Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Chickens facing censorship in Iran

The rising cost of chicken in Iran has prompted the country's police chief to urge broadcasters to censor it from television screens in the interests of social harmony. Against a backdrop of lengthening food queues, Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam, the head of Iran's law enforcement forces, has warned that films depicting scenes of chicken dinners could provoke the underprivileged classes to attack the rich.

"They show chicken being eaten in movies while somebody might not be able to buy it," Mr Ahmadi-Moghaddam, brother-in-law of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, told a law enforcement officers conference in Tehran. "Films are now the windows of society and some people observing this class gap might say that we will take knives and take our rights from the rich. IRIB [Iran's state broadcaster] should not be the shop window for showing all which is not accessible."

The warning is the latest sign of official alarm over the strains being caused by rampant inflation and international sanctions aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear programme, which the West suspects is intended to produce an atom bomb, despite Tehran's denials. Rising chicken prices have come to symbolise the privations being endured by ordinary Iranians amid this increasingly grim landscape. In recent weeks, shoppers have had to fork out 70,000 rials (£3.67) for a kilogram of chicken, around three times last year's price.

Farmers and retailers have blamed a shortfall of imported livestock feed – partly caused by sanctions – leading in turn to a drastic rise in the price of domestically-produced feed. Similar increases have been witnessed in the costs of red meat, fruit and vegetables. With chicken forming a core part of the meat-rich national diet, long-queues have been reported at state food distribution centres, where it has been sold in rationed quantities at lower, government-fixed, prices. Perhaps with a view to stemming negative reporting, the Caspian Sea province of Gilan even took the novel step of offering discounted chicken to accredited journalists.

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