Internet filtering now affects all main cities

BAGHDAD — Iranian authorities have blocked access to the Farsi websites of international media Radio France Internationale (RFI) and Deutsche Welle (DW) in its latest efforts to control the media, state daily Etemad Melli reported.

The Farsi service of the BBC, Voice of America (VOA) and U.S.-funded Radio Farda have already been blocked.

Paris-based media rights group Reporters Without Borders condemned the latest censorship move, saying, “Most of the sites contain articles critical of the government and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

“Internet filtering is not new in Iran, but we are worried about the scale it has assumed and the fact that it is affecting all the main cities. We call for an end to the sanctions against these websites, which are sources of news and information,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.

The group also condemned a decision by Iran’s ministry of culture and Islamic guidance this week to suspend Hemat, a weekly that supports allies of President Ahmadinejad.    The ministry said a spoof movie poster on the front page of the Feb. 1 issue had insulted senior government officials.     “There would be something comic about this suspension if it did not constitute a heavy-handed warning to all Iranian media that do not limit themselves to reproducing propaganda,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It seems that news reports are not the only form of content to give rise to sanctions. Humour clearly does too.”

The spoof poster, for an imaginary movie called “Slaying of Ahmadinejad,” alluded to the presidential election scheduled for June.

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