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5/29/03 - IRAN’S REGIME TARGETS INTERNET - 2003-05-29

Iran’s Islamic fundamentalist regime has imposed new restrictions on Internet use. Post and Telecommunications Minister Ahmad Motamedi told a newspaper that the regime had blocked one-hundred web sites accused of insulting “the beliefs of different religions.”

However, the Iranian government’s restrictions on Internet access go well beyond this claim of preventing provocative attacks on religious groups. An Iranian student news agency quoted an Internet service provider as saying that the ministry had drawn up a list of fifteen-thousand web sites to be blocked. While many of these web sites contain pornographic material, others are politically oriented and have close links to Iranian reformists.

Reflecting the Iranian government’s fear of the free flow of information, the web sites of the Voice of America’s Persian service and the U.S. government-sponsored Radio Farda are reportedly included on this blacklist. The Iranian regime has also jammed international broadcasts and closed Iranian newspapers that government officials found objectionable. These repressive tactics of the radical Islamic clerics have been preventing Iran from progressing politically and economically for twenty years.

Such practices explain why Iran’s theocratic regime has become increasingly unpopular and why the Iranian people are demanding fundamental political change -- including the right to freedom of expression and free access to information and ideas.

As President George W. Bush has made clear, the U.S. continues “to stand with the people of Iran in [their] quest for freedom, prosperity, honest and effective government, judicial due process, and the rule of law. And we continue to call on the government of Iran to respect the will of [the] people and be accountable to them.”