Iran's culture ministry has banned use of the word "wine" along with the names of "foreign animals" and certain dignitaries in books published in the country. According to the ministry, the censorship is designed to protect Iranians from "Western cultural onslaught" and promote "the principles of the Islamic revolution".

The head of book publishing at the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance, Mohammad Selgi, told Iranian magazine, Shiraze: "When new books are registered with us, our staff first have to read them page by page to make sure whether they require any editorial changes in line with promoting the principles of the Islamic revolution, effectively confronting the Western cultural onslaught and censoring any insult against the prophets."

Alcohol is largely banned in the Islamic republic, though its consumption is still high. Winemaking in Iran is thought to date back thousands of years with the large city of Shiraz lending its name to Shirazi wine. Legend has it that Shiraz wine (as known as Syrah) produced in France is made with grapes originally brought over from Iran centuries ago.

"Words like wine and the names of foreign animals and pets, as well as names of certain foreign presidents are also banned under the new restricting regulations," said Selgi.