Iran Culture

Iran Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in Iran

According to AREACODESEXPLORER.COM, Iran is a country located in Asia. In Iran, 29 newspapers are published, most of them in Tehran. However, the overall newspaper edition is limited (28 newspaper excl. Per 1,000 residents, 2000). The largest daily newspapers are the Toraat (‘Information’, founded in 1925), with an edition of 500,000 copies, and Kayhan (‘Universum’, founded in 1941), with an edition of about 350,000 copies. The Islamic Republican Party had Jomhuri-ye Islami as its main body for the dissolution of the party in 1987. The constitution basically guarantees freedom of the press within the framework of Islam’s basic values. After 1985 there has been a liberalization in the view of the press, but in 1987 the two largest newspapers were placed under the supervision of religious authorities.

The national news agency IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency), like radio and TV, is state-controlled. Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) broadcasts radio in three national channels and television in five. Radio channel Radio Quran contains a reading of the Qur’an. In addition, there are regional radio and TV broadcasts in local languages. There are 281 radio and 163 TV receivers per 1,000 residents (2000).


According to ANIMALERTS, Iran has historically had a rich and prosperous cultural life. The oldest imaging art you have found is a whole 8,000 years old. There are small unburned clay figures representing animals and humans. Persian miniature painting from the 1300s has a high reputation. Hand knotted rugs have long been the country’s foremost cultural export and are still used today in cultural and religious contexts. Prior to the 1979 revolution, many Iranians listened to Western music, both classical and modern. Today, Western singing is in most cases prohibited.

The folk music in the country is varied and reflects the ethnic diversity. In religious ceremonies and as a singing companion, lute is often used. Other popular instruments are string instruments, clarinet, drums and cymbals. Minorities such as Kurds, lures, Turkmen and Azeras have preserved their musical traditions.

One of the country’s most impressive buildings is the Palace of Persepolis, which was built during the so-called Akemenid era (549–331 BC). Today, only the ruins are left, but you can still imagine how majestic Persepolis was. On UNESCO’s World Heritage List, you will find several of the pearls of Islamic architecture, the bazaar in Tabriz, a 2,500-year-old irrigation system in the city of Shushtar and Armenian monastery.

Persian literature is the result of ancient traditions. The roots of Iranian mythology, with kings and heroes, can be found in the sacred writings of the Zoroastrian religion, written in verse almost 1,000 years before Western times. From mythology, today’s historical epics have emerged. Firdawsi’s chronicle of the fate of Persia through the ages, Shahname from the year 1000, is still central to the national feeling. In the west, astronomer Omar al-Khayyam’s work Rubaiyat from the 12th century is probably best known.

The country’s most celebrated writer in modern times was the poet Ahmad Shamloo, who passed away in 2000. Several of his poetry collections, including All-Comprehensive Love and Poems at Night, are translated into Swedish. Another poetess was another poet, Forough Farrokhzad (1935-1967). She also made, in 1962, a well-publicized documentary, The House is Black, about a leper colony.

During the last Shah’s time, Western customs spread in the cities, but since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 they have been strongly opposed. Artists have had a hard time working. When Mohammad Khatami, president until 2005, was Minister of Culture from 1982 to 1993, he was criticized for being too liberal, and for not risking facing a distrust vote. Several of the films that Khatami encouraged have achieved success abroad. Director Abbas Kiarostami shared the Gold Palm in Cannes in 1997 for the movie Taste of Cherry. His film Ten, which came in 2002, also attracted international attention.

Under Ahmadinejad’s regime in 2005–2013, the cultural climate was characterized by strict Islamic conservatism. Officials at the Ministry of Culture who had “failed to protect Islamic values” in literature and film were forced to quit and books that could be sold under the Khatami regime were banned as well as foreign films. State radio and TV were ordered to stop playing western and “decadent” music.

Film directors Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof were sentenced in 2010 to six years in prison for “counteracting the Iranian system”. Panahi was prohibited from working with film and traveling abroad for 20 years. The judges were appealed and Rasoulof got his sentence cut short by a year, while the verdict against the more famous Panahi was upheld. Nevertheless, both have succeeded in defying the professional ban and making new films. Panahi has received international awards for the films The White Balloon, The Circle, Women offside and Taxi Tehran. At the Berlin Film Festival 2020, the first prize Guldbjörnen went to Rasoulof’s film There is no evil. The film criticizes the death penalty. The director was not allowed to leave Iran to receive the award.

In 2012, divorce drama Nader and Simin were awarded – a separation, directed by Asghar Farhadi, an Oscar for best non-English-language film. In 2017, Farhadi received her second Oscar for Forushande (distributed internationally as The Salesman).

In May 2012, cartoonist Mahmoud Shokraye was sentenced to 25 whips for a cartoon by a Conservative MP depicted as a footballer. The court considered that the drawing violated the politician, who was criticized for interfering in sports matters.

An example of how female artists are countered was given in May 2019, when singer Negar Moazzam performed solo to the audience.



Video leads to jail

November 27th

Ahmad Montazeri, son of one of the leaders of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, is sentenced to six years in prison for publishing a 1988 video recording in which his father, Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, is seen appealing to high-ranking judges not to execute mass executions of political opponents. Ayatolla Montazeri lost his position as Iran’s second highest leader when he opposed the decision of Ayatolla Khomeini to execute thousands of members of the resistance movement People’s Mujahedin. It is unclear how many were executed in 1988, but Amnesty International has estimated that there were about 5,000.

1,000 Iranian soldiers killed in Syria

November 22

More than 1,000 soldiers who have been part of Iran’s forces in Syria have been killed, says the head of the Iranian Martyrs Foundation, which provides financial support to the families of dead soldiers. As late as July, it was said that 400 Iranian soldiers had been killed. Many of the soldiers included in the Iranian Syrian forces are Shia Muslims from Afghanistan and Pakistan, among others. Half of those killed in August were Afghans.

Trump’s election victory in the US worries about Iran

November 9

Following Republican Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election, Secretary of State Zarif urges him to stick to the international agreement on the Iranian nuclear program. “Every American president must understand the reality of today’s world,” Zarif says. President Rohani keeps in mind that the agreement is not reached with a single country or government, but agreed in a resolution in the UN Security Council and that no single government can change that. In the election campaign, Trump has said, among other things, that he wants to tear down the Iran deal as one of his first measures, and reinstate sanctions on Iran.

New female vice president

November 5

President Rohani appoints Zahra Ahmadipour as Vice President and Head of the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Heritage. She is the third woman in the current government.

Spoiling penalty for former prosecutor

November 2

Tehran’s former chief prosecutor Said Mortazavi is sentenced to trespassing for wasteful use of public funds from the time he was head of the social authority. He’ll get 135 whips. Mortazavi, who is close to former President Ahmadinejad, became notorious for ordering the closure of dozens of reform advocates and for imprisoning journalists. He was suspended from the Prosecutor’s Office in 2010 after Parliament held him responsible for the deaths of at least three protesters during the protests against Ahmadinejad’s re-election in 2009.


Requirements for fewer executions

October 30th

Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi says the many executions do not have the deterrent function the legislators intended. He suggests reducing the number of executions and considering alternative penalties. The minister claims that the entire judiciary agrees with him. According to the UN, Iran carries out almost 1,000 executions a year. A bill on reduced use of the death penalty has been presented to Parliament but has not yet been debated.

Positive report from the IMF

October 3

The IMF says after a visit to Iran by a delegation that the Iranian economy is recovering quickly after the sanctions were lifted. Oil production and exports are almost back to the same levels as before the international sanctions were introduced, and other parts of the economy are doing well. The IMF praises the government’s “wise” economic policy that has kept inflation down, and growth is expected to be at least 4.5 percent throughout 2017.


Khamenei noble Ahmadinejad

September 26th

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has urged former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not to stand in the 2017 presidential election, reports Iranian media. Ayatolla Khamenei must have told the controversial president that it is not in his own or the country’s interest that he try to get re-elected, as it would create a dangerous crack within the country. The day after, Ahmadinejad says he should respect “the will of the great revolutionary leader” and not stand up.

UN: Iran follows nuclear agreement

September 8

UN agency IAEA says Iran is following the agreement it signed in 2015 with the six major powers to limit its nuclear material stockpiles. But the report also says that Iran has started manufacturing centrifuge rotor tubes, which can be used to enrich uranium. This is allowed, but according to the IAEA only in limited quantities. Calls are being made, the IAEA writes.

Word war with Saudi Arabia

September 7

The long conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia is taking a new turn in an escalated war of words for this year’s pilgrimage, hajj, which Iran boycotted after failing to comply with its demands for security arrangements. The war of words begins with Ayatollah Khamenei accusing the Iranian authorities of murder, after up to 2,300 pilgrims are believed to have died in panic in 2015. More than 400 of the victims were Iranians. To this, Saudi Grand Muhammad Abd al-Aziz al-Sheikh responds that “Iranians are not Muslims”. Khamenei comments that the “evil” Saudi royal family does not deserve to administer the sacred sites. Iranian President Rohani says the conflict is exacerbated by the Saudi government’s support for terrorism and committing crimes throughout the region by “spilling the blood of Muslims in Iraq,


Russian bombing on Iranian base

August 16th

For the first time, Russian flight bombs against Islamic State (IS) positions in Syria after lifting from an Iranian air base. A spokesman for the US-led alliance fighting IS says Russia warned of the raids and that the alliance made sure to leave the airspace open.

Nuclear physicists executed for espionage

August 7th

Nuclear physicist Shahram Amiri is executed after being convicted of espionage on behalf of the United States. He disappeared during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in 2008, at a time when the Iranian nuclear research program was the most contentious. He was later seen in the United States but returned to Iran in 2010, and was received as a hero after saying he had been kidnapped by the CIA and forced into the United States. He claimed he resisted the pressure to “jump off,” but he disappeared again from the public shortly after returning home. The Iranian security service says it is clear that he has submitted important documents to the United States.

Mass execution of Sunnis

August 2

Up to 20 Sunni men from the Kurdish region in the northwest are executed on the same day. They are convicted of a large number of murders, kidnappings, armed robberies and bomb attacks between 2009 and 2011. According to authorities, they are executed Kurds but they are described as Islamic extremists rather than Kurdish separatists.


Salary pay for public officials

July 26

Following the scandal involving the high salaries of senior civil servants, the government says that a salary cap of approximately SEK 50,000 should be introduced, and about 30,000 for executives with politically appointed positions.

Salary scandal harvests victims

July 2

The entire management of the State Development Fund is dismissed after it became known that they had salaries in excess of SEK 140,000 a month. This happens a few days after the Minister of Finance dismissed the CEOs of four banks after the disclosure of their soaring salaries, at least in the case of about half a million SEK a month. The statements that the heads of state corporations and government agencies have in many cases earned more than 100 times as much as ordinary employees have fueled the conservative’s criticism of reform-minded President Hassan Rohani.


Continued fighting at Iraqi border

June 28

The Revolutionary Guard is said to have killed eleven members of the oldest Kurdish guerrilla in Iran, the KDPI, in fighting near the Iraqi border. The guard must have lost three of his own.

Protest to the International Court of Justice

June 15

Iran sues the United States before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to recover about $ 2 billion frozen by US authorities (see April). For the time being, it is unclear whether the ICJ has the opportunity to raise the matter.

More Kurds killed

June 15

Another twelve Kurdish guerrillas and three Revolutionary Guardsmen are reported to have been killed in fighting a few miles from the border with the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq. According to the Revolutionary Guard, two guerrilla associations must have crossed the border to carry out sabotage on Iranian soil.

Eleven killed in fighting

June 13th

Iranian media reports that revolutionary guards have shot dead five members of a Kurdish guerrilla group in the northwest, near the Iraqi border. It is the first clash reported from that area since September 2015. At the same time, five members of a Sunni militia and a policeman are said to have been killed in a firefight in the southeastern Baluchistan province.

Iranian assets in Canada are seized

June 11

A court in Canada orders that Iranian assets in the country not under diplomatic protection be seized. According to the court, the value of the assets, estimated at the equivalent of more than SEK 100 million, is to be distributed to the hundreds of relatives of Americans killed in attacks in Argentina, Israel, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia between 1983 and 2002 and for which Iran is held responsible. Iran condemns the decision as a violation of the Canadian government’s ambition to normalize relations between the countries.


Ultra-conservative leader of the Expert Council

24th of May

Although reform-minded candidates made great strides in the February elections, the very conservative 89-year-old Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati is elected chairman of the Expert Council, the Assembly that will appoint a successor to the country’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, if he dies within the next eight years.


Reformists strengthened in elections

April 29

The second round of the parliamentary elections will also be a success for reformists and supporters of President Rohani. The final result after the election indicates that 133 of the total 290 seats in the new parliament are occupied by reformists, while the Conservative camp controls 125 seats. The others are independent candidates or representatives of minorities. The number of female members becomes record high with Iranian measures measured. The newly elected parliament comprises 17 women against 9 in the outgoing, and the number of women is just slightly higher than the number of priests amounting to 16. In the parliament elected after the 1979 revolution, over 160 priests sat. Since then the number has dropped steadily.

The United States buys heavy water

April 22

The United States will buy 32 tonnes of heavy water from Iran to “help Iran live up to its commitments” to cut its nuclear energy program, according to the State Department.

The United States seizes billions

April 20

The US Supreme Court orders Iran to pay nearly $ 2 billion in damages to US victims of Iranian terrorism. The money should be taken from Iranian accounts that have been blocked. Among the more than a thousand Americans who receive the money are relatives of 241 Marine Corps soldiers who were killed when a military operation in Beirut exploded in 1983 and 19 people killed in an explosion in Saudi Arabia in 1996. Iran claims the verdict was ordered by US political leadership in contrary to the basic rule of power sharing. Two of the eight judges share that view. The Iranian government describes the verdict as “theft”.

Financial support is being abolished

April 12

Parliament adopts a law that eliminates monthly financial aid of about SEK 100, which has been paid to 24 million Iranians. The IMF and other financial institutions have warned of a growing budget deficit unless government financial support is abolished.

Russian robot defense delivered

April 11

Iranian press reports that Russia has delivered the first part of the advanced S-300 robotic defense system. Sales were long halted by the international sanctions against Iran but became possible when the sanctions were lifted in 2015.


Threats from the West about new sanctions

March 30

The United States, France, the United Kingdom and Germany urge the UN Security Council to consider new sanctions on Iran following the country’s latest robotic test, which, according to the four Western powers, contradicts previous UN resolutions. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei says “robots, not negotiations” are the key to Iran’s future. Recently, former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said that Iran’s future is dependent on negotiations, not robots.

New robot samples

March 8th

Several types of ballistic robots with ranges ranging from 30 to 200 kilometers test shot. According to state media, the robots are fired from several locations in the country. Similar shootings in January led the US to impose new sanctions on Iran, just a day after the sanctions on the nuclear program were abolished.

Billionaire sentenced to death

6 March

Iran’s richest man Babak Zanjani is sentenced to death for corruption. When he was arrested in December 2013, he was estimated to have a wealth of more than SEK 100 billion. He is convicted of fraud and embezzlement of state funds in connection with oil sales. He was rich in exploiting a broad network of contacts to circumvent international sanctions against Iran.


Success for reformists

February 28

The reform-minded candidates who support President Rohani make a surprisingly strong choice. All 30 seats in Tehran accrue to reform candidates from the so-called Hope list. Several of the former members who most actively opposed Rohani’s approach to the western world are losing their seats. The reform forces also get a majority of the seats in the Expert Assembly, preliminary 52 out of 88. Both President Rohani and President Rafsanjani are elected, while two of the dominant Conservative members are eliminated. In Parliament, the Conservative camp is still the largest but without its own majority. In almost 60 of the parliamentary constituencies, no winner can be appointed. There, the election will be decided in a second round on April 29. The turnout is 62 percent.

Legislative elections

February 26th

General elections will be held on February 26. In the parliamentary elections, 4,844 candidates, including about a tenth of women, compete for the 290 seats. At the same time elections are held for the Expert Assembly, whose main task is to appoint the country’s highest leader. This election is considered particularly important this time, since Ayatollah Khamenei is 76 years old and it cannot be ruled out that he will die during the new term of the new Expert Assembly’s eight-year term. 159 religious leaders compete for the 88 seats.

Ex-president urges voters

February 21st

Former President Mohammad Khatami calls on voters via social media to vote for reform-minded and moderate candidates in the parliamentary elections. He says that a high turnout is needed to defeat the arch-conservative candidates. Khatami is not allowed to speak in print or e-media because of his support for the losing reform candidates in the controversial 2009 presidential election (see Modern History).

Reformistallians are formed

February 15

Politicians working for democratic reform and supporters of President Rohani say they have decided to work together to strengthen their chances in the parliamentary elections. According to former Vice President Mohammad Reza Aref, who is one of the initiators, the collaboration is named Alliance of Reformists and government supporters. Aref promises that many young candidates, like many women, will be allowed to stand for the alliance.

More candidates approved

February 2

Following a re-examination of those who wanted to run for office in the parliamentary elections, the Guardian Council approves another close to 1,500 candidates. The decision is expected to give increased chances for reform-minded candidates to be elected.

Criticism against conservative advice

February 1st

Former President Rafsanjani strongly criticizes the conservative Guardian Council for disqualifying thousands of reform-minded candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections. During a public ceremony, Rafsanjani rhetorically asks the Guardian Council: “Who has decided that you are competent to judge the others? Who gave you the right to seize all weapons, decide on all Friday prayers and rule over the state television?” Among those excluded from the election are Hassan Khomeini, grandson of former Supreme Leader Ayatolla Khomeini.


The supreme leader warns the president

January 19

In its first comment following the ceasefire deal, Iran’s top leader Ayatollah Khamenei urged President Rohani to be on his guard against “fraud from arrogant countries, especially the United States.”

Reform candidates are petitioned for the election

January 18

Ahead of the February parliamentary elections, more than 60 percent of the registered candidates have been rejected by the election committee, which is subordinate to the conservative Guardian Council. A spokesman for the reform-minded camp says that only 30 out of more than 3,000 registered reform candidates are allowed to stand. President Rohani criticizes the Guardian’s thinning of candidates and says that if only a political direction was allowed to sit in parliament, one could just as well be ignored in holding elections. Nine parties regarded as reform-minded urge the Guardian Council to redo the selection.

Capture exchange with the United States

January 17

In connection with the lifting of the sanctions, the US and Iran conduct a prisoner exchange. President Obama pardons three Iranian Americans convicted of sanctions and US prosecutors indict four Iranian citizens. In Iran, five imprisoned Americans are released. The United States also agrees to repay $ 400 million plus an interest of $ 1.3 billion on Iranian arms purchases that were paid but never delivered before the countries broke diplomatic relations in 1979.

Sanctions against Iran are lifted

January 16

The EU and the US abolish most financial sanctions against Iran since the IAEA confirmed that Iran has fulfilled its promises to sharply reduce its nuclear weapons capabilities. The number of uranium centrifuges has been reduced by at least two-thirds, Iran has disposed of a large part of its uranium supply, and the reactor core at the Arak plant, where weapons plutonium could have been manufactured, has been filled with concrete. The abolition of the sanctions means that Iran is re-integrated into the world economy and allowed to participate in the global banking system. The country will immediately have access to US $ 32 billion, which has been frozen in foreign accounts, and in total, the settlement is expected to give an inflow to the Iranian Treasury of about $ 100 billion. Trade with the outside world can resume in normal forms, which means, among other things, that Iran can start selling its oil on the world market again. Iran’s arch-enemies Israel and Saudi Arabia, as well as Republicans in the US Congress, are strongly criticizing the country’s re-integration into international cooperation. The sanctions abolished have only been intended to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. More limited sanctions imposed as a result of Iran’s supposed support for terrorists remain. And while most sanctions are lifted before the United States new, now as a result of a test firing in October 2015 by a ballistic robot with the capability to carry nuclear weapons. These penalties are directed at five individuals and six companies. More limited sanctions imposed as a result of Iran’s supposed support for terrorists remain. And while most sanctions are lifted before the United States new, now as a result of a test firing in October 2015 by a ballistic robot with the capability to carry nuclear weapons. These penalties are directed at five individuals and six companies. More limited sanctions imposed as a result of Iran’s supposed support for terrorists remain. And while most sanctions are lifted before the United States new, now as a result of a test firing in October 2015 by a ballistic robot with the capability to carry nuclear weapons. These penalties are directed at five individuals and six companies.

Iran stops imports from Saudi Arabia

7 th of January

After a few days of word war, Iran bans all goods imports from Saudi Arabia. Iran also accuses Saudi bombers of deliberately attacking the Iranian embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, where the two countries are indirectly at war with each other.

Saudi execution creates regional conflict

January 1st

Iran is embroiled in a diplomatic conflict with parts of the Sunni world after a prominent Shiite leader was executed in Saudi Arabia. The execution triggers strong protests in Iran, where protesters storm the Saudi embassy and set it on fire. Saudi Arabia interrupts diplomatic relations with Iran and is quickly accompanied by Bahrain, Sudan and Djibouti. The United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar call home their ambassadors from Tehran and downgrade relations but do not break completely. Iran accuses Saudi Arabia of increasing tensions in the region, where the two countries have long been on a confrontation course in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

Iran Culture

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