Last week, however, the Iranian Consulate in this Afghan city near the Iranian border complained to the Afghan Ministry of Culture that the student newspaper, “Pegah,” was inappropriately critical of Tehran’s crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators.

The newspaper was closed for 10 days, the university fired the responsible journalists and the paper was reopened with no news of the protests.

The measure, however, is likely to backfire among Afghanistan’s increasingly educated and media-savvy younger generation. Student groups denounced the newspaper’s closure and refused to hold their tongues in public.