By: A. Mahabadi, political writer and analyst
A look at the role of social networks in the Iranian people’s nationwide protests
Among the issues that has made the Iranian regime leader Ali Khamenei and all other state officials and organs to struggle like crazy is how to deal with social networks in general and Telegram in particular.
As one of the most popular social networking apps in the world and Iran, Telegram is a highly encrypted messaging app that offers such capabilities like creating channels, groups, and administration.
The messenger has currently 200 million active users across the world, of which 40 million are Iranians, according to figures released by Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov.
The question now is why the regime has announced that it’s a sin to use social networks, including Telegram, and why does it fear people’s tendency towards such applications?
It goes without saying that there’s no freedom in Iran. Under the vilayat-e-faqih, the regime’s legitimacy comes not from people’s vote, but god. Regime leaders thus consider any opposition to their regime as ‘waging war against god’ that deserves the most severe punishment. That’s why the first victim that was sent to the gallows in Iran under the rule of mullahs was freedom itself.
Executing opponents is the logic and a part of the nature of the vilayat-e-faqih system.
There’s no free, independent political or non-political organization or medium in Iran. After being under the rule of mullahs for 39 years, all Iranian formations and media are directly or indirectly linked to a regime whose cornerstone is negation of human rights.
From this perspective, one can feel a small amount of the pain and suffering the people in this country of 85 million are going through. When we hear that the ruling regime has turned Iran into a prison for Iranian people, it’s not only not an exaggeration, but an undeniable and painful reality.
Iranian people are even deprived of freely communicating with their fellow countrymen.
With vilayat-e-faqih’s monstrous espionage system spreading to the country’s every corner, even houses and people’s private affairs are not spared. People are deprived of having free access to non-governmental media.
Communication networks as well as the social ones are totally controlled by Ministry of Intelligence and regime’s other oppressive entities.
With such a nature and such an infrastructure for its oppressive and killing system, it’s no wonder that the Iranian regime is the world record holder for torture and execution.
But let’s not forget that even such an amount of barbarism in the current era has not been able to stop Iranian people, the youth in particular, from moving towards freedom.
Millions of arrests, massive executions and massacres and all kinds of physical and psychological tortures practiced against Iranian people over the past 39 years is really unprecedented in human history, but it has meanwhile made people and their children in Resistance of Iran more determined to fight for freedom and topple the religious dictatorship, as they’ve realized well that security, peace and stability in the region could only happen with overthrowing the Iranian regime.
The Iranian regime’s recent hysteric and crazy attempts to block people’s access to social networks is the result of Iranian people’s recent nationwide uprising, as it targeted regime’s both factions, the so-called hardliners and moderates. The uprising crossed ‘regime overthrow’ line and turned the page in such a way that there’s no turning back imaginable.
Regime leaders now seek to stop the uprising by taking such measures.
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, announced that the decision to block Telegram has been made at regime’s highest level, which points to Ali Khamenei.
Musa Afshar, member of NCRI’s Foreign Affairs Committee, meanwhile says that the Iranian regime’s blocking Telegram is an instance of violating human rights.
Boroujerdi also said that the regime is going to replace Telegram with a domestically developed messenger app that could be managed by the regime, which is a really dangerous decision for Iranian people, as all the exchanged data will be recorded and monitored by regime’s spying and intelligence bodies, which in turn could lead to arrests and severe punishments.
Blocking access to Telegram will be faced with strong reaction among people, in such a way that it could potentially flare up the uprising. That’s why some officials are concerned about the decision to ban Telegram as they fear people’s reaction.
According to estimates, there are 10-15 thousand Telegram-based online businesses in Iran. Hassan Rouhani once even pointed to 30,000 such businesses. During a temporary ban on Telegram in late December, online businesses suffered close to 500 billion tomans in financial damages.
The fact, however, is that blocking Telegram won’t encourage people to turn to domestic, regime-owned messengers like ‘Soroush’, but it will only increase the use of anti-censorship programs. The international community meanwhile is trying to provide Iranian people with more advanced anti-censorship technologies so they could thwart regime’s internet censorship measures and have their voices heard louder and stronger.
That said, it becomes crystal clear that Telegram has now turned into a security issue that is more than ever threatening the very existence of the regime.
Iranian regime officials claim that the PMOI has taken advantage of such networks to infiltrate in the country and overthrow the regime.
“With regard to cyberspace, I urge you to be careful of enemy’s artillery fire. Beware, so the enemy can’t take advantage of this space against your identity, existence and the system. Thousands of artilleries are firing towards us”, addresses Khameni an audience of regime officials on December 27, 2017.
A true understanding of domestic and international developments related to Iran meanwhile leads us to the following facts:
1. Iranian people are now prepared to promote their uprising to a blooming stage, with uprising centers linked to Resistance of Iran spreading across the country.
2. The progress made by a regional and international front against the regime, and in line with Resistance of Iran’s ‘regime change’ strategy, is undeniable. In addition to that, Trump’s 120-deadline for fixing the nuclear deal is also looming.
3. The conflict between regime’s rival bands and officials at highest levels takes new dimensions day after day, putting regime’s overthrow in the near perspective.
4. A sharp rise in the value of US dollar has caused an unprecedented turbulence in Iran’s society, with ‘hungry people’s uprising’ on the horizon.
This is the path where Iran’s two opposing forces, the ruling vilayat-e-faqih regime on one side and people and Resistance of Iran on the other, are preparing for a final confrontation, to bring about the big development everyone has been waiting for. The victory will no doubt belong to people and Resistance of Iran.