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Authorities Warn Iranians Not To Protest -- By SMS

Don't do what? Who's calling, please?
Don't do what? Who's calling, please?
The Iranian news website “Tabnak” and several bloggers are reporting that authorities are sending text messages to citizens warning them not to take part in antigovernment protests.

According to “Tabnak,” the SMS warns recipients that they have been identified as participants in past protests, and that they should stop attending demonstrations.

The reports come ahead of Student Day on December 7, which the opposition has vowed to “turn green” in support of the Green movement backing opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi.

One blogger posted a picture of the cautionary SMS, which states: “Respected citizen, based on our information, you have been influenced by the antisecurity propaganda of the foreign media. If you get involved in any illegal protest and get in touch with the foreign media...”

The image is cut off after that, but according to other sources, the message threatens that the person “will be considered a criminal according to several articles of the Islamic law and dealt with accordingly.”

Some recipients say that the messages seem to have been sent out at random. “Tabnak” quotes a baker in Khuzestan who had received the SMS as saying that he hadn’t been to Tehran, the site of most of the major protests, for several years. “I don’t understand why I received this anonymous message about security,” he said.

Reports emerged about a similar warning sent by text message before the November 4 anniversary of the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover. On that occasion, thousands of members of the opposition movement protested against President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

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