Dec 31, 2017

Iran's government threatens access to social media amid protests

Iranian students protest at Tehran University yesterday during a demonstration driven by anger over economic problems. Photo: AP

As pro-reform protests grow to tens of thousands and spread across Iran, the repressive, authoritarian government is warning of an "iron fist" response, and threatened access to social media:

Pavel Durov, the CEO of Telegram, a popular messaging app, tweeted: "Iranian authorities are blocking access to Telegram for the majority of Iranians after our public refusal to shut down ... peacefully protesting channels." Telegram then blocked one of its channels — amadnews — which was encouraging users to engage in violent protests and use Molotov cocktails against police officers.

  • The government said it also would temporarily restrict access Instagram. (Reuters)
  • Interior Minister Rahmani Fazli warned that what he called the misuse of social networks was "causing violence and fear," and that "such behavior will be smashed." (CNN)
  • Two demonstrators have been killed, and dozens arrested. (AFP)
  • The protests "began in the north-east as an outcry against economic hardship and rising prices, but turned political in many places, with slogans chanted against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and Iran's interventionist foreign policy in the region." (BBC)

Why it matters, via CNN: "The largest public display of discontent in Iran since the 2009 Green Movement has brought ... a scene ... unfathomable a decade ago — protesters challenging the rule of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

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