Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Persian Letters

Another Iranian Sentenced To Prison Over Facebook Activities

An Internet cafe in Tehran
An Internet cafe in Tehran
Several Iranian news websites are reporting that Mostafa Akhavan, a student pilot and member of the National Trust party (established by opposition leader Mehdi Karrubi in 2005) has been sentenced to one year in prison on security- related charges connected to his activities on Facebook.

The charges for which Akhavan has been sentenced reportedly include "acting against [Iran's] national security, propaganda against the Islamic establishment over chanting slogans on Facebook, dissemination of news related to the Green Movement, membership in Facebook, issuing calls for illegal gatherings, conducting interviews with overseas media, and sending e-mails and articles to websites and networks opposing the [Iranian] regime."

The website Daneshjouonline reports that Akhavan's prison sentence will not be enforced for five years because he had no prior convictions.

Akhavan's prison sentence is the second that has been reported in Iran recently connected to Facebook activities.   

As we reported last week, another Iranian citizen, Houshang Fanaian, was sentenced in May to one year in prison for disseminating antistate propaganda on Facebook.

The prison sentences over Facebook activities could be an attempt by the authorities to spread fear and prevent citizens from engaging in political activities on Facebook.

Facebook is one of the main platforms on which Iranian opposition activists share news about the Green Movement, connect with each other, and discuss issues of interest, including sensitive topics that are banned or ignored in state media. Opposition protests are usually widely advertised on Facebook.

These activities and the relative freedom of speech and freedom of gathering that activists enjoy on Facebook seems to be of increasing concern to Iranian leaders, who have forcefully prevented these freedoms offline.

In recent years, authorities have increasingly turned their attention to all parts of cyberspace. They use it for their own purposes while pressuring those Iranians who criticize state policies or spread news about human rights abuses online.

Over the past several years, a number of online journalists have been jailed over their writings.

Last week, two bloggers -- Sakhi Riggi and Hossein Derakhshan -- were sentenced to 20 and 19 1/2 years in prison.

Authorities now appear to be paying more and more attention to the Facebook activities of opposition activists.  

Like tens of thousands of other websites, Facebook is blocked in Iran. Lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei told RFE/RL's Radio Farda, however, that membership in Facebook is not a crime in the country.

"If that was the case, then Iranian officials, including legislators who have Facebook pages, should be put on trial," he said.

An Iranian cleric, Hojatoleslam Gharib Reza, said recently on state television that Iran uses Facebook to connect with its supporters around the world.

"Social networking sites and cyberspace are tools that were used in popular and real revolutions, and it was also used in revolutions that the U.S. was pushing in countries -- velvet revolutions," Reza said, referring to the role of social media in the Arab uprisings.

He added that social media is an opportunity that, if not used properly, can turn into a threat.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
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Comment Sorting
by: Javed from: Tehran
June 17, 2011 18:36
Recently I came across a book called WAKEUP CALL by Paris Dipersico(an autobiography/ personal memoir) which in my opinion should be banned.The pirated copies of this disturbing book are circulating among the youth in U.A.E, Iran, and Pakistan . The Censor Board needs to take an action.

The author took up ISLAM and very boldly thrashed it down. Being brought up in a Muslim household himself , he shamelessly questions the very existance of Allah.

Not only he mocks the Islamic rituals and the Holy month of Ramadan but he also quoted Quranic verses and has given them an entirely new interpretation. He goes on to suggest amendments in the Quran. He disrespects the Holy Quran and he misunderstands and dares to mis interpret Surah Lut .Quoting him, "who knows , maybe Prophet Abraham and Prophet Lut were secret gay lovers who lived happily ever after." He plays with the sentiments of muslims when he is very much aware of Islamic beliefs.

He says: " Islam is a religion of 'Peace' and Muslims will kill you to prove it."

This book is not only blasphemous but also pornographic with extremely disturbing sexual details. This book contains explicit content such as excessive use of drugs, alcohol, upto the extreme of practice of homosexuality. He is a shameless, unethical, and an immoral human being whose book deserves to be highlighted, warned about , and banned not only in Muslim countries but also worldwide.

It's our responsibility as Muslims and as parents to protect our religion and our children from such filth.
In Response

by: one world from: miami usa
June 19, 2011 11:48
muslims and christians alike should practice their religion freely, but stop forcing their beliefs and morals on people not of their religion. ie the author is free to write whatever he chooses, and people should be free to read it and decide for themselves if it is of value. Censorship ? Seems the 'Censor Boards' are afraid people will make up their own minds ....which one would think is a right given to the individual by god. Or Allah. or whoever....
In Response

by: Ai-Uchi from: World
June 21, 2011 17:28
Your 'responsibility' as a parent is to provide your children with the tools and the know-how to make their own decisions and to beable to tell for themselves if books such as this are in fact "blasphemous but also pornographic' or if there is any truth or lesson one could take from it and further oneself. If your children read this books and turn into homosexual, drug addicted alcoholics then that is a direct reflect of your parenting, not of Paris Dipersico's freedom of expression.

by: Shayan from: USA
June 18, 2011 20:20
"He is a shameless, unethical, and an immoral human being whose book deserves to be highlighted, warned about , and banned not only in Muslim countries but also worldwide."
Dear Javed, people can read and decide for themselves. I don't need you to tell me and my kids what to read. Take your concerns to your dear "Censor Boards" in your wonderful free islamic countries and leave us alone!

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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