Iranian paper hits newsstands after five month ban

The newspaper was closed in May for publishing a cartoon that sparked riots among Iran's ethnic Azeri minority.

October 29, 2006 10:21
1 minute read.

The state-run Iran daily newspaper, banned five months ago, hit newsstands again on Saturday with an exclusive story on Tehran's controversial nuclear program and headed by a new editor-in-chief close to the Iranian president. The newspaper was closed in May for publishing a cartoon that sparked riots among Iran's ethnic Azeri minority, and the cartoon's author and the editor were detained. A court acquitted the former editor -a liberal- last month, but the government appointed Kaveh Eshtehardi, a close ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to run the newspaper. The daily, one of the country's top three newspapers, began on Saturday with an exclusive report on Iran's second nuclear enrichment cascade of centrifuges. Iran's Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, in charge of media, wrote the editorial of the daily in which he said that "Iran daily resumes its work by apologizing for hurting Azeris and it will compensate its absence." May's crackdown against the newspaper was a sign of the hard-line government's concern over any internal divisions as the Islamic republic braced for more confrontation with the West over its contested nuclear program. When Azeris rioted against the cartoon, which compared them to cockroaches, Ahmadinejad accused the US of stirring up trouble among Iran's ethnic minorities. Iranian officials quickly apologized for the slur and stressed the nation's unity after hundreds of Azeris marched in the northwestern city of Tabriz. Azeris, a Turkic ethnic group, are Iran's largest minority, making up about a quarter of Iran's 70 million people, dominated by ethnic Persians. Iran is a patchwork of many ethnic groups, but its minorities have generally been quiet in past decades with little overt show of opposition to the government.

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