chapter  10
The Tehran Spring and the debate over the freedom of the press
President Mohammad Khatami
Pages 20

President Mohammad Khatami considered freedom of the press to mean that a publication was free to disseminate any voice it chose unless that voice endangered Islamic principles or its publication constituted a criminal violation of some specified law. Khatami was promising a dialogue with the world in January 1998; the Iranian press began to enjoy a period of considerable freedom. Khatami's presidency became known as the 'Tehran Spring'. Student protests broke out at Tehran University as the government shut down reformist newspaper Salam in the summer of 1999. President Khatami's reformist project of increased secular legal freedoms and a broadening of civil society, Ayatollah Khamenei believed, was a Westernizing and secularizing attempt to divert Iranian society and government from its defining and divinely ordained Islamic principles. The Supreme Leader Khamenei emphasized that his battle with the press was not a fight against freedom or freedom of expression but a defence of society.