Iranian Grand Ayatollah Issues Fatwa Against 'Immoral' High-Speed Internet Connections

from the Age-of-Enlightenment-still-several-hundred-years-away,-apparently dept

Iran continues to battle the Internet, recognizing the fact that an unfiltered exchange of ideas (some of them admittedly often horrifically bad) tends to undermine repressive regimes. While the President and the Minister of Communications have stressed that higher-speed connections (and less censorship) are useful to Iran’s citizens, many others in the government feel that increasing speeds means giving up lots and lots of control. (via @visions_studios)

[C]onservative, religious, and security organizations and officials fear the loss of control that a faster Internet will bring, and as such resist the administration’s efforts to provide the faster services.

These government officials would prefer the President push everyone onto Iran’s version of the Internet: the National Information Network. Whenever it’s finally fully implemented, it will function like a countrywide Intranet, giving government control over access as well as opening users up to significant amounts of surveillance.

Since President Rouhani seems reluctant to throttle the nation’s internet users, others have pressed forward on the issue. Cue the Grand Ayatollah of Iran, who has arbitrarily determined that high-speed connections are an affront to [this particular] God.

A Grand Ayatollah in Iran has determined that access to high-speed and 3G Internet is “against Sharia” and “against moral standards.” In answer to a question published on his website, Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, one of the country’s highest clerical authorities, issued a fatwa, stating “All third generation [3G] and high-speed internet services, prior to realization of the required conditions for the National Information Network [Iran’s government-controlled and censored Internet which is under development], is against Sharia [and] against moral and human standards.”

Left undiscussed is how incremental increases in speed are incremental increases in sin or how exactly an Iran-only internet would redeem “immoral” high-speed connections. These sorts of questions are better left unasked, especially in a nation filled with religious leaders that can impose and carry out death penalties with impunity.

The bottom line is that a clunky internet is a mostly-useless internet, even for non-subversive reasons like seeking jobs or performing research. Shirazi’s declaration is mostly noise-making, but it does serve a purpose — to give the conservatives pushing for the Iranternet more ammo to use against political opponents. Nothing brings the froth to the surface faster than blending politics and religion, especially when the subject matter is the world wide web.

The former Minister of Communications had this to say in support of strangling the web.

“If the Ministry of Communications does not pay attention to the sensitivities of the people and the ulama [high-ranking clerics], [the Ministry] will have no choice but to prepare itself for significant developments at the Parliament and in society.”

Note that the “sensitivities of the people” are somehow exactly the same as the “sensitivities of high-ranking clerics,” even when the people are actively seeking better connection speed.

Mahmoud Khosravi, Chairman of the Board and Managing Director of the Ertebatat-e Zirsakht (Communications Infrastructure) Company, stated recently that three million new requests for high-speed Internet services had been filed.

Iran’s citizens want one thing. Parts of the government want another. And religious leaders just want control of both the people and the government. In between lies the internet. “Knowledge is power” as they say, and the internet contains a wealth of it. And Iran’s power structure — the part of it that relies on stupidity like “2G good, 3G bad” fatwas — would like this threat neutralized, and it’s willing to further harm the future of the nation to do it.

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Comments on “Iranian Grand Ayatollah Issues Fatwa Against 'Immoral' High-Speed Internet Connections”

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DannyB (profile) says:

Comcast and Time Warner -- the Moral ISPs !

For the benefit of your immortal soul you must convert to using Comcast or Time Warner internet service for moral reasons.

With both Comcast and Time Warner, you can be assured that our internet service will never reach high enough speeds to be considered immoral or in violation of Sharia law.

And not only that, but there’s more! With the merger of Comcast and Time Warner, our internet service will get even more moral! So please support the merger! In the name of morality*.

* and corporate profits, which are also a god and form the basis for some people’s morals

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Comcast and Time Warner -- the Moral ISPs !

Dear PRMan,

We apologize for this error. There was a system problem that caused your connection to be configured incorrectly. When you indicated that there was a problem, we discovered your comment via our deep-packet inspection. Thank you for notifying us of this issue, our engineers have found the problem and we will now have your connection speeds at the correct level.

Unfortunately, since you were receiving speeds in-excess of your contractual speeds, we will need to bill you for the additional bandwidth you have stolen.

This adjustment will be reflected on your upcoming bill.

Thank you.

– Time Warner Cable

DogBreath says:

Someone wants a slower speed? Finally! I'm going to be rich!

I’ll make millions, as soon as I dig out all those AOL dial-up CDs I have packed away! Just need to sort them by the langauges spoken in Iran: Persian, Azeri, Kurdish, Lurish, Gilaki, Mazandarani, Turkmen, Arabic, Baloch, Georgian, Armenian, Neo-Aramaic and I’ll be on my way to RichTown!

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

OK, this is a bit worrisome if you’re familiar with local history.

For those who aren’t, bear this in mind: the last time the guy in charge in Iran tried to make the place more civilized and improve the standard of living for everyone, and then started to be successful at it even though the ayatollahs didn’t like what he was doing, he wasn’t called “President;” he was called “Shah.” And we all know how that ended: a violent revolution that cast the entire country into decades of barbarism that it’s just now beginning to emerge from again.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

They actually had a glimpse of sanity in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s but that set the democratisation a decade or two back since the ayathollahs didn’t like women driving and other western non-sense. the election following has had personal screenings of the candidates to avoid the morally corrupt in the eyes of the ayatollahs. Guess Rouhani

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Oh, there’s no doubt that the guy had plenty of personal flaws, and the Ayatollahs didn’t have to look too hard to come up with propaganda to incite people against him. But what he was doing for his country and his people was definitely, unequivocally good!

My mom and her family lived there for a while during that time (her father was an engineer doing contract work in Iran) and she says they knew they were outsiders, but no one really cared. It was a place where an American Christian family could live in safety and peace, the women as well as the men. And it wasn’t just being deferential to foreigners; Iranian women have never had it so good, either before or since.

So yeah, seeing this now… it’s a bit worrisome.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

My mom and her family lived there for a while during that time (her father was an engineer doing contract work in Iran) and she says they knew they were outsiders, but no one really cared. It was a place where an American Christian family could live in safety and peace, the women as well as the men. And it wasn’t just being deferential to foreigners; Iranian women have never had it so good, either before or since.

Pretty much the entire middle east is going backwards, not forwards.

Pjerky (profile) says:

Free Internet To The Blugeoned Masses

So here is a thought: what if a company, lets say Google for a quick logical leap here, decided to “help” Iran and it’s people by using one or more of their experimental technologies to offer free internet access to everyone in Iran.

This technology would be wireless and be operated completely outside of the borders of repressive regimes and those that support them. Then gave them an easy way to access it within the country (preferably within all repressive regimes, North Korea **cough** **cough**).

Access to this would be complete free (maybe some insanely awesome WiFi extending tech or something easy to propagate to everyone within the borders. And said company would air-drop millions or billions of pamphlets to the citizens of these countries (maybe even including the tech needed to connect) that tell them how to connect and places to start going to find what they want (say

Then the people would finally have access to the information that the rest of the world does. The company playing ISP could benefit from even more ad revenue. And the regime will see their power slip away.

Does anyone else want to join my thought experiment here?

Anonymous Coward says:

I know that Iranians are using under-the-radar VPN servers. Iran has officially made VPN illegal, but some are using my server, which is under the radar.

I run OpenVPN on non-standard ports, using SoftEther. I will list myself on the long enough for people to get the most current config file, then exist the list. People can still connect, even when the VPNGate listing is turned off becuase of the way the server is configured.

Since I am using non-standard ports, their connections to my VPN cannot be detected.

This is why any law in America to ban VPNs will never work. Someone will use an under-the-rader VPN somewhere.

Since my servers are in the USA, I am NOT SUBJECT to Iranian laws, even if Iranian citizens are accessing my VPN. In other words, I am NOT SUBJECT to prosecution in Iran, because the servers that host my VPN are in the United States, making them ONLY subject to AMERICAN laws.

Matt Norris (profile) says:

It should be noted that the U.S. internet is the same

To be blunt, with the way “targeted advertising” work in that information you receive is 100% based on what your device or computer knows about you, you may want to consider the fact that when you have the NSA playing the role of “Network Administrator” in the U.S. by nature of the fact that they spliced the main fiber cable that carry all internet traffic in the U.S.?

Functionally speaking, you are getting the same thing. You are getting much more liberal access to the same thing, but you are getting the same thing.

You may also want to consider the fact that Iran just got done dealing with a computer virus that managed to worm its way through their nuclear facilities and then leak out to the rest of the PLANET. I mean ALL of it.

If you’ve been paying attention for the last 15 years, you will also notice that U.S. private citizens, the military, nuclear facilities, military hardware development facilities and basically everything else that has a network connection has been hacked from overseas and within.

I’m pretty sure Iran is happy to deploy a nationwide “intranet”, but what isn’t being said here is that every single other nation on the planet is basically pursuing the same thing.

Matt Norris (profile) says:

Re: It should be noted that the U.S. internet is the same

I should also point out that the FCC and a host of wireless and wired ISPs in the U.S. had a “fatwa” against fast internet forever and for reasons that varied from insufficient open radio frequencies to the fact that infrastructure that is as important as the interstate highway system was having to be built entirely without the assistance of a specified federal/state/county/municipal income or sales tax.

Flatly, it’s like watching the religious version of the “spectrum crunch”, complete with citizens and government complaining about crappy service and a name like “FCC” or “Verizon” or “Comcast” being replaced by “Grand Ayatollah”.

Obviously I’m ignoring the human rights complaints constantly lodged against Iranian religious and government leaders, but then again I have to ignore one problem or another with the U.S. government on a daily basis no matter how hard we try to change it with a vote.

Some things just take time.

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