Iran bans news weekly for featuring Obama on front cover

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London, Nov 12 : A smiling photograph of the American President-elect Barack Obama on a Tehran news weekly front cover has resulted in ban of the weekly by Iranian authorities.

The news weekly featured Obama on its front cover last week and asked "Why doesn't Iran have an Obama?" has been closed down, The Times reported.

It appeared to be a taunt too far for Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and saw the magazine Shahrvand-e Emrouz (Today's Citizen) promptly banned by Iran's Press Supervisory Board.

The closure of the popular reformist weekly suggests that Ahmadinejad is determined to silence his critics as he prepares for elections next June that could hand him a second-four year term.

Numerous problems, all widely covered by the Iranian media, have bedeviled Ahmadinejad in recent weeks, the paper said.

His expansionary budget is blamed for rampant inflation, oil prices have plummeted, aides have admitted that he suffers from strain and exhaustion, and an embarrassing forgery scandal claimed the scalp of his interior minister last week.

As the populist Ahmadinejad realises, normalising ties with the "global arrogance" would be very popular with Iran's electorate, even though any rapprochement would be bitterly resisted by a minority of Tehran's radical hardliners.

Most Iranians were delighted by Obama's victory and Ahmadinejad lost little time in sending an unprecedented message of congratulations to the incoming leader of a superpower that severed ties with Iran 28 years ago.

"Given his (Ahmadinejad's) considerable mismanagement of the economy, it will be difficult for him to run on the platform of economic justice and populism that got him elected in 2005," Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert with the Carnegie Endowment for Peace in Washington, wrote in a recent paper offering advice to the next US President.

Iran's government clearly was rankled by Obama's keenly-anticipated first remarks on Tehran after his election triumph.


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