How to Fight against Iranian Censorship


Nakoja means a place that does not exist. Or utopia. And it is also the name of a Paris-based publishing house that publishes Iranian authors and defies strict Iranian censorship. 

"We print books by exile authors as well as those still living in Iran. And then we send them back to the country. An underground book market emerged there," explained TINOUSH NAZMJOU who founded the publishing house a few years ago. Nakoja publishes all books in paper form as well as electronically to ease their distribution. 

The publishing house also organizes the Tehran Book Fair, Uncensored, which sort of mocks the official Tehran International Fair. "We decided to imitate this fair, but in an uncensored version. We travel with books from town to town, hold open-air debates and build on the relaxed Iranian atmosphere," described Tinoush Nazmjou. The guest believes that dictatorship is based on symbols. The regime creates an atmosphere of terror.

It also affects how authors write. "Writing is an intimate thing. But artists are often terrified so they censor themselves in advance. Self-censorship affects the ability to rebel. It makes us submissive." Mahdiyeh Sadrnezhad from the Nakoja publishing house described the corrupt system maintained in Iran by several ruling families who control both politics andbusiness. 

The discussion also covered the topic of women's involvement. According to Nazmjou, literature written by women plays a very important role. Feminism has reportedly been on the rise in recent years in Iran. Women are also often in the front lines during protests. "In Iran women are subordinate. However, many of the novels we publish are written by female writers. They realized they had to fight censorship. So they write books that are more interesting," added Tinoush Nazmjou.