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Cutting Out The Middleman In Iran

Browsing the offerings at the stand of Lebanon's Hizballah at Iran's international book fair in Tehran recently

The government in Iran is advising the country's writers and publishers to practice the art of self-censorship.

"You are aware of the vetting code, so censor pages which are likely to create a dispute," Mohammad Hossein Safar Harandi of the Ministry of Culture is quoted as saying by the French news agency AFP.

Harandi said publications should be in line with "religious, moral, and national" sensitivities and warned writers against graphic descriptions of relationships or sex.

In a letter to the ministry, the Tehran Publishers' Association complains that the guidelines are inconsistent, however, and says manuscripts voluntarily submitted for screening have been lost.

"It has been frequently seen that an issue which has resulted in a book being banned," the letter said, "is abundant in another one that is published."

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