Entekhab

Entekhab (Choice) newspaper was launched April of 1999 under the management of the Islamic Seminary of Qom’s Islamic Propagation Office’s deputy Mohammad Mehdi Faghihi, a close advisor to Supreme Leader. Seyed Taha Hashemi, representative from Qum in Iran’s fifth Islamic Consultative Assembly and a member of the Islamic Propagation Office’s Council on Policy Making, was chosen as the newspapers editor in chief.

Surprisingly, Ayatollah Khamenei ordered the newspaper to shut down after only a few introductory editions. Mehdi Khalaji, who worked for Entekhab at the time, explained years later in an editorial for BBC Persian: “After a few introductory editions were published in January of 1999, Khamenei had the publication of Entekhab halted, because in his view, Entekhab was not dignified for the Qom seminary. The managers of the paper assured him that Entekhab would not be an official organ of the seminary, but rather a publication that would center around the thoughts of Ayatollah Khomeini and the principles of the Islamic Republic.”

Even though the Islamic Propagation Office of the Islamic Seminary of Qom owned the paper, the newspaper was recognized as the only right-wing publication that pushed progressive ideas and therefore became an enemy of other right-wing publications, such as Keyhan. On July 8th of 1999, Entekhab reporters covered the first major student uprising since 1979 in the Tehran University dormitories, leading to rumors that the paper would be shut down. A second controversy occurred when editor in chief Mehdi Faghihi gave an interview to IRNA discussing religious modernity and attacking Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, a member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts and known as a staunch ultra- conservative. After the interview was published, Mesbah Yazdi’s supporters took to Qom’s streets chanting, “Entekhab must shut down,” “Death to Faghihi,” and “Death to the traitor’s pen.”

The newspaper was shut down permanently in 2004. In the final edition Mehdi Faghihi and Taha Hashemi published an article that criticized the Islamic Seminary of Qom’s Islamic Propagation Office for the financial hardships it placed on the paper. Although the newspaper was shut down, Mehdi Faghihi and colleagues founded the online Entekhab News Agency. The managing director and editor in chief of the news agency is Mehdi Faghihi’s son Mostafa, and it is often filtered because of its criticism of President Ahmadinejad, and was ordered to shut down in June, 2009 after publishing claims of election fraud in the presidential race. The website reopened two years later, continuing its sharp criticism of Ahmadinejad.

Leading up to the impeachment of minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Seyyed Shamseddin Hosseini, Entekhab published numerous articles criticizing the minister for alleged misappropriation of three billion dollars. Hosseini remained silent until the impeachment failed, but soon after filed a complaint against the website, summoning Mostafa Faghihi to court. The website then published an article accusing the minister of seeking revenge on his many media critics.