Earlier this week, Iran’s federal prosecutors decreed that it was illegal for the media to publish photos or news about former president Mohamed Khatami. This quickly backfired: Iranians promptly launched an online campaign titled “We are Khatami’s media” on Facebook, garnering nearly 30,000 likes in 24 hours, and many of them published photos of him under multiple hashtags.
Khatami, a moderate reformist, served as Iran’s president from 1997 to 2005, when he was succeeded by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. During his two terms in office, Khatami was criticised by hardliners for his overtures toward the West and for pushing for more social freedoms in Iran. In 2009, following the “Green movement” protests, he and three other leading reformists were arrested for “sedition”: Medhi Karoubi and Mir Hossein Moussavi (both presidential candidates), and Zahra Rahnavard (an activist and Mousavi’s wife). These three are still under house arrest today; Khatami, however, is simply prohibited from leaving the country.
Following the Green movement of 2009, Iran’s journalists received a secret order prohibiting them from publishing anything about these “Green movement leaders” – and forbidding them from talking about the ban. Tuesday was the first time the Iranian authorities openly talked about banning the media from publishing news or photos about Khatami, a move that many Iranian commenters felt was made in preparation for upcoming parliamentary elections in December.
Initially published on France24 on 02/20/2015
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