Iran’s culture minister, Ali Jannati, has some good news: The country will be reviewing book censorship policies and maybe — just maybe — relaxing its book ban in the near future, Huffington Post said.
The encouraging announcement arrives amid what appear to be progressive reforms in Iran under new president Hassan Rouhani, evidenced with particular potency by Rouhani’s telephone conversation with the U.S. President Barack Obama, the first U.S.-Iran phone chat since the 1979 revolution.
Under Iran’s hard-line former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, countless classics were banned, much to the dismay of Iranian publishers who were required to submit prospective books to the culture ministry for review. As reported by The Guardian, “words such as ‘kiss’, ‘beloved’, ‘wine’, ‘drunk’, ‘pork’, ‘dance’, ‘rape’, ‘dog’ and ‘meditation'” were prohibited and would lead to censorship, by either text manipulations or total censorship.
Jannati, however, has recognized the absurdity of such restrictions. Quoted by Iranian reformist newspaper Arman, the culture minister said:
“I sadly learned that some books were denied permission to be published only on the grounds of personal opinions. I think if the Qu’ran was not a divine revelation, when it was handed to the book supervisory board, they would say some words did not comply with public chastity and would deny it permission for publication.”
Even if nuclear talks stall, Iran may regain respect in the literary world if Jannati’s promise to review censorship policies becomes reality.