The internal political war in Iran has slowly been making its way to headlines in the West, and some top publications have been providing us with a running commentary on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s struggle against the more conservative elements in his country’s government.
Bloomberg noted earlier this week that “away from the glare of nuclear talks,” Rouhani has suffered a series of “domestic setbacks” that call into question the amount of influence he has within Iran.
And indeed, even as Iran and world powers continue to make inroads on the nuclear issue, agreeing in Vienna on a framework for talks, the internal war continued in Tehran. Recently, the battlefield was a newspaper aligned with Rouhani’s camp, which was forcibly closed just six days after its first issue reached newsstands.
The closing of the ‘Aseman,’ or ‘Sky,’ newspaper was first reported by the semi-official Fars news agency, which said it was shut down “for desecration of Islamic sanctities and publishing material that was against Islamic rulings.”
The New York Times was more specific, reporting that the newspaper had published a quote from a political activist saying “the bedrock eye-for-an-eye principle of Islamic law is inhumane.”
The Times further speculated that the move aims to prevent Rouhani and his government from “having any news media outlets other than the official government newspaper, Iran, and the Islamic Republic News Agency.”
This has been the fourth moderate paper to be targeted since Rouhani took office, The Times noted, as Culture Minister Ali Jannati continues to reiterate that the “entire” Iranian government strongly believes in freedom of expression and pledges to support “all writers and journalists.”
Apparently, in Iran, the sky is the limit – but it’s much closer than you’d think.