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Iranian Newspaper To Resume Printing After One-Day Ban

The front page of an edition of "Hamshahri"
TEHRAN (Reuters) - A popular newspaper critical of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, banned for one day for publishing a photograph of a temple of the banned Baha'i faith, can publish again on November 25, media reported.

The paper, “Hamshahri,” did not appear on November 24, but the semiofficial student news agency ISNA, quoting justice ministry official Zahed Bashiri-Rad, said it would be allowed to publish the next day’s edition.

Earlier in the day, the daily “Etemad” quoted Deputy Culture Minister Mohammad Ali Ramin as saying “Hamshahri” and another daily, “Khabar,” which is linked to a conservative rival of Ahmadinejad, had violated media laws and had received warnings from the Islamic Republic's press supervisory board.

“Khabar” had stopped publication because of unspecified pressure, Etemad reported.

Government opponents may see such action by the authorities as an attempt to muzzle criticism of the hard-line president after his disputed re-election in June, which plunged Iran into months of political turmoil.

Earlier in November, the press supervisory body banned the publication of a leading business daily, “Sarmayeh,” which has been critical of the government's economic policies.

“Hamshahri,” which belongs to the Tehran municipality and is Iran's highest-circulation newspaper, was banned for a day after it carried a front-page advertisement for tourist travel to India showing a Baha'i temple, media said.

Iran's Shi'ite Muslim religious establishment considers Baha'i a heretical offshoot of Islam.

Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, a pragmatic conservative, is seen as a political rival of Ahmadinejad. Khabar is seen as close to parliament speaker Ali Larijani, another conservative rival of the president.

Exiled Baha'i leaders allege that hundreds of followers of their faith have been jailed and executed in Iran in the past three decades. The government denies it has detained or executed people because of their religion.

Baha'i followers revere the 19th-century founder, Baha'ullah, as the latest in a line of prophets who include Mohammad, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Krishna, and Jesus.

They espouse world peace, and their holiest places and world center are in what is now Israel, Iran's arch enemy.