Ali Akbar Javanfekr, President Ahmadinejad’s press advisor, Managing Director of the Islamic Republic News Agency and director of the Iran Media-Cultural Institute has been jailed for 6 months on charges which include “insulting the leader”. Javanfekr’s sentence was issued in November 2011, as a result of an interview he conducted with the Reformist daily Etemaad in which he strongly criticized Ahmadinejad’s Principalist critics, as well as a supplement in Iran Newspaper deemed insulting to the black veil known as the “chador”. His sentence was subsequently upheld upon appeal. Javanfekr has also been banned from any media-related activities for a period of 3 years.
120 MPs have protested a caricature in the Reformist daily Sharq deeming it insulting to the “warriors of Islam”, in this instance, the men who fought in the Iran-Iraq war.
It has been speculated by Digarban, a website outside Iran which follows the Conservative media, that the caricature is being used as a pretext to close the newspaper. In the caricature Iranian soldiers are depicted as blindfolded and “blindly” following one another in succession to the war front. Irrespective of whether the caricature is being used cynically by Iranian MPs in order to close down Sharq, the so-called “sacred defence” as it is referred to in official literature remains an extremely sensitive subject in Iran and has been transformed into the IRGC’s chief source ideological legitimacy.