Monday, 14 December 2009

AFP: Iran bans best-selling paper over Bahai temple

TEHRAN — Iran on Monday shut down a best-selling newspaper, Hamshahri, for carrying a picture of a temple belonging to the outlawed Bahai sect, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The press watchdog "banned Hamshahri over carrying a picture of the Bahais' temple and encouraging tourists to visit this place on its front page" on Sunday, IRNA said, without giving a timeframe for the ban.

Hamshahri, which attracts the highest number of advertisements among Iran's newspapers, has been published by the Tehran municipality for nearly two decades.

Tehran's high profile conservative mayor, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, is a fierce critic and rival of Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Bahais have a sprawling temple in Haifa, Israel, which is the Islamic republic's arch-foe.

Followers of the Bahai faith, founded in Iran in 1863, are regarded as infidels and have suffered persecution both before and after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The Bahais consider Bahaullah, born in 1817, to be the last prophet sent by God.

This is in direct conflict with Islam, the religion of the vast majority of Iranians, which considers Mohammed to be the last prophet.

Ahmadinejad's government has shut down scores of publications -- mainly from the reformist camp critical of his administration -- since coming to power in 2005. Conservative media and entertainment periodicals have also been hit.

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