TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran has banned The Economist magazine for describing the Persian Gulf as merely “the Gulf” in a map published in the latest edition, state television reported late Wednesday.
It is the second time in two years that Iran has prohibited a publication of international repute for failing to use the term “Persian Gulf” in its maps. In November 2004, it banned the National Geographic atlas when a new edition appeared with the term “Arabian Gulf” in parenthesis beside the more commonly used Persian Gulf.
Tehran believes in aggressively defending the historical term “Persian Gulf” against “Arabian Gulf,” which it regards as a name dreamed up by Arab nationalists. While Iran dominates the eastern side of the waterway, the western shores are held by Arab countries.
The newscaster in the 10:30 p.m. TV news bulletin said the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance had banned the importation and distribution of the current and future editions of The Economist. The ban would only be lifted when the journal used “Persian Gulf,” the ministry was quoted as saying.
In London, where The Economist is published, the magazine said it would stand its ground.
“We’ve used ‘the Gulf’ for a long time, and we have no intention of changing it at the moment,” a spokeswoman for The Economist said, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with the magazine’s policy.
The current issue runs an article on the Iranian nuclear dispute titled: “Iran and nuclear diplomacy: Risky Bargaining – Should Iran’s latest threat to stop oil exports be taken seriously?” The offending map shows Iran and its neighbours, with the waterway designated “the Gulf.”