Iran’s press watchdog has suspended a newspaper after it published a front-page graphic of the poverty line purportedly being drawn by the hand of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
The suspension of the Kelid paper was “in accordance with the media law” watchdog head Alaedin Zohourian said, according to state news agency IRNA Monday.
The graphic, which showed a hand with the distinctive ring of Khamenei, was used to illustrate an article with the headline “Millions of Iranians Below Poverty Line.”
Khamenei has a political and religious status which makes him effectively untouchable in Iran.
Iran, with a population of 83 million people, is facing an economic crisis after international sanctions.
There were high hopes for economic relief after Iran’s 2015 pledge not to build or acquire nuclear weapons -- a goal it has always denied pursuing.
But those hopes were dashed in 2018 when then-president Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal and launched or reimposed crippling sanctions as part of a sweeping “maximum pressure” campaign.
On top of that, when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, Iran became the region’s worst-hit country.