Sunday, Jan. 11th 2009

What Really Scares the IRGC?

The IRGC is so concerned about the danger posed by the free exchange of information available on the internet and via text messaging, that it seeks to dominate Iranian net-thought with a force of 10,000 bloggers. Blogger Hamid Tehrani has posted an interesting and well written post in the Internet & Democracy blog.

Tehrani describes the effort:

IRGC’s official press organ, Sobh Sadegh, writes that it considered the Internet and other digital devices including SMS as a threat to be controlled. It announced that the 10,000 blogs will promote revolutionary ideas. IRGC considers the Internet as an instrument for a “velvet revolution” and warned that foreign countries have invested in this tool to topple the Islamic Regime.

As Tehrani notes, the Iranian government (i.e. the IRGC, as the Supreme Leader’s tool) already controls all “old media” – newspapers, radio, and television. But the internet, filled with blogs by anonymous Iranians presents a real threat. For that reason, the IRGC seeks to have the Basij raise a force of 10,000 bloggers.

Analysis: Iran’s clerics and the IRGC know that Iranians are thirsty for objective news and information. The lesson from Iraq is not lost on Iran’s rulers. Iraq’s people, as soon as they were unshackled from Saddam Hussein’s restrictions, purchased satellite dishes and cell phones by the ton. Internet cafes sprang up in many neighborhoods. Once a repressed people have experienced unrestricted access to information, they are loathe to return to big brother’s (or Supreme Leader’s) version of the news.

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