Iran has again shut down a leading reformist newspaper after it published an interview with a woman the government said promoted immoral values at odds with strict Islamic practices.

The government Monday said it banned the pro-reform daily Shargh ("East") because on Saturday it published an interview with an expatriate poet who has written about homosexuality. The paper Monday published an apology for running the interview but the government ordered the paper closed anyway.

Saghi Qahraman, a poet now living in Canada, said in the published interview that gender boundaries should be less strict in Iran.

Homosexuality is illegal in Iran and conviction for practicing it can carry the death penalty.

The newspaper was previously ordered shut down last September but then resurfaced on newsstands in May after the ban was lifted.

In July, the government also closed down the pro-reform newspaper Ham Mihan ("Compatriot") soon after it was launched. Iran has shut down more than 100 pro-reform publications since 2000.

In another government crackdown on what it deems immoral behavior, Iranian police last week raided a rock concert in a town near Tehran and detained more than 200 concertgoers and performers.

One official was quoted in Iranian media as calling the concert "satanic." A government prosecutor said drugs, alcohol and "obscene" compact discs were seized at the concert, staged in a private orchard. Some women were filmed at the concert not wearing the modest clothing and headscarves required by law since the 1979 Islamic revolution.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.