Iran denies banning of Paulo Coelho’s books

Read the statement of the Embassy of Iran in Brasilia here.

To know about what started this visit here and here.

Also read more about the case in Times.

Here is my statement in response:

I read the statement of the Embassy of Iran in Brasilia with astonishment. I felt pity for a government whose only resort against the public opinion towards its atrocities against its own people is lying and distorting the truth. When accused of banning Paulo Coelho’s books in Iran, they not only deny the facts, but also they lie to accuse a witness to an unspeakable crime. Anyone who shows the slightest amount of criticism towards the government of Mr. Ahmadinejad, is accused of working for the US and Israel, even the founders of the Islamic Republic have received such accusations.

I have already explained the circumstances of Neda’s death, several times.  In response to these accusations with regards to Neda, I refer you to my statement a few days after the murder.

The people and the public opinion already knows who committed this crime.

With regards to censorship, I would like to ask the government of Iran the following questions:

–          Is prepublication censorship (or scrutiny, as you call it) being widely practiced by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, against Iran’s international obligations to enforce freedom of expression?

–          Have the books The Zahir, By the River Piedra I sat Down and Wept, The Witch of Portobello, Brida, 11 minutes and thousands of other books by international and Iranian authors, including several Nobel Laureates been banned by the Ministry between 2005 and 2010?

–          Have hundreds of magazines and newspapers been shut down without any explanation between 2005 and 2010, especially in the past two years?

–          Did several people die under torture in the Kahrizak detention centre in the summer 2009?

–          Are there several authors, economists, lawyers, journalists, university professors being detained in the Iranian prisons just because of what they said? Doesn’t this amount to censorship?

–          Have you banned and canceled the permission to publish any of Paulo Coelho’s books?

I was informed by someone ‘within’ the Ministry of Culture about the ban on Paulo’s books, and I conveyed the information to Paulo. If the books are not banned, great! If the pressures have made the Ministry to step back and authorize the books, great! If they are lying, shame on them.

Arash Hejazi