HRW: Iran has no tolerance for dissent

Nov. 23, 2011 at 10:17 AM

NEW YORK, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Raids on the presidential press adviser and closure of reformist newspapers in Iran show the regime has no tolerance for dissent, Human Rights Watch said.

Members of the official Islamic Republic News Agency were arrested when authorities moved in to detain Ali Akbar Javanfekr this week. Radio Zamaneh, a Persian-language broadcaster with headquarters in the Netherlands and which publishes issues related to the Iranian opposition, reports Javanfekr was found guilty of "publishing material against Islamic principles."

The material in question was an article claiming the black chador, a conservative body-covering for women, isn't Islamic.

Editors at reformist newspaper Etamad, meanwhile, said its offices were closed recently in response to features about opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi. Both men ran against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009 election and were placed under house arrest in February.

"The simultaneous crackdown on President Ahmadinejad's media adviser, journalists working for a state-owned newspaper and a reformist daily shows the absurd level of intolerance authorities have toward freedom of the press in Iran," Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

Ahmadinejad has apparently fallen out of favor with the country's supreme leader, who, National Public Radio reported, issued a sermon in which he considered doing away with the office of the president in Iran.

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