Thursday, September 18, 2014


Persian Letters

Books About Zen, Baha’i Faiths Banned At Tehran Book Fair

The Tehran International Book Fair: a large but limited selection.
The Tehran International Book Fair: a large but limited selection.
We reported over the weekend about the banning of some books by Iranian authors at Tehran's Book Fair.

The popular Tabnak website has posted some of the titles of the Western books that have been banned.

One title is "Why Politics Can't Be Freed From Religion," a book that Tabnak describes as an analysis of last year's presidential election in Iran with an "emphasis on the ineffectiveness of religious democracy in Iran."

Other banned titles include "Power, Islam and the Political Elite in Iran," which Tabnak says makes unfair judgments about Iran, and a book titled "Zen, Mind, Beginner's Mind."

The conservative website says all books acknowledging the Holocaust, books about "meditation" and "Zen therapy," and books about the Baha'i faith, which is not recognized in the Iranian constitution, have been banned from the book fair.

Books that describe Iran as a supporter of terrorism and Hamas as a terrorist group were also banned from the fair. Tabnak notes that there was no shortage of those books.

Book censorship has reportedly increased in Iran since hard-line President Mahmud Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005.

Prominent exiled journalist Faraj Sarkouhi wrote in 2007 that under Ahmadinejad, there has been an increase in the intensity and recklessness of censorship.

"The Culture Ministry's 'special examiners' have made decisions on the legitimacy of books based on the country's current political atmosphere and their own political, ideological, or personal interests. But their decisions have no basis in the law," Sarkouhi wrote.

Banned books in the Islamic Republic include Persian classical literature and also some of the best-known world literature.

Banned books often become bestsellers on the black market.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

Tags: censorship,Baha'i,holocaust,religion,Iran

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About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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Seen anything in the Iranian blogosphere that you think Persian Letters should cover? If so, contact Golnaz Esfandiari at esfandiarig@rferl.org