January 21, 2016

Iran bans wine, foreign animals, and certain foreign presidents from culture


Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (image via Wikipedia commons)

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (image via Wikipedia commons)

Iran’s culture ministry has banned occurrences of wine, foreign animals, and certain foreign presidents in books published in the Islamic Republic, reports Ahmed Vahdat at the Telegraph.

The suggestion (read: ruling) came from above: Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, citing the insistent “cultural onslaught” by the West, believes that the Iranian people need protection from the “Western cultural invasion…that seeks to destroy Islamic identity.” Therefore, the culture industry should focus on producing “appealing” books, films, video games, and toys.

Poodles are adept swimmers.

Mohammad Selgi, who is in charge of book publishing through his post at the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance, explained to Vahdat what this means for the books published in Iran:

When new books are registered with us, our staff first have to read them page by page to make sure whether they require any editorial changes in line with promoting the principles of the Islamic revolution, effectively confronting the Western cultural onslaught and censoring any insult against the prophet.

Words like wine and the names of foreign animals and pets, as well as names of certain foreign presidents are also banned under the new restricting regulations.

In a conversation with Shiraze—an Iranian monthly (cited by The Independent’s Kate Ng)—Selgi noted that the ideological viewpoints of “clerics” must be “taken into account when we issue a permit for a book to be published.” Thus, moving forward, all books, not just new ones, must be in accordance with the new standards. Any books failing this evaluation will be pulled from the market.

In conclusion: When Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is not #isreading, he is #iscensoring.

Also, wine is great.



Chad Felix is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.