There were warnings and protests from Iranian hardliners last weekend, when European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met with with several human rights activists at the Austrian embassy in Tehran on Saturday, March 8, 2014.
In a negative article about the meeting, conservative newspaper Javan, doctored a photo, erasing an image of Gohar Eshghi, the mother of the blogger Sattar Beheshti, who died under torture in police custody in 2012.
Javan later published both photos with an explanation, saying they had censored the photo to avoid criticism for labeling the bloggers’ aging mother a “seditionist”.
Half Saddam, half Ashton
Mohammad Hassan Najmi tweeted a photo of a propaganda billboard showing Ashton's face halved and shared with Saddam Hussein's.
— Mohammad Hasan Najmi (@mnajmi64) March 12, 2014
In Tehran, some posters on billboards depict Ashton's face as half Saddam Hussein [former Iraqi president who led a war against Iran, 1980-88].
They censor because they fear
Mehdi Mohseni tweeted a satirical image of Sattar Beheshti's mother being cut out:
— Mehdi Mohseni (@mehdimohseni) March 12, 2014
They censor because they are scared.
Mohammad Moni tweeted on March 11 on the likelihood of government complicity with the protest:
— محمّد معینی (@mmoeeni) March 11, 2014
Several students protested against Ashton's meeting with activists in front of the Austrian Embassy. Keep in mind you need a permission for even a water fight here. [several people were arrested after a playful water fight in public in 2011]
“Ms. Ashton, Iran is not Ukraine”
A small group of hardliners demonstrated in front of Austrain embassy. One of the slogans was: “Ms. Ashton, this is not Ukraine.”
It was the first visit of an EU foreign policy chief to Iran since 2008.