Iran Bans Newspaper for Graphic of Khamenei Drawing Poverty Line

By Kayhan Life Staff

Iran’s Media Supervisory Board has banned daily newspaper Kelid after it published a front-page article titled “Millions of Iranians Live Under the Poverty Line” in its Nov. 6 issue, which included a graphic showing Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s hand, painted in red, drawing the poverty line.

Kayhan London owns the copyright to the graphic, published for the first time by the paper in March 2021. Since then, Kayhan London has used the image in several articles about the high cost of goods and inflation and about the poverty line in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Kelid used the graphic without Kayhan London’s consent or without acknowledging the paper as its source and copyright holder of the image. In the original version of the graphic, Kayhan London’s name appears in Farsi and English as the rightful owner of the graphic.

In an interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Alaeddin Zohourian, the Secretary of the Media Supervisory Board, announced the closure of the daily newspaper Kelid but gave no reason for the action.

The paper started publishing in 2013 under the name of Kelid-e-Siyasat, with Attaollah Hakimipour as its editor-in-chief. Since then, Kelid has had several editors-in-chief and has been shut down a few times.

Despite its small circulation, Kelid drew strong criticism from supporters of the Islamic Republic after it published the graphic showing Mr. Khamenei’s hand drawing the poverty line.

A supporter of the Islamic Republic, @kochar_1969, tweeted: “A blatant insult aimed at the esteemed leader. It seems everyone is free to insult the leadership and the Sepah [Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)]. Mr. Ejei [head of the Judiciary], either you deal with this or let us seal their mouths with mud.”

“The deceitful Kelid newspaper insulting the leadership is the Velayat’s and resistance’s red line,” another supporter of the Islamic Republic, Massoud @amirkabir1400, tweeted. “Wait for the revolutionary front’s reaction. The Judiciary does not appear to have the will to punish the shameless offenders.”

Article 27 of the Iranian Press Law states: “Whenever the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran or any recognized sources of emulation are insulted in a publication, its license will be revoked, and its managing editor and the writer of the article will be brought before the court and punished.”

According to the Tehran-based Mehr News Agency, the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad Mehdi Esmaili chaired the meeting that reviewed Kelid newspaper’s alleged offense against the leader.

A day before the closure of Kelid newspaper, Iman Shamsaei, the director of the Ministry of Culture’s office for Domestic Press and News Media, had told the Tehran-based Young Journalists Club (YJC) that the Media Supervisory Board would review the publication of the graphic by Kelid.

The Media Supervisory Board includes a judge, the minister of culture or his representative who has complete authority to vote on the matter, a Majlis (Iranian Parliament) deputy selected by the Majlis, a university professor chosen by the Minister of Culture, a managing editor of a newspaper appointed by other board members, a seminarian selected by the Qom Seminary Supreme Council and a member of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution.

Meanwhile, Islamists have said they will hold a rally to show their support for Khamenei and condemn the publication of the graphic in Kelid.

Some people outside Iran have reacted to the closure of Kelid.

The Farsi-language Twitter page of Israel Foreign Ministry @IsraelPersian said: “Zero tolerance for criticism-#Hollow-authority.”

The site retweeted a message by a social media user, Reza Haghighatnejad @rezahn56, which said: “The day before yesterday, Kelid newspaper highlighted Khamenei’s role in creating the current dire [economic] situation, and today, the paper was banned. This is the gentleman’s record.”

Link to the Farsi page

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