The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Iran cartoonists on tightrope during election campaign
Iranian cartoonist Hadi Heidari, who directs art work on oft-banned reformist Shargh daily poses outside the newspapers' office in Tehran on June 2, 2013. Press cartoonists say they are dodging "moving red lines" in the run-up to a June 14 presidential election in Iran, a country where a satirical image can get a newspaper banned or an editor jailed. AFP PHOTO/BEHROUZ MEHRI.

TEHRAN (AFP).- Press cartoonists say they are dodging "moving red lines" in the run-up to a June 14 presidential election in Iran, a country where a satirical image can get a newspaper banned or an editor jailed.

There have always been no-go areas, such as caricaturing the Islamic Republic's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or the military, but there has still been a certain freedom of tone during the campaign.

Two leading cartoonists, working at reformist newspapers, told AFP their job remains fraught with difficulty rawing as the restrictions have not been clearly defined.

Several others from across the political spectrum declined to be interviewed by AFP about their election coverage.

Jamal Rahmati, 40, artistic director of reformist newspaper Etemad, told AFP that, "in general, before the elections we get relative freedom, to a surprising degree. We can touch on every topic except clerics.

"Nowadays, there may be a problem with any topic because the boundaries are not clearly defined," he added.

The bodies supervising the media "require us not to put a dark interpretation on the situation in the country, but what is a dark interpretation?"

Some things are obvious, and the culture ministry, which supervises the media, warned the press in July against publishing certain reports about the impact of Western sanctions that plunged Iran into a deep crisis.

The European Union and the United States have both imposed unilateral sanctions against Iran's oil and banking sectors to punish its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment and the resulting loss of hard currency receipts has sent the value of the rial into a nosedive and the inflation rate soaring.

Another sensitive issue is Iran's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his efforts to crush a 26-month-old uprising.

And, of course, there is the election itself, in which all eight candidates received the approval of a conservative-led regime vetting body to stand.

After Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected to his second term in 2009, it was widely believed that his victory was due to electoral fraud. That sparked a public outcry and massive street demonstrations that the regime crushed with deadly force.

Hadi Heidari, 33, who directs art work at the oft-banned reformist daily Shargh, echoed his colleague.

"Officially, we must work within the framework of the rights outlined in the constitution, with the exception of the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the armed forces," said Heidari.

"But there is an unwritten law which I interpret as moving red lines. For instance if an issue is in the spotlight, this law says 'do not touch.'"

As an example, Rahmati cites the seemingly innocuous matter of a hike in poultry prices, saying he would have never thought that drawing a chicken would be a red line.

For reformist newspapers, Ahmadinejad, who is barred by the constitution from running for a third consecutive term, has also become a red line.

Heidari said that while he was able to caricature Ahmadinejad in 2009, he can't now.

This year the "atmosphere is closed and we are walking through a minefield."

In late April, Ayatollah Khamenei outlined his vision of how the media ought to conduct itself during the election campaign.

The media should "encourage people to choose correctly, criticise in a logical manner and not publish just anything," he said.

To protect themselves from the wrath of the censor or prosecutor, the newspapers have hired "advisers," who effectively help them to carry out self-censorship.

Heidari acknowledges that he often decides against submitting certain drawings.

"Self-censorship is a disease, but we have to live with it," he lamented.

One of his drawings, entitled "Blindfolded," was considered an insult to the veterans of the Iran-Iraq war and led to the closure of the newspaper last September.

"In Iran, due to the current economic and political situation, the cartoonist must rely on symbolism instead of realism. So the drawing becomes more influential because it paves ways to multiple interpretations," Heidari explained.

-- Presidential hopefuls differ on press freedom --

During a debate among the presidential candidates on Wednesday, which focused on cultural matters, the matter of dealing with the press was raised, and distinct views emerged.

Mohammad Reza Aref, the sole reformist candidate, and moderate cleric Hassan Rowhani, criticised the broad restrictions imposed on the press in the Islamic republic, and called for more freedom.

"They ban newspapers, prevent books from being published or ban a film. These are things that must be corrected," Aref said.

And Rowhani said that, "if we want to fight against corruption, there must be freedom of the press and media. People should have their hands freed."

But frontrunner Saeed Jalili, a conservative candidate who represents Iran in its nuclear negotiations with world powers, dismissed the charge of a lack of press freedom.

"Just because two newspapers belonging to a political movement are shut down, we cannot say that there is no freedom," said Jalili, alluding to the closure of reformist papers in recent years.

For Iran's political cartoonists, none of this is a laughing matter.

The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists said earlier this year that Iran was the fourth most-censored country in the world and that, at the beginning of December, 45 journalists were behind bars.

© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse

Today's News

June 10, 2013

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County unveils $135 million transformation

First major exhibition of Marc Chagall's work in the UK for over fifteen years opens at Tate Liverpool

World’s largest open submission contemporary art show opens at the Royal Academy of Arts

Archaeologists identify remains of British ship HMS Forth which sank in the sea of Yucatan in 1849

Masterpieces by Winslow Homer on view at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute this summer

Chinese Academy of Sciences: Oldest-ever primate sheds light on our ancestral past

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, presents "James Turrell: The Light Inside"

Amsterdam's famed Rijksmuseum buys historic Japanese chest for 7.3 mln euros at French sale

Kunsthaus Zürich presents first Swiss showing of the Hubert Looser Collection

Sotheby's Hong Kong presents two contemporary ink art exhibitions on view 7 to 28 June

From Corot to Munnings: Summer exhibition at Trinity House Paintings, London opens

Comprehensive solo exhibition by the American artist Cameron Jamie opens at Kunsthalle Zurich

Chinese jade brush dish set to make £150,000 at Lyon & Turnbull auction on 12 June

"George Inness: Gifts from Frank and Katherine Martucci" opens at the Clark Art Institute

The Algorithm of Manfred Mohr. 1963-now: An Exhibition at the ZKM Media Museum

New curatorial talent jumps in the pool with leading private collectors

Duck tops the bill in farewell Hong Kong appearance

Continuous Wave: An exhibition of new paintings by Ian Kimmerly opens at Dolby Chadwick Gallery

Iran cartoonists on tightrope during election campaign

Wiels Contemporary Art Centre in Brussels exhibition looks at film as sculpture

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Porsche Super Speedster offered for first time in 50 years at RM Sotheby's Porsche 70th Anniversary Auction

2.- Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens opens 'Storytelling: French Art from the Horvitz Collection'

3.- Gauguin: Voyage to Tahiti stars Vincent Cassel as the famed French artist

4.- Stunning colored diamonds expected to dazzle at Heritage Auctions' Summer Fine Jewelry Auction

5.- US designer Kate Spade found dead at 55

6.- Vincent Van Gogh painting sells for over 7 million euros: Artcurial auction house

7.- Sir Stanley Spencer painting discovered hidden under a bed during a drugs raid

8.- Oxford's Bodleian Libraries unveil UK's first major Tolkien exhibition in decades

9.- Major exhibition at the Guggenheim explores decades of work by Alberto Giacometti

10.- World's largest freshwater pearl goes for 320,000 euros

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful