Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

August 28, 2006

Iranian Cockroach Cartoon Editor Acquitted; Cartoonist Still Being Held

imageAccording to a story that hit the wires this morning, the newspaper editor Gholamhossein Islamifard has been acquitted of charges of "creatiing division among sects of society" and "insulting the Azeri-speaking people." Islamifard was the editor of the Tehran daily Iran that in a weekly supplement Iran Friday on May 12 published a cartoon by Mana Neyestani featuring a cockroach speaking in the language of the Azeri minority, a group that make up nearly 25 percent of the total population and live in great numbers in Iran's northwestern Azerbijan province. This resulted in days of protests in that region, including rioters setting fire to buildings and at least one report of four people dying. This led to the firings of the cartoonist and an editor, the state-run paper being shut down and the eventual arrest of Islamifard and Neyestani. Neyestani still awaits trial while being held in the notorious Evin prison, and the paper has been suspended since May 23.

There are a couple of things odd about today's developments. One is that name of the detained editor was previously given as Mehrdad Qasemfar. This could have been a misidentification of the paper's editor in chief as opposed to the editor actually jailed. The second is that the ban on the newspaper was supposedly lifted in June although some of what I'm reading today indicates a ban might still be in effect -- perhaps the newspaper was simply not re-established after the ban was lifted.'s Dirk Deppey caught this as well: last Friday the human rights organization Amnesty International recognized Ali Khodabakhshi, one of many Iranian-Azerbaijani figures detained after the unrest in late May and early June, as a person of concern in terms of his treatment while in custody.
posted 6:08 am PST | Permalink

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