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Many of Isfahani articles found a much wider readership inside Iran, distributed in “samizdat” form (a Soviet-era hand-to-hand practice used to evade censorship).
The weekly attracted even more readers when it went online in 2006.
Isfahani had started his career in Iran as the publisher of a magazine devoted entirely to crossword puzzles.
Soraya wrote: "The feeling of being both Christian and Muslim, but at the same time of being neither one nor the other has engraved in my flesh two divergent poles between which my existence has unfolded.
The one is methodically European, the other savagely Persian".
At the ceremony in London, Siavash Avesta, a TV talk-show host in Paris, spoke of Isfahani’s “deep love of Iran and attachment to human values.” Hadi Khorsandi, one of Iran’s most popular poets, lamented the fact that so many talented Iranians had to leave their homeland, producing the biggest “brain drain” in human history, according to a World Bank report.
Ali-Reza Nurizadeh, a poet and popular TV talk-show host, spoke of his years of contributions to for years before fleeing Iran spoke of his admiration for Isfahani’s readiness to let diverse views be freely expressed in his weekly.