Unwelcome images of life in Tehran
Milad Alaei worked for Iranian news agencies from 2009 to 2014. His less than flattering pictures of everyday life in Iran led to him being fired. Threatened with a trial, he moved to Austria in 2015. Milad Alaei gave the photographs that he had been forced to withdraw or that hadn't been published in Iran to Deutsche Welle
Forbidden fruit: two window shoppers wearing chadors gaze at sparkly dresses that don't leave much to the imagination. The morality police objected to the photo, which was not published in Iran.
Alaei didn't reveal to these street musicians that he worked for Fars News Agency. After the protests and arrests in 2009, many Iranians kept their distance from state media. It is illegal to play Western pop music on the streets of Iran. The pictures were only available on the Fars website for a very brief period.
In this picture, it wasn't the street musicians that were the problem, but the two women in the foreground on the right. Fars News editors said they seemed too "immoral". Alaei, however, didn't want to airbrush them out. "A magazine later published my photos on the subject of street musicians without mentioning my name," he noted.
For many non-Iranians, it may not be apparent at first glance what made this photo unacceptable. The picture shows a female beggar holding a child in her arm who is no longer an infant. The photographer captured the scene at the bazaar in Tehran. For the censors, it was unacceptable that the photo shows a beggar wearing a chador – the overgarment worn by women across the country.
"The girl didn't even notice she was being photographed," said Alaei. According to the photographer, it is quite possible that she was under the influence of drugs: bands of beggars in Tehran are notorious for "borrowing" children from poor families, then sedating them with drugs and using them to draw sympathy from passers-by.
Alaei was once commissioned to do a photo series on the topic of a campaign to make urban areas more attractive. But the uninterested bus passengers depicted in front of a colourful design on a facade didn't square with the editor's expectations.
Thanks to a private initiative, street children in a poor Tehran district can receive a classroom education. So what was wrong with this photograph? The answer to the riddle: the picture of Ayatollah Khomeini, the political and spiritual leader of the Islamic Revolution, wasn't in a sufficiently prominent position in the pupil's copybook.
This photo of a homeless man was also considered objectionable. It was taken in Darvazeh Ghar, a district in southern Tehran with a high rate of criminality and drug use.
On the outskirts of society: this photo was also dismissed as an undesirable depiction of suffering in the Iran. It shows a drug-addicted couple with a baby.
Drug-induced misery: drug abuse is officially the second most common non-natural cause of death in Iran, after traffic accidents. Drug dealers are frequently executed. Although there are attempts at prevention and rehabilitation, pictures offering a frank depiction of drug-related misery are not welcome.
This photo shows a young Afghan worker on an ordinary day in a sewing room at Tehran's bazaar. In Fars News' estimation, his unclothed upper body in front of a partly drooping Iranian flag was not appropriate for publication.