a report on the administration’s social, cultural, political and economic performance since getting the office some 100 days ago, Rouhani called on more attention and confidence on writers of the country.

“The administration believes that there is no better filtering method better than the public consensus,” added Rouhani underscoring that security sensitivity should be put aside from cultural and artistic affairs in the society.

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Iran: Culture Minister questions strict book censorship

Iranian Culture Minister Ali Jannati has stated that book censorship was too strict under the country’s former government.

In comments quoted by Iran’s semi-official ILNA news agency on 8 October 2013, Jannati said censors would have rejected the Koran, which Muslims believe is a revelation by God.

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Not for Prime Time: Music Video With Iran’s President

A music video surfaced on on 27 November 2013 honoring Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, and showing him alongside musical instruments — which are banned on state television — and women singing.

The video is called “Nosafar” (“New Traveler”) after a sentence by the legendary Persian poet Hafez that translates as “the road ahead is long and I am a new traveler.”

The video was released only on Iranian social media and YouTube, where it got around 400,000 views in 24 hours, said its director, Hossein Dehbashi.

There is a thriving music video clip industry in Iran, where pop singers tape songs the state television’s censors will never play. Instead the videos are broadcast in Iran by foreign Persian-language music channels.

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