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Amid Currency Slide, Iranians Say 'Dollar' Texts Blocked

A man walks past a currency-exchange shop in northern Tehran last week.

A man walks past a currency-exchange shop in northern Tehran last week.

Mobile-phone users in Iran are complaining that text messages with the word "dollar" are being blocked, amid a dramatic drop in the value of the Iranian currency, the rial.

Last week, the rial fell to its lowest value against the U.S. dollar in the past two decades, with one dollar trading at 18,000 rials on the open market. (The official rate fluctuates around 11,000-12,000.)

The slide came after U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law sanctions on Iran's Central Bank on December 31.

Iranian media, including the "Shargh" daily, reported this week that all text messages containing the word "dollar" in Persian were being blocked.

AFP reported on January 10 that foreign journalists in Tehran, its own correspondent included, verified the block -- but added that the word "euro" was being transmitted without problems.

But the reports drew denials from Iranian mobile-phone companies. The semi-official news agency ISNA said operators MCI and Irancell asserted that they were not filtering the "dollar" messages.

Still, other information about the rial is inaccessible., a website that provides up-to-the-minute rates for foreign currency and gold, was blocked in Iran last week.

ISNA reported that the blocking of the website had led to an increase in the number of people in front of some of the main exchange centers in the Iranian capital.

with agency reports