Iranian police crack down on bookshops

Published: Monday 30 November -0001

-- (Credit: Samrat Mukherjee)In what appears to be another blow to Iranian intellectual life, police in Tehran have shut down six bookshop-cafes, and others may be in line for closure. The head of the Tehran police information department, Mehdi Amahdi, justified the closures on October 27 by saying the booksellers' union does not allow two separate professions--selling books and selling refreshments--to be practiced together.

But the sudden strict enforcement of regulations seems to target the writers and intellectuals who gather at literary cafes. Hafez Mussavi, a writer and publisher in Tehran, believesthe crackdown is linked to a broader pattern in which Islamic authorities have stepped up efforts to suppress dissent across all segments of society. "I think this is part of moves that include, for example, the closure of newspapers. They are just waiting for an excuse to prevent cultural activities or limit them," Mussavi said.

The move comes amid a fresh crackdown this year on dissidents, including prominent intellectuals of Iran.

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