My friend Thomas Erdbrink lives in Iran and subscribes to the ‘Islamic’ edition of NRC Handelsblad. When the sealed newspaper lands on his doormat in Tehran, its contents have already been secretly checked by the Iranian authorities. They do so seeking images that are unsuitable for the eyes of inhabitants of the Islamic Republic. Forbidden items used to be carefully suppressed using scissors, a ruler and blue stickers. Photos would be left intact insofar as possible, only covering the parts that were absolutely necessary. Each civil servant would go to work with scissors and stickers in their own way. The quantity of bare leg that could be shown seemed to vary for no apparent reason, and sometimes the odd picture of genitals would slip through unnoticed.

A year ago, the blue stickers stopped appearing. For reasons unknown, the newspaper is no longer censored in this way. And so, as a mark of respect, I now present the best examples of old-fashioned censorship, handcrafted by Iranian civil servants.