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Last Updated: Friday, 13 May, 2005, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
Iran 'bans author Coelho's novel'
Paulo Coelho
Coelho said he had a government permit to publish the book
The latest novel by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho has been banned in Iran, its publisher in the country has said.

Iranian authorities confiscated 1,000 copies of The Zahir at the Tehran Book Fair on Monday but did not give a reason, according to publisher Caravan.

The Zahir, published in Iran last month, tells the story of an author who tries to track down his missing war correspondent wife.

Coelho has sold an estimated 65 million books around the world.

His previous novels include The Alchemist and Eleven Minutes, and The Zahir will be published in 83 countries.

Caravan's Arash Hejazi said he was now worried about his safety.

I am concerned about my family
Arash Hejazi
Mr Hejazi said Iranian intelligence agents went to the book fair and took his remaining 1,000 copies.

They told him The Zahir was now banned and he must report to authorities in the next few days.

"I am concerned about my family. The presidential election is near. They are doing everything to keep things under control," he said.

The country's culture ministry had "become extremely afraid of the increased popularity of Paulo Coelho", he added.

Coelho said they had gone through the "normal procedures" of getting a government permit to publish the book.

The Zahir will be published in the UK in June and in the US in September.

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