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 Wednesday.
It is the second time in two years that Iran has banned such an international publication for failing to use the term “Persian Gulf” in a map. In 2004, it banned the National Geographic atlas when a new edition appeared with the term “Arabian Gulf” in parentheses beside the more commonly used Persian Gulf.
Tehran believes in aggressively defending the use of the historical term Persian Gulf. It regards the name Arabian Gulf, used by some, as a name dreamed up by Arab nationalists.
While Iran dominates the eastern side of the waterway, the western shores are held by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries.
State television reported late Wednesday that the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance had banned the importation and distribution of 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.
She said the magazine sells about 750 English-language copies in Iran per week.
The current week’s 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 neighbors, with the waterway designated “the Gulf.”
Iran lifted its earlier ban on the National Geographic atlas after the publishers decided the following month to drop the term “Arabian Gulf” in favor of a note, printed in the middle of the Gulf, that said while most people call it the Persian Gulf, “this body of water is referred to by some as the Arabian Gulf.”