World-famous Iranian photographer Abbas has criticized Shargh newspaper for censoring one of his photographs.
To mark the anniversary of the first Friday prayer service led by Mahmoud Taleghani, a key figure in the Islamic Revolution, Shargh published a photograph Abbas took of the senior cleric — but cropped out a cigarette from the photograph.
Abbas was furious that his photograph was censored, and wrote to the paper:
I noticed you published my photo of Ayatollah Taleghani without my permission. I am aware there are no copyright laws in Iran, but the least you could do was to publish the photo whole — with the cigarette in Taleghani’s right hand. One starts by erasing a cigarette and ends up erasing Trotsky! (in case you do not know, this refers to the famous photo of Trotsky — standing next to Lenin —which was erased.)
I therefore request that you publish AGAIN the photo whole. I am sure Ayatollah Taleghani did not expect you to make him a non-smoker.
For your information, I also have a photo of Ayatollah Khamenei smoking a pipe.
Shargh's decision to censor the photograph is perhaps surprising given that the independent newspaper is known for its progressive and reformist leanings. The editor-in-chief responded by saying he authorized the cigarette to be cropped out because he did not wish to promote smoking.