Iran, Bibles and censorship

Iran, Bibles and censorship

At the top of a Wiki list of banned books in Iran are The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, and Dawkins’ The God Delusion. Hardly surprising, really, but Lessons to Avoid AIDS … ?

Anyway, what started my brief investigation into Iranian censorship was a cutting from today’s Times emailed to me by a Freethinker reader. It was a report that a new Persian translation of the Bible will be smuggled into Iran to feed a growing Christian community in the Islamic republic.

Publishers of the new edition, unveiled at a ceremony in London today, plan to dump 300,000 copies on Iran over the next three years. Iranian clerics have denounced the move, but missionary groups claim Iran’s Christian community is the world’s fastest growing, rising by 20 percent a year.

My own view is that Iranians need the Bible like aardvarks need aromatherapy, but those intent on defying the authorities in Iran naturally think otherwise, and believe the Bible will  satisfy a hunger among young Iranians for a new set of superstitions.

In announcing a “100,000 Bibles for Iran programme”, one outfit – World Compassion – made an astonishing claim a while ago:

About 90 percent of the under 30 generation is searching for something other than Islam to believe in. This search for truth presents an opportunity to share the Gospel that has been banned for over 30 years.

According to this 2011 report, the Iranian authorities seized 6,500 copies of the Bible in northwest Iran. At the time Dr Majid Abhari, adviser to the social issues committee of the parliament in Iran stated:

These missionaries with reliance on huge money and propaganda are trying to deviate our youth.

In a government interview with Mehr news agency, Abhari explained that the Bibles were taken because of governmental concerns that Christian missionaries mean to “deceive” young Iranians with “false propaganda”.

• The photo of an Iranian man with a Bible used to illustrate this post was taken from the Images of Iran site.

Hat tip: Ian P.

8 responses to “Iran, Bibles and censorship”

  1. Jeffrey Jones says:

    Iran needs to ban the Quran as well as the Bible.

  2. Broga says:

    They should smuggle tens of thousands of copies of “The God Delusion” into the country and help get ride of both superstitions. How fragile must be their belief, how little their confidence in their God when other views are seen as so threatening. The BBC, as we know, maintains a rigid censorship of atheist opinions on programmes which they would undermine.

  3. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    If 90% of those under 30 are searching for something other than islam then they won’t find any truth in the bible. It’s just another set of fairy tales and they’ve obviously had enough BS.

  4. Matt Westwood says:

    Much as I believe the Bibble is laughably, er, laughable, I utterly condemn restricting access to it. Banning books — any books — is an attack on free speech.

    And to anyone who says, “I support free speech — up to a point”, I stick my fingers in my ears and sing “la la la la, I can’t hear you, fascist, la la la la …”

  5. barriejohn says:

    About 90 percent of the under 30 generation is searching for something other than Islam to believe in.

    Evidence please? Christians have been throwing out “statistics” like this ever since statistics were first invented, and they are “religiously” repeated without anyone ever asking where they actually came from. Billy Graham was a past master of the tactic, which is used to silence opposition and browbeat the weakminded. A bit rich coming from people so concerned about “the truth”.

  6. L.Long says:

    Well since islame kills apostates (I think that’s the right word) then shipping all those buyBulls over there will definitely help with the population problems.

  7. Norman Paterson says:

    Let’s hope they read ’em.

  8. Stephen Turner says:

    So all those websites that host copies of the Bible are banned too, right? I’d imagine anyone willing to take the risks of Bible smuggling would be willing to take the risks of printing their own copies too.