Iran: Kelid newspaper banned after publishing a cartoon depicting the Supreme Leader’s hand

On 8 November, the Press supervisory board of the Islamic Republic of Iran banned the publication and revoked the license of Kelid newspaper after it had published a cartoon in which the supreme leader was linked to poverty in the country. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) stands in solidarity with Kelid newspaper and calls on the authorities to reconsider their decision.

Credits: Kelid

On 6 November, Kelid, a newspaper created in 2015, published a front-page article titled “Millions of Iranians Living under Poverty Line", illustrated with a cartoon showing a hand with the distinctive ring of Khamenei.

The graphic was taken from Kayhan London newspaper, a London-based media. According to this newspaper, it published the cartoon in 2017 to criticise the inflation and poverty levels in Iran.

This is not the first time that press outlets are banned and warned for criticising the supreme leader Khamenei, who enjoys a political and religious status which makes him effectively untouchable in Iran.

In May 2000, following his order, tens of newspapers and periodicals were banned.

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: The decision to ban Khelid and revoke its licence is groundless and amounts to a straightforward attack on press freedom. We call on the Iranian authorities to allow Khelid to resume its activities immediately and respect the fundamental principle of press freedom.” 

Growing crackdown on media

Pressure and harassment on media and journalists have increased recently in Iran, with two reporters being subject to legal lawsuits. 

Atefeh Esmaeeli, a reporter working in Khuzestan province, revealed the high salaries of some authorities in the Ministry of Oil. His reporting prompted a reaction by the Ministry, which lodged a legal claim against him. The case was later dropped, reportedly on the orders of the minister. 

In a similar case, Ehsan Parsa, an environmental reporter, published a video in which the Director-General of Environment in Lorestan province was carried on the back of a worker. The video went viral and Parsa got arrested and taken to prison. The Director-General later claimed he had withdrawn his complaint.

In a separate move, Iranian lawmakers have announced plans to limit social media platforms and messaging apps, which are expected to be approved by the Iranian parliament soon.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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