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Iran wants its kids reading more books

Those who have lamented the decline of the book have an unlikely new friend. From Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency:

Tehran, July 20, IRNA -- Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Wednesday urged the cultural institutes to spare no efforts to promote culture of reading books and encourage the youth to make optimum use of libraries....

The Supreme Leader said that reading is the best means to propagate modern ideas and enlighten the society and nothing else than replace the merits of books, a reference to the prevalence of audio-visual media posing threat to the role of books as the major means of communication in the society.

No doubt this will go down in the annals of Iran's efforts to promote reading, along with moments like this:

The Teheran [sic] radio quoted Ayatollah Khomeini as asking ''all the Muslims to execute them,'' referring to Mr. [Salman] Rushdie [author of The Satanic Verses], who lives in London, and the publishers of the book, Viking Penguin, ''wherever they find them.'' He said that anyone killed carrying out his order would be considered a martyr.

Or this:

In 2007, Iran's ultra-conservative daily Kayhan called Harry Potter "a billion-dollar Zionist project" and a "destructive bomb" for children's minds. It alleged that the author J.K. Rowling had links to Zionists and that was how she became so well known.

But hey, anything that gets kids to read.

BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

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