Citation: Hejazi, Arash, ‘You don’t deserve to be published’ Book Censorship in Iran, LOGOS: The Journal of the World Book Community, Volume 22, Number 1, 2011 , pp. 53-62(10), DOI: 10.1163/095796511X562644
Censorship is as old as human intellect. It has been practised in almost every country at some level throughout history: from 399 BC, when Socrates was forced to drink poison, to the horrors of the Inquisition, and the oficial coining of the concept with the publication of Index Librorum Prohibitorum by the Roman Catholic Church; from the obligation of English publishers to register their books with the Stationers’ Company in the 16th century until the case of D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover; and the Nazi book-burning campaign and the absolute offfĳicial control of the governments of the USSR, China, and Eastern European countries over published material.
It has always been a highly controversial issue as well, especially since Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) requested the member states of the UN to enforce freedom of speech in their countries. The concept of censorship has been defĳined by various authors and organizations, but no agreed defĳinition has yet been given; therefore the term covers a wide range of activities which sometimes overlap with other concepts, such as moderation, regulation, sensitivity, and intervention. However, for the purpose of this research, the term censorship only refers to restrictions imposed by an authority or authoritative body on a creative work, which impedes the availability of the original work to its potential audience prior to or after its publication, or forces the creator to modify or omit parts or all of the work against their free will. Therefore,
editorial intervention does not fĳit the criteria, as it can be prevented by the free will of the author. The only exception is self-censorship which can be categorized under censorship by fear; one of the most powerful restrictive tools which may have the power to act as an authoritative body, inflicted by conditions outside the author’s control.
The importance of addressing censorship as an issue becomes more evident when considering that, despite the abolition of most of the traditional and historical tools for imposing restrictions on freedom of speech by the coming of information technology and the internet revolution, it is still being practised, and controls a wide range of the mind’s expressions, including books.
Therefore, it seems that raising awareness towards the consequences of censorship has never been more important since the Enlightenment, and the censorship practised in Iran today is a good example…