Iran’s nonsensical ban on a best-selling mobile game

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By Amir Basiri

An Iranian government committee recently announced a ban on the famous mobile game “Clash of Clans,” claiming the game encourages violence and tribal conflict while having a negative addictive effect on teenagers.

If violence is a true concern for the Iranian regime, “Clash of Clans” should be the least of its worries, because the government is already knee-deep in inciting violence. There are public hangings and lashings, crackdowns on protests and peaceful events, broadcasts of propaganda against minorities, and military theme parks where children can fire at the United States flag with live ammunition, to name a few.

The truth is Tehran fears anything of historical, cultural, economic or political nature where people can find common ground and get together.

The real concern with “Clash of Clans” is the capability the game provides for people to socialize and interact beyond the regime’s control.

The regime’s hysterical mistrust of online platforms dates back to the country-wide uprisings following the rigged 2009 elections in Iran, which were organized and widely covered on social media. The regime has since been extremely wary of any online service that allows people to connect and exchange information, including video games.

In August, the government banned “Pokemon Go,” the augmented reality game that has seen sensational success across the globe since its July 2016 release. At least the regime was honest enough to cite security concerns, even though it didn’t specify how the game was a security threat. “Pokemon Go” has created events where thousands of people gather in one location.

The regime is extremely fearful of any medium that could be used to organize large gatherings, as it showed earlier this year in the crackdown of the Cyrus the Great gathering at Pasargade or the restrictions it imposes every year on the Persian fire festival ceremony.

The regime’s disdain of “Clash of Clans” — which already enjoys a millions-strong audience in Iran and has many socializing and communication features — is of a political and security nature rather than an ethical and moral one, and its ban is in line with the regime’s crackdown on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

This is not the first time the Iranian regime has resorted to near-comical excuses to justify its censorship of internet services. WhatsApp, the secure messaging app, was banned by Iran in 2014 after being acquired by Facebook, whose owner is Jewish.

With Iran’s next presidential elections looming close, we can expect the regime to resort to more excuses to push constraints on online services and games in order to reduce the chances of another uprising erupting.

These are the traits of a regime that lost its legitimacy years ago, and is paranoid of anything and everything, even mobile games, and vies for total control over every channel of communication.

As they’ve been doing in the past years, tech-savvy Iranians will no doubt find ways to circumvent the ban and continue playing the game, albeit with a little more unease. The regime’s excuse to cut access to the game will only become another subject of mockery on social media platforms.

Amir Basiri is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is an Iranian human rights activist.

Originally posted in Washington Examiner

News from inside Iran & reports on Syria

Numerous protest rallies in Tehran, Ilam

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Retired workers of the Baharestan Steel Co. rallying outside Iran’s parliament

People from all walks of life and different ethnicities staged numerous protest and rallies on Sunday in Tehran and Ilam, western Iran, making their voices heard for their demands.

In Tehran retired workers of the Tehran Baharestan Steel Company rallied outside the regime’s parliament. The protesters demand the privatization of this steel company, their paychecks to be delivered according to schedule and retirement medical care expenses be provided as pledged.

In yet another rally in Tehran more than 250 individuals who have lost money as a result of stock fraud by the regime’s Ministry of Agriculture rallied outside the regime’s parliament.

“We have purchased our land 30 years ago, paid the entire fees and received various pledges in this regard. However, no one is providing us any answers in this regard,” they said in relation to the confiscation of their lands.

Furthermore, another group of individuals who lost money in stocks related to the Padide Company, rallied outside the regime’s judiciary ministry in Tehran demanding their money being returned.

In Ilam a group of people who also suffered losses in stocks due to the negligence reported in the Arman Institute rallied outside the office building making their demands heard.

 

 

Mass execution of 10 inmates in prison west of Tehran

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Mass executions in Iran

The inhumane mullahs’ regime sent 10 inmates to the gallows early Sunday morning in Gohardasht Prison of Karaj, west of Tehran.

State prison authorities had transferred these inmates to solitary confinement on Saturday in preparation for their executions. One of these victims was Abdullah Ghafari.

 

 

Female street vendor in Ahvaz remains under medical care

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State agents attacked an old woman with an electric shocker

The son of a female street vendor in Ahvaz, southwest Iran, who was attacked by state agents using electric shockers on Tuesday, December 6th, says he continues to take his mother to a hospital twice a day.

“On December 6th a group of 10 municipality agents, all armed with electric shockers, entered the Khansari Avenue and amongst the street vendors they attacked my 70-year-old mother who was selling her goods outside my store. They used electric shockers and she fell to the ground. She is still alive but is very ill. She was hospitalized for a few hours after that incident and I am still taking her to a hospital twice a day,” Samir, the woman’s son, said.

Despite the publication of scenes of this incident and attack on social media, and a huge wave of anger against the regime’s officials, the Ahvaz municipality continues to deny the incident.

“No attack on woman has been reported in the municipality. As head of the city council I do not confirm this issue,” the city council chief said.

 

 

Factional disputes amongst regime factions over currency shifts

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Iran changing official currency from rial to toman

The economic changes in Iran, with plans to change the official currency from the rial to toman proposed by the government of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, has faced major opposition from members of the faction loyal to Iranian regime leader Ali Khamenei.

Media outlets linked to this faction have said the bill proposed in the parliament for this measure, at a time when the country’s economy is facing serious problems, is considered one of those unnatural decisions.

“This plan proposed by the government have shocked even the government’s own economic experts. Such a change would be proper for countries that are certain of having below 5% inflation for a long period. Otherwise, 10 years down the road we will have to backtrack these currently proposed changes,” a Khamenei-loyal outlet wrote.

“Even a government organization has issued a warning report in this regard saying changing the rial to the toman, without taking the necessary conditions into consideration, would only render worse economic conditions,” the report added.

 

 

Interior minister: we have 11 million living in city outskirts

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Iranian interior minister Rahmani Fazli

Iranian interior minister Rahmani Fazli expressed the regime’s concern of social damages inflicted to the Iranian population.

“Finally, five priorities have been specified by the leader. Drug addiction, people living in city outskirts, divorces, social corruption and crisis-launching regions, he said in remarks posted by the state-run E’temad daily on Saturday, December 10th.

“For the leader there is nothing more important than social damages,” he added.

“We have 11 million people living in city outskirts and the leader has issued a special order in this regard,” the Iranian interior minister added.

 

 

Two IRGC engineers injured in southeastern Iran

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Explosion rocked a town in southwestern Iran

As reported by the Tasnim news agency, known to be affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Quds Force, at around 6 am on Sunday morning an improvised explosive device detonated in the town Saravan in southeastern Iran, leaving two IRGC engineers wounded.

These individuals were immediately transferred to the Razi Hospital in Saravan. One is reported to be in dire conditions and the Iranian regime had sent a helicopter for his transfer.

 

 

Syria: 40 Iran IRGC members, militias killed in Aleppo

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IRGC armored personnel carrier burning in flames

Members of the Free Syrian Army defeated a horrendous attack launched Sunday morning by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), Shiite militias and Russian troops in eastern Aleppo, Orient TV reported.
On Saturday FSA members were able to defend their positions and kill 25 other Shiite militias were killed in the Marje neighborhood, along with 15 others in the Ezae neighborhood. FSA rebels were also able to destroy two advanced Russian T90 main battle tanks in Ezae and Sanae.
Iran’s IRGC and Assad’s militia forces had attempted for the fourth consecutive day to make advances in Ezae and Sanae, all while enjoying heavy Russian air support. However, to this day they have faced a major defensive counterattack by the FSA rebels.

 

 


Iran MP: Above one million youths in line for Syria dispatching

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Hossein Biki, deputy chair of the Security Commission in Iran’s parliament

Hossein Biki, deputy chair of the Security Commission in Iran’s parliament, made startling and expansionist remarks recently.

“In the status quo we are in youths and even teenagers are more than eager to take part in the fronts of Syria and Iraq,” he said.

“At least more than one million youths are in line to be dispatched,” he said on Saturday, December 10th, in an interview with the state-run Mizan news agency, known to be linked to the regime’s judiciary branch.

“There are a significant number of youths and even teenagers amongst the massive wave of volunteers for Syria and Iraq,” this Iranian MP added.

“The Islamic republic has two missions in Syria and Iraq: advisory activities and training,” he added in contradictory remarks.

 

Crackdown wave in Iran & protests in response

Theater actor sentenced to 99 lashes

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Inhumane lashings as punishment in Iran

The mullahs’ so-called judiciary in Iran has sentenced a young theater actor by the first name of Payam to 99 lashes. This inhumane ruling was upheld yesterday by the Iranian regime’s supreme court.

It is worth noting that following the lashing of Agh Dare mine workers and 35 college students in Ghazvin being sentenced to 99 lashes each by the mullahs’ judiciary, the United Nations issued a statement condemning lashings in Iran as inhumane, cruel, humiliating and in violation of international laws.

 

 

Kurdish woman sets herself ablaze

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Women setting themselves ablaze in protest in Iran

A Kurdish woman in Iran who set herself ablaze lost her life on Tuesday, December 6th due to her severe injuries. She was held in a hospital in Isfahan.

Negin Bidkham was from the village of “Faraj Abad” near the city of Kamiyaran, western Iran. She had set herself ablaze 10 days ago.

Women of all ages committing suicide and setting themselves ablaze is the immediate result of the atrocious crackdown imposed on this sector of society by the mullahs’ regime in Iran.

 

 

 

Intelligence agency demands money from family for a prisoner’s dead body

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Bandar Abbas Prison

Agents of the notorious Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) in Iran are demanding ransom money from the family of Reza Hossein Alizadeh in return for his corpse. Alizadeh lost his life in Bandar Abbas Prison, southern Iran, due to lack medical care.

The physical conditions of this prisoner was very dire, yet MOIS agents prevented his transfer to a hospital until he was finally taken to a hospital on Wednesday, November 16 after suffering a brain stroke. However, according to physicians his transfer was very late and there was nothing more they could do to keep him alive.

This prisoner passed away on December 7th and when his family commuted from Maku (northwest Iran) all the way to Bandar Abbas in southern Iran to retrieve his body, MOIS agents said they must first pay 7 billion rials (around $200,000). The MOIS agents said they will not hand over the body otherwise.

 

 

Political prisoner transferred to Tabriz Prison

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Political prisoner Morteza Moradpour

Political prisoner Morteza Moradpour has been transferred from Gohardasht Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran, to Tabriz Prison in northwest Iran, while 44 days have passed since his hunger strike.

Kept in solitary confinement and under inhumane conditions until his transfer, he informed his brother in a phone call about the pressures imposed on him by regime agents while in solitary confinement.

“Morteza called on Thursday afternoon. This was the first call he made after his transfer to the Karaj prison. It was completely obvious from his voice that he had become severely weak. His blood pressure is usually 8. Morteza said he remains deprived from direct access to drinking water. They rarely provide him hot water. More than anything else he is suffering from lacking blankets and the cold and dry atmohsphere in solitary confinement. Despite the fact that doctors have emphasized on providing him blankets, the authorities have refused to do so. He said he doesn’t know why but the authorities have closed even the smallest openings in his cell. Morteza insists on continuing his hunger strike to have his demands met,” his brother added.

 

 

Conditions of political prisoner on hunger strike deteriorates severely

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Conditions of political prisoner Arash Sadeghi is deteriorating

Political prisoner Arash Sadeghi, on his 45th day no hunger strike, once again began suffering from breathing and heart rate problems. He was transferred to the prison clinic and placed under oxygen.

The clinic resident doctor described his conditions as very concerning.

In the past few weeks Sadeghi has been transferred to the prison clinic many times and each night he has needed to be placed under oxygen. He has lost 18 kilograms of his weight and his blood pressure is very low.

This political prisoner is currently unable to speak and in the past few days he has been vomiting “blood clots,” and transferred to a hospital as a result. However, he was returned to prison without receiving proper medical treatment.

It is worth noting that Arash Sadeghi has been on hunger strike for 45 days protesting inhumane prison conditions and the illegitimate arrest of his wife.

 

 

Residents clash with riot police in Tehran

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Bihaghi complex in Tehran

On Thursday, December 8th the residents of the Bihaghi complex in Tehran fought back a raid staged by Tehran special riot police and municipality agents who were dispatched to force the locals to evacuate the complex.

Clashes broke out as regime agents forced 200 workers to evacuate this complex and be left in the freezing winter cold.

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Protest rallies in Tehran, Mashhad, Neishabour and Sarkhoon

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Rally protesting housing policies of Iranian regime

People from various parts of Iran in the cities of Tehran, Mashhad, Neishabour and Sarkhoon staged protest rallies.

In Tehran, people demanding their homes under the Pardis housing project rallied outside the regime’s Ministry of Road & Construction to voice their protests. They were protesting 7 years of reluctance, delays, embezzlement, money laundering and lies by regime authorities.

In Mashhad, incoming reports indicate a group of people who lost their stock investments rallied outside the regime’s governorate office in Mashhad. They were demanding attention by regime officials to their requests.

A group of people in the town of Sarkhoon, near the town of Ardel in southern Iran, held a rally outside the main oil pipeline and demanded their water pollution problems be resolved.

In Neishabour, northeast Iran, drivers of heavy machinery belonging to the municipality staged a rally protesting their paychecks being delayed for the past 7 months. This rally was held on Wednesday, December 7th.

Furthermore, drivers of private cars in this city also rallied outside the regime’s governorate office protesting not receiving their paychecks for the past few months.

 

 

Human chain in defense of Karoon River in Ahvaz

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Human chain alongside Karoon River

A group of people in Ahvaz rallied in support of Karoon River and against measures of rerouting its waters to Zayandeh River. They formed a human chain to voice their protests on Thursday, December 8th, reports indicate.

It is worth noting that to this day numerous protest rallies have been held, such as forming human chains by Ahvaz locals. However, regime officials have yet to bring an end to their destructive policies in this regard.

 

 

 

Urmia University students chant “Release all political prisoners”

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Urmia University

At a ceremony marking Students Day in Urmia University, northwest Iran, protesting students began chanting slogans demanding the release of all political prisoners.

The students also specifically demanded the release of political prisoner Morteza Moradpour.

“Freedom doesn’t mean that freedom activists must spend their lives behind bars under the most atrocious conditions, including on hunger strike,” they said.

 

Report of acid attack, protests & more from Iran

Young Baluchi targeted in acid attack in southwest Iran

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Acid attack

At 7:55 pm on Monday, December 5th armed state agents in Zahedan, southeast Iran, splashed acid on a 29-year old Baluchi man in southeast Iran, according to incoming reports. The armed agents intended to kill the young man, yet after failing to do so they resorted to such a horrific measure. This injured individual is currently hospitalized.

 

 

Protest rallies in three cities across Iran

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Counter-making factory protest rally

Active and retired workers in the cities of Ghazvin, Bushehr and Ahvaz staged rallies on Wednesday, December 7th.

On Wednesday morning a group of workers of the Alborz counter-making factory in the city of Ghazvin rallied in this city and protested their paychecks being delayed for the past 5 months.

In Bushher a number of protesting workers of the city’s third petrochemical site went on strike for the third consecutive day protesting their delayed paychecks and their insurances not being provided for.

Furthermore, hundreds of retired steel workers in Ahvaz rallied outside the retired workers’ office in the Kianpars district and demanded their pensions of the past two months.

 

 

Water department contract worker sets himself ablaze

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More people setting themselves ablaze in Iran under the mullahs’ regime

A worker of the Hamedan water department in northwest Iran set himself ablaze outside the Bahar social security department, protesting his delayed paychecks.

Last week a deprived street vendor in Shiraz also set himself ablaze protesting severe poverty and the fact that state agents had confiscated his belongings.

 

 

Iran furious over UK stance in Manama session

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Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi

Bahram Ghasemi, spokesman of the Iranian foreign ministry described the remarks made by British Prime Minister Theresa May at the Manama session as “uncalculated and divisive.”

“The goal in such remarks is to intensify the crises resulting from their war crimes against the innocent nations of Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Iraq and other Islamic countries in the region,” he claimed.

May had on Wednesday attended a session of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Manama where she sought to ensure Gulf leaders that she is fully aware of the threats posed by Iran in the Persian Gulf and across the Middle East, adding through their partnership they must stand against Iran’s aggressive measures.

Protests & crackdown measures continue in Iran: latest reports

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Protesting students demand release of jailed students

Universities across the country marked Students Day on December 6th

In Tehran students of Amir Kabir Tech University staged their protest rally despite Bassij paramilitary forces attempting to prevent them. The rally witnessed slogans including, “Release all political prisoners,” “Students do not belong in prison,” “No to administrative corruption,” “Release Nargis Mohammadi,” “Students rather die than succumb to abjection.” In the Sharif Tech University students held a rally and chanted, “Release all political prisoners.”

Students of Science & Industrial University also held a rally, chanting, “Evin Prison accepts students,” “My dear Kianush, we continue your path,” “I hate chains.” They also raised posters written, “Jailed students must be release,” “Duration law must be cancelled.” Students of Teachers Training University raised placards written, “We demand expulsion of elements behind 2009 university crackdown.”

Students of National University forced state TV camera crews out of their session hall and chanted, “State radio & TV are a disgrace,” “State agents out.”

In the city of Yazd, central Iran, students of the law school disrupted a pro-regime session by chanting, “The establishment must be uprooted.”

Students of universities in Mazandaran and Ahvaz staged rallies and raised placards written, “Students don’t belong in prisons,” and “Students are aware and ready.”

Students of Asfarain Tech University turned the stage held for a regime governor to deliver a speech into a scene of protest. “Students rather die than succumb to abjection.”

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Students of Andimeshk University protested a speech delivered by the governor and chanted, “The message of justice: struggle till freedom,” “Release all jailed college students.” These student protests were held across the country at a time when the mullahs’ regime held a ridiculous program dubbed “War of Joy,” attempting to quell student protests. These arrangements were held with hated mullahs and regime officials taking part, all boycotted and hated by the college students.

In Urmia, northwest Iran, only a few of the thousands of college students actually attended the session. Students of Tabriz University raised a placard in their rally written, “December 6 is the day of demanding justice and freedom, not war of joy?!”

In Semnan University, east of Tehran, regime officials attempted to hold a cultural event, only to be boycotted and ridiculed by the students. These students raised pictures of the students killed on December 7, 1953 by the Shah’s regime. These pictures were captioned as, “Today is not a day of dancing, but a day of commemorating killed college students.”

Hundreds of students of Tehran University turned the Student Day ceremony to a scene of protest against the repressive policies of the regime.

This protest move was coincident with the presence of mullah Rouhani at the university auditorium and despite widespread security measures by the agents of suppression organs including the Intelligence Ministry and special guard unit of the university. The students, who were prevented from entering the auditorium, marched across the campus. During the march they sang “Yar-e Dabestani” and chanted:

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“Political prisoner must be freed”, “Student dies but does not accept humiliation”, “Noble students! Support, support”, “Student prisoners must be freed” and “University security should be abolished”.

They also protested against monetary law of university and the law called ‘Sanavat (years)’ enacted in order to extort money from students. They also distributed leaflets saying: “University is not garrison!”, “Prison is not a place for students”, and “why 1988 (massacre)”?

Suppressive measures of Basij forces to disperse students led to confrontation, and the students managed to force Basij forces to escape.

Despite the massive presence of repressive and anti-riot forces inside Tehran University and in front of its entrance gate and streets leading to the university, the student managed to stage their protest gathering. Police cars blocked the university entrance preventing the people to join protesting students.

Students of “Allameh Tabatabi” University in Tehran also chanted “Political prisoner must be freed” and “worker prisoners must be freed” in their protest gathering.

The regime’s intelligence agents called “Harasat” in Azad University of Saveh attacked and assaulted the students to prevent them from entering the campus. The regime’s mercenaries attack turned into a confrontation with students. The students chanted: “University is not garrison” and” Death to dictator”.

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In Tabriz, the students staged a gathering in front of the university despite the widespread presence of intelligence and plainclothes agents of the regime. They chanted, “Our last message to the incompetent regime: the freedom- loving nation is ready to rise up!”

Zahedan university students also chanted in the ceremony held on December 5: “Student dies, but does not accept humiliation” and “political prisoner must be freed”. State officials prevented free entry of the students in order to prevent the formation of student protests.

On the same day, the students of Tehran ‘Tarbiat Modarres” University repeatedly interrupted the speech of Ma’soumeh Ebtekar, head of the Department of Environment of Rouhani, and chanted: “Political prisoner must be freed”. In protest at the catastrophic situation of air pollution in various cities, the students presented oxygen cylinder to Ma’soumeh Ebtekar.

Students of ‘Khajeh Nasir University’ in Tehran wrote on large banners that were installed on the walls of the amphitheater: “University is not a garrison, our university is alive”, “political prisoner must be freed”.

 

 

Iran: Young woman summoned to Intelligence Department

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Civil activist Laila Mir-Ghaffari was summoned to the Intelligence Department in Tehran on December 6, 2016, to be interrogated on her activities.

The young woman had been arrested in a protest rally outside the Evin Prison last year on November 21, 2015, and taken to Varamin’s Qarchak Prison. She was released after a week on November 28, 2015, on a 500 million rial bail bond (equal to around $14,300).

 

Iran: Double-fold increase in the number of homeless women in Tehran

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A member of Tehran’s City Council revealed that there has been a 100% growth in the number of homeless women in Tehran.

Fatemeh Daneshvar said, “Based on the statistics collected by Tehran Municipality’s social services patrols, 1026 women were rounded up in the streets in the period between October 2015 and March 2016. Among them, 544 were homeless women, and 482 were beggars. While in the period from March to September 2016, a total of 1598 women were rounded up including 1038 homeless women, and 560 were beggars. This shows a 100% rise in the number of homeless women which includes women who sleep in cardboard boxes in the streets or those who stay in ‘hangouts’.” (The state-run Tasnim news agency – December 5, 2016)

These official figures should be considered as minimum as there is no accurate method or system of data collection in Iran, while the government deliberately keeps part of these statistics secret in fear of public outrage.

 

 

Internet leads to further unrest, support increasing for MEK: senior mullah

7Mullah Movahedi Kermani, head of the so-called “Enjoining Good and Forbidding Wrong” office in Tehran revealed how the Iranian regime is terrified of social media in Iran and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran gaining further support amongst the youth.

“The internet has led to further unrest and support for the PMOI, and leading to mental deviations,” he said.

“Today, the internet is more important than hijab regulations and even the elections. The elections and hijab are second and third. Unfortunately, we are witnessing traitorous measures by various officials in talking about the internet. Many officials have not made the public aware enough about the internet, saying it has similar pros and cons. This is not the case at all and there are many negative side-effects… Therefore, this needs special attention and we are engulfed with this issue as we speak,” he said as reported by state-run media outlets on Sunday, December 4th.

“Today’s cultural attack has targeted our wives, small children, and even the elderly. For example, if you are a guest at the house of one of your friends or relatives, you will see that everyone is plunged into their mobiles. Have we ever asked ourselves what is going on in these mobile phones and what are the people seeing?” Movahedin Kermani added.

“I received a report from the Assembly of Experts regarding the threats of the internet. I became aware about how the internet can literally uproot religion and Islam altogether. It has enormous power. Mal-veiling is not good, but the internet is a hundred times worse,” he continued.

My Iran report – Dec 5, 2016

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Hossein Mousavian

Mousavian: Iran regime change may return to agenda

Hossein Mousavian is a former Iranian regime ambassador to Germany back in the 1990s and the man providing logistics for the famous Mykonos restaurant killings, former spokesman for the Iranian regime’s nuclear negotiations team in early 2000s, and now an active Iran lobbyists in the United States. He was also very active during the nuclear talks between the international community and Iran. Continue reading “My Iran report – Dec 5, 2016”

Reports of increasing protests in Iran

Iran: political prisoners condemn jailing of Montazeri’s son

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Gohardasht Prison of Karaj, west of Tehran

A group of political prisoners in Gohardasht Prison issued a statement condemning the 21-year jail sentence issued for Ahmad Montazeri, son of the late Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri. Continue reading “Reports of increasing protests in Iran”