One thing that surprised me with Iran was that it was not particularly hard to get over foreign magazines. Just visit a specialized newsagent, and the stacks were pretty much the same as anywhere; Times, Newsweek and the ubiquitous The Economist.

censored magazine coverYou have to remember that I brought very little ? if any ? literature with me, in order to travel light, so the first time I saw English-language magazines I bought pretty much everything I could get my hands on. (Hotel rooms are boring at night, you know.) All was fine, until I came back and started reading them.

They were all censored. And not in any subtle way ? but with black felt-tip pens and white stickers! The interesting thing is that an article can be very critical towards Iranian policies in writing, but pictures are apperently much more sensitive. An issue of the The Economist, for example, featured an extremely opinionated leader on Iran?s nuclear policies. It was not touched. The caricature cartoon of Khamenei, however, was a big black hole.

As was all images of women with a little less clothes than prescribed.

This sparked my interest, and the next day I went on a quest to find more magazines. I bought a whole bunch, from newspapers and viewspapers to Wallpaper and National Geographic.

The latter also had the most prominent censorship of them all ? as shown in the image in this post (the untouched cover in the lower right corner).

I will make a more methodical study of the 30-or-so magazines I brought back to Sweden, and return with more scientific results on the censorship.