The Iran News Network website, which is affiliated with the country’s government, reported
on April 5 that SMS messages containing the last name of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s top aide, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, were blocked in Iran.
The filtering was reportedly removed several hours after the story was published.
The website reported that those who sent text messages containing the word “Mashaei” received a message confirming that their text was delivered. However those messages reportedly never went through.
It is not clear which organ was behind the move. Many believe Mashaei, whose daughter is married to Ahmadinejad’s son, is being groomed by the Iranian president as his potential successor.
Filtered content often indicates what is considered a “sensitive” issue in the Islamic republic.
Last year, when the Iranian rial fell to its lowest value
in two decades, news sources reported that all text messages containing the word "dollar" in Persian were blocked. Mobile phone companies had said that they were not filtering the text messages.
The blocking of text messages was confirmed last year by lawmaker Ali Akbar Olia, who admitted
that sending text messages containing specific words can be problematic.
"I don’t want to call it censorship, but sometimes some words result in text messages not going through," he said.
Iran News Network says officials should explain to the public why Mashaei's name was filtered.
Earlier this year, some news websites reported that text messages containing the slogan “Viva Spring” had been filtered in Iran.
“Viva Spring” or “Long Live Spring” is believed to be a campaign slogan for the controversial Mashaei, who has angered many hard-liners by emphasizing the importance of an Iranian doctrine instead of an Islamic one.
-- Golnaz Esfandiari