A conservative news website in Iran published the leaked contents of a contract between the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and a private company, charging that the Ministry has outsourced book censorship.
A copy of the contract leaked to social media on Monday, August 12, has gone viral, embarrassing Ministry officials.
Every book needs to receive permission by the ministry before it is published in Iran. The ministry conducts a detailed review and vets the content in terms of Islamic Republic's political and social red lines.
The Culture Ministry subsequently explained that it has outsourced some of its executive and administrative affairs to a company named Karafarinan Farhang va Honar (Culture and Art Entrepreneurs).
Although the contract says it has vested the authority to make sure that books "comply with standards," the Ministry says "book censorship is government responsibility" that cannot be outsourced to private sector.
Some social media users have named the founders of the company, who are not known individuals in book publishing or in the cultural sphere.
The contract handed over the responsibility to the company for seven months in 2018 to examine 13 million pages of books against fourty billion rials, roughly just under one million dollars at the official exchange rate.