Shargh Newspaper

The Iranian daily Shargh was shut down by the Islamic Republic authorities after a cartoon published by the independent newspaper was branded as insulting to the memory of Iran’s war veterans.

Iranian media report that one day after the scandal over the cartoon, the newspaper was shut down on Wednesday night by the order of the Press Supervisory Board.

Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabayi, the attorney for the Shargh newspaper, reported that the authorities have also issued a warrant for the arrest of Mehdi Rahmanian, the director of publication, for whom he is trying to secure a release on bail.

The controversy has risen over a cartoon titled “blindfold” that was published in a special issue commemorating the Iran-Iraq War. The cartoon shows people standing in line, with each putting a blindfold on the person in front.

The Minister of Guidance announced that the cartoon was an insult to “the soldiers of the sacred defence”, which is how the establishment refers to the eight-year Iran-Iraq War.

Parliament also condemned the cartoon in a statement, which has so far been signed by 120 MPs.

Shargh director Mehdi Rahmanian has rejected the criticism, saying he himself is a war veteran and such accusations could never be made against his newspaper.

He also stressed that the cartoonist was a supporter of the regime and the Islamic Revolution, that his father was also a war veteran, and the interpretations attributed to his work were unfounded.

The members of Parliament have said that the blindfold resembles the headband Iranian war veterans wore on their foreheads, but the cartoonist has denied any such intention.

The Shargh daily, which is considered a reformist newspaper, previously had been shut down three other times for crossing the Press Supervisory Board’s red lines.