Iran’s supreme leader attacks ‘harmful’ books
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks out against books with ‘political hidden motives’, prompting criticism from former culture minister.
By Saeed Kamali Dehghan
Iran’s former culture minister, Ataollah Mohajerani, has criticised the country’s supreme leader for restricting access to literature after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei publicly attacked “harmful books” and likened them to “poisonous” drugs.
In a meeting with librarians and officials from Iran’s book industry on Wednesday, Khamenei spoke out against books “with a cultural appe arance but with specific political hidden motives.
“Not all books are necessarily good and not all of them are unharmful, some books are harmful,” he said, according to his official website, Khamenei.ir.
Mohajerani who was culture minister until 2000 under the reformist president Mohammad Khatami, said the ayatollah was worried about “literary, philosophical and social” books that might raise questions about his legitimacy as the supreme leader. “I think that he is very much concerned about books that can either implicitly or explicitly target his position as the supreme leader and also his legitimacy.”
He had fallen foul of the ayatollah when he was at the ministry as he favoured greater cultural openness and removed thousands of titles from the lists of banned books. Some analysts believe his lack of deference to the hardline ayatollah was another reason he came under attack from conservative clerics which finally forced him to resign. Numerous publications were closed down after he went. He currently lives in exile in London.