Iran to Shut Down Reformist Newspaper Over Article Deemed Offensive to Islam

Media reports say the 'Sedayeh Eslahat' newspaper was ordered shut down by the country's general prosecutor for publishing an article on female-to-male gender reassignment surgery

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past an anti-U.S. mural in Tehran, Iran October 13, 2017.
\ Reuters Photographer/ REUTERS

Iranian media outlets are reporting that the country's General Prosecutor has ordered the closure of a reformist newspaper on charges of insulting the Shi'ite religion.

The Friday reports say that the "Sedayeh Eslahat" newspaper was ordered shut down for publishing an article on female-to-male gender reassignment surgery.

The prosecutor, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, ordered the editor be punished, too, the reports said.

On Thursday, a headline on the newspaper's front page read: "Ruqayyah became Mahdi after 22 years."

Ruqayyah was the name of the daughter of Hussein, a Shi'ite Imam, and the article was published during Muharram, a holiday in which Shi'ite Muslims mourn the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad.

In Islam, Mahdi is a messiah-like figure mentioned in the hadith, said to arrive before the day of judgement with Jesus to defeat the Antichrist. He does not appear in the Koran.

The concept of Mahdi is not an essential component of Sunni Islam, but is considered popular among both Shia and Sunni Muslims.

Iran is placed 164 of 180 on the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index.