MAY 23, 2006
In another cartoon furor, the government of Iran has closed down the "Iran" newspaper and jailed its editor along with cartoonist, Mana Neyestani. The cartoon (see it here) is written in the Azeri language, the boy asks the cockroach a question and the cockroach replies "Namana" or "I don't get it."
The cartoon was "deemed an insult to Iran's Azeri minority," according to Teheran's chief prosecutor. The Azeri make up about a quarter of Iran's population; they live in Northern Iran and speak a language that is related to Turkish. The "Iran" newspaper is state run and is one of Iran's top three newspapers
Members of Iran's Azeri minority rioted in response to the cartoon, pelting government buildings and banks in Tabriz with stones. It is apparently a common practice in Iran to mock the Azeri in jokes and it seems that the Azeri have little sense of humor
Iran's conservative judiciary has closed more than 100 newspapers, but this is the first newspaper closed by Iran's "Press Supervisory Body" and is the first newspaper closed during the term of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad