Iranian authorities this weekend shut down Mardom-e Emrouz after the fledgling newspaper published an “I Am Charlie” cover headline with a photo of George Clooney sporting a Je Suis Charlie button at the Golden Globe awards. The paper’s director, Ahmad Sattari, was quoted over the weekend by the Irna News Agency, saying, “The court in charge of cultural affairs and the media imposed the ban on the newspaper for publishing a headline and a picture which it deemed insulting.”
Clooney and others wore the button during the Golden Globes on January 11. Closing his Cecil B De Mille Award acceptance speech that evening, the star said, “Je suis Charlie.” The slogan has become a global rallying cry and demonstration of solidarity following the deadly attacks on Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris on January 7. BBC Middle East analyst Alan Johnston said that conservative elements in Teheran were incensed by the catchphrase, which they regard as “anti-Islamic.” The Mardom-e Emrouz article accompanying the photo of Clooney reportedly did not express support for his statement, nor for Charlie Hebdo itself.
Last week, Iranian officials said a cartoon portraying Muhammad on the cover of Charlie Hebdo’s January 14 issue, its first since the terrorist murders, was offensive. It featured a sketch of the Prophet under the banner “All Is Forgiven” and holding a Je Suis Charlie sign. Millions of copies immediately sold out.
Iran has also denounced the attacks, declaring that it condems terrorism anywhere in the world because such acts violate Islamic teaching, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham told reporters last Wednesday. “On the other hand, we disapprove of provocative moves and this weekly’s undertaking is insulting and will provoke the feelings of Muslims,” she added, according to Bloomberg News.
Ebrahim Khalili, a senior editor with BBC Persian, said Mardom-e Emrouz was only in its first month of publication. It has been seen as having a political stance close to that of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani. Khalili told BBC News that the court’s ruling is pending a final decision, but is unlikely to be overturned.