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Saturday, 4 May, 2002, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
Iran suspends two reformist papers
A boy sells reformist newspapers in Tehran
A boy sells reformist newspapers in Tehran
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By Sadeq Saba
BBC regional analyst

The conservative-controlled judiciary in Iran has temporarily banned an important reformist newspaper, Iran, which is owned by the country's official news agency, IRNA.

The managing editor of the paper, Abdol-Rasoul Vesal, said the ban followed more than 90 complaints against it.

The judiciary also banned another newspaper, Bonyan.

It is believed that the main reason for suspending the newspaper Iran is the publication of an article last week, which suggested that Islam's Prophet Mohammad enjoyed listening to women sing and play music.

The article caused an uproar among Iran's conservative establishment.

Religious students staged demonstrations against the paper, saying that it insulted Prophet Mohammad.

Bad news for reformists

Women have been banned from singing before a male audience since the Iranian revolution two decades ago.

This is the first time that the conservative judiciary has closed a paper directly owned by the pro-reform government of President Mohammad Khatami.

Iran has a wide circulation and it has been regularly criticised by hardliners for supporting the reform movement in the country.

The closure of another influential liberal paper, Bonyan, is bad news for some optimistic reformers in Iran who recently announced that the country's conservative faction was adopting a more tolerant attitude towards its rivals.

See also:

29 Apr 02 | Middle East
Iran journalist jailed for 23 months
28 Apr 02 | Middle East
Signs of thaw in Iran's Cold War
15 Jan 02 | Middle East
Walkout victory for Iran reformists
10 Sep 01 | Middle East
Iran journalist loses prison appeal
18 Jun 00 | Middle East
Iran MPs demand press freedom
21 Feb 00 | Middle East
Analysis: Obstacles to change
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