Iran's President Comes Out Against His Country's Ban On Telegram

from the okay-then dept

We had just been talking about how Russia and Iran appeared to be taking similar, if not coordinated, actions to block the secure messaging app Telegram from their respective countries. While both countries couched the removal of this useful tool from its own people in the usual concerns over terrorism and national security, it was clear from the beginning that in both cases the concern was much more about dissent against the government rather than any actual violence. After all, with Telegram refusing to give away its encryption keys to these governments, the obvious interest by these countries is to be able to spy on the communications of their peoples.

The reaction to these bans has, unfortunately, largely been of the shrugging variety. The reputations of Russia and Iran in America being what they are, some of it undeserved, many simply waved this away as authoritarian regimes doing what authoritarian regimes do. With perhaps a dash of Islamophobia mixed in when it comes to Iran, care for the impact on the people there appears to have gone out the window, too. After all, the Supreme Leader chose to block the app, so what is anyone to do?

Well, it seems that, counter to the misconceptions many might have about the way Iran works, President Hassan Rouhani has come out criticizing the block on the app, saying both that he had nothing to do with it and that he disagrees with the move.

In a post on Instagram, Rouhani clarified on Friday that the blocking of Telegram was not imposed by his government and that he did not approve of it.

“If a decision has been made to restrict or block the communication of the people, the real owners of this country, which are the people, should be included in making such decisions,” Rouhani said. The statement also said that the blockage was “opposite to democracy”.

Cynics and hardliners might wave this away as either a show by Rouhani, or simply of no consequence as it’s the Surpreme Leader that holds the real control over the country. And the former might possibly be correct, but I doubt it. Rouhani, whatever else you might say about him, is indeed more liberal than the very conservative religious rulers in the country. He is also tasked with duties that are more to do with the public in Iran, whereas the Surpreme Leader is a religious figure first and politician second, interacting far more with the religious leaders in the country than people and politicians. It would not be a surprise for Rouhani’s objection for this to be very, very real.

And perhaps more practical than ideological, too. Rouhani had a front row seat to the Arab Spring that occurred in recent years in several countries in Persian and Arab nations. He saw first hand what happened when governments attempted to stave off dissent by clamping down on internet communication tools in this sort of heavy-handed way. I imagine he probably doesn’t want his own country to repeat these mistakes.

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Comments on “Iran's President Comes Out Against His Country's Ban On Telegram”

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26 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

I've come out against the censoring here!

Why, then, do I get reviled here for advocating free speech (within limits of common law and common decency, which I always am), when you’re admiring Iran’s poobah for permitting Telegraph to be used by CIA to overthrow the regime?

[I’m sure it’s “conspiracy theory” here that CIA has any plots going, or ever. It’s a difficult windmill to tilt at here, kinda like one at local Golf-a-holics that
spins real fast.]

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I've come out against the censoring here!

You forgot to say "SHEESH!"

Anyway, you got a few things wrong. For one thing, a Grand Poobah by traditional definition must wear a big ostentatious hat of some kind. In Iran, that would be Ayatollah Khamenei, not President Rouhani, whose head covering is considerably smaller.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: I've come out against the censoring here!

In Iran, that would be Ayatollah Khamenei, not President Rouhani, whose head covering is considerably smaller.

As is his power. Although I suspect he wears the headgear and other garb as a ploy to allay suspicion. Ahmedinahjab, who was actually much more an Islamic extremist, wore a suit.

Unfortunately we’ve been here before.
An earlier president (Rafsanjani https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akbar_Hashemi_Rafsanjani)
was similar to – if not more liberal than – Rouhani.

Unfortunately he was judged too liberal to even stand for president more recently. However he was quite close to Rouhani.

Rouhani, like Rafsanji before him, has limited freedom of action. Most recently he has actually been playing a smart game in keeping just the right side of Khamenei.

I would jusge that he would view Telegram as a positive to his own political position.

After all Rafsanjani is on record as saying:

" We should let our media write within the framework of the law and we should not impose restrictions on them. … We should let our media even criticize us. Our security forces, our police and other organs have to guarantee such a climate for criticism"

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: I've come out against the censoring here!

Although those of us who have been around a while will be aware that the report button has suffered from some mission creep. It was originally intended only for genuine spam.

I actually find it annoying when a comment is hidden – but still followed by multiple rebuttals.

AS a rule I would say that if you are going to reply to something then don’t report it. If someone else has already put up a reply then don’t report it either – unless the reply itself is also worthy of being reported

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Why is Islamaphobia even mentioned?
Good point.
Seriously you should know better than to use that word for two reasons.

1) It is offensive to genuine phobia sufferers to use their condition as a term of abuse in this way.

2) It is a word used for shutting down debate by conflating any rational criticism of the ideology of Islam (or the historical/current practices of Islamic regimes) with racist bigotry.

PartTimeZombie (profile) says:

Re: Iran is going to cease to exist

Awesome. Thanks for that A/C.
That’s a view that’s worked really well for American interests in Iran hasn’t it?
You should read some history, particularly the bit where the CIA overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran in 1953 and forced the people of Iran to live under the vicious Pahlavi regime for the next 26 years.
Or are you advocating the murder of 81 million people because you don’t like them?

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Iran is going to cease to exist

Yes the CIA fucked up. Yes it created a mess. But no one here elected those fuck ups. Yes those who ‘theoretically’ authorized those fuck ups were elected, but they didn’t actually tell us that they were about to fuck up yet another country, or that they had already fucked up some others up and were about to fuck up a few more.

So, while we might have some blame in the game, so to speak, the situation in Iran is not entirely our fault. It has been exacerbated by an extreme regime that came into being by replacing an extreme regime that was implemented by some dunderheads that thought they might…well what do we know what they thought about, or more properly didn’t think about, when they went in and fucked up another country?

The solution, very, very simplified, is for Iran to become less extreme. Us too!

I know some very nice Iranian people. Some are Muslim, some are Christian. None of them are extreme. But when you have a party, they don’t bring coolers with beer. They bring coolers with Stoli! 🙂

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Iran is going to cease to exist

Yes the CIA fucked up. Yes it created a mess.

If you think the US in particular, or the West in general (Britain and France were heavily involved between WW1 and the mid 50’s) are really responsible for the mess in the middle east you don’t know enough history. The root causes go back about 1400 years.

There was no course of action that Britain, France or the US could have taken that would have avoided a situation very much like what we see today.

The real problem is that once the Nazis and the cold war were out of the way it was inevitable that older conflicts would resurface.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Iran is going to cease to exist

I was referring specifically to the Sunni/Shia split – which started more or less the moment the Mohammed died and has continued ever since.
This split is responsible for a large proportion of the troubles in the middle east. Historically it has only been contained by brutal dictatorships – such as the Ottoman Caliphs/Sultans and more recently the likes of Assad (senior) and Saddam Hussein.

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