Controlling the virtual world is one of the priorities of Iran’s pro-government Basij force and members are receiving necessary training in that area, according to an official with the militia.
Abbas Mahmudian, an official in charge of media and public relations of Khorasan’s Imam Reza Basij force, said that through “policies and planning” the Basij organization has set the “conquering of the virtual world”
as one of its priorities.
Mahmudian said in this regard over 100 members of the Basij went recently through training in Mashad:
In this three-day course, 120 Basij sisters and brothers learned about blogging, social networking sites, psychological operations, online spying security, and acquaintance with Basij cyber centers, mobile phones and their capabilities, and computer games with the aim of targeted entry of the virtual world.
Iranian officials have warned about the dangers of the Internet, which they see as a fertile ground for “the enemy’s soft war” against Iran and emphasized the need to bring it under control.
Last January, the cultural deputy of the Basij organization Mohammad Ali Nayini said that the militia is taking action for the hardliners to conquer the virtual world within a year.
Yet despite the government's massive online censorship -- and other measures it has taken including the launching of pro-government blogs and social networking sites -- it hasn’t so far been successful in fully controlling the web and preventing activists and other citizens from using it for their own purposes.
The Internet remains an empowering tool for the opposition, which uses websites and social-networking sites to spread news and information.
Earlier this week opposition leader Mehdi Karrubi spoke to his supporters online
and answered their questions about a number of issues including the future of the opposition Green Movement, the support of the clergy, and the role of Iranian expats and social networking.
During his online chat, Karrubi said that he is involved in talks for participating in Qods Day demonstrations that are taking place in Iran on the last Friday of the month of Ramadan.
-- Golnaz Esfandiari