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Majalla: Iran's Fourth Estate

Author: Arash Karami
March 14, 2014


"The state of the Iranian media can serve as a bellwether for understanding where the country is headed. In the past, the restrictions under which Iranian journalists had to operate fluctuated as the political fortunes of conservatives and reformists shifted."

When reformist president Mohammad Khatami entered office in 1997 with a promise of "dialogue of civilizations," journalists inside the country took advantage of the less restrictive environment to address new and controversial topics. But a few short years later, when a conservative backlash occurred, reformist newspapers were closed down and Khatami's ministers were pressured into resigning. Western leaders soon realized that the "dialogue of civilizations" would remain only a slogan.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's administration was in the opposite camp in 2005 in that it worked in tandem with the security forces to close newspapers and arrest political activists. But in his second term, when Ahmadinejad clashed with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, one of the first victims of the government crackdown was his media adviser, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, who was arrested and jailed after making critical remarks about the Islamic Republic's dress codes for women. His fall from power was so steep that Ahmadinejad was refused permission to visit him in prison.

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