Stories from Quick Reads and Iran
London based Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad won the 2015 Women's Rights Award at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy for her Facebook page “My Stealthy Freedom” this past week. The page invites Iranian women to post pictures of themselves without a Hijab, in defiance of Iran's Islamic laws that enforce compulsory hijab. With over 750, 000 followers, this page has been considered something of social media movement for Iranian women.
Below is a video from her acceptance speech at the Summit:
Iranian judiciary has set a one-month deadline for Hassan Rohani's government to block or to control messaging applications Viber, WhatsApp and TangoMe.
— Sobhan Hassanvand (@Hassanvand) September 20, 2014
Iranian President Hassan Rohani said in a speech on September 1 that the Internet is vital and Iran “cannot close the gates of the world for the younger generation.”
The next day, two Grand Ayatollahs defended high-speed Internet a few days after another Grand Ayatollah warned about it.
IMPORTANT #Iran president Rouhani made a new speech defending internet & new technology with emphasis on youth – challenging conservatives.
— Negar Mortazavi (@NegarMortazavi) September 2, 2014
Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, a prominent Shia scholar, has said 3G Internet is immoral and inhumane, Iranian sites reported on Tuesday.
— Omid Memarian (@Omid_M) August 25, 2014
Iran has the highest number of internet users in the Middle East, but its average data speed is about a tenth of the global average.Internet speeds in Iran have accelerated by 30 percent since summer 2013, after Hassan Rohani won the presidential election.
Soheil Arabi was sentenced to death for insulting the Prophet Mohammad on the Facebook.The Revolutionary Guards arrested Soheil Arabi on November 2013. Iranian Twitter user Velgard tweeted below about this, explaining that Arabi is only a 30 year old Iranian who is not a political activist, but merely “one of us.” Several bloggers and Facebook users were arrested in last twelve months.
— ولگرد (@_velGard) November 26, 2014
Iranians held several protest rallies in different cities including Tehran,Tabriz and Mehabad to support Kobane‘s people on Tuesday.Fighting continues to rage in the Syria-Turkey border town of Kobane
— Negar Mortazavi (@NegarMortazavi) October 7, 2014
Iran held the first annual Persian ICT week conference in Tehran's Ijlas center between August 30-31, 2014. The two day conference was a cooperative effort between Iran's ICT Guild Organization and the Arab ICT Organization. The theme of the conference was entitled, “Internet for Economic Growth,” and panels were held over the two days discussing youth using social media, the ICT industry post-sanctions in Iran, and the role of government in Internet development.
Many users followed the event on both Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #PersianICTWeek in English, and #هفته_فناوری_اطلاعات_و_ارتباطات_پارسیزبانان in Persian. Government representatives from many countries including Malaysia, Qatar and Lebanon were present at the event.
In a meeting that followed the event, Iran's Minister of ICT Mahmoud Vaezi and his Qatari counterpart Khatem Hesam Jabar, met to discuss cooperation between the two governments in developing both nation's ICT industry. According to Iran's semi-official Fars news agency, the minister wished to share with Qatar the merits of Iran's new national information network, a project that endeavours to create a countrywide network of websites assigned to domestic IP addresses, separate from the worldwide web. Many Iranian figures have suggested this will aid in the development of domestic ICT infrastructure and economy. Vaezi stated achievements were made in electronic banking, cyber security and information technology, and explained the network was one of the best ways forward in the new youth dominated Internet culture.
A large portion of the conference was focused on how Iranian youth were engaging in entrepreneurship within Iran's ICT sector, and the government's support of knowledge based industries amongst this new generation. This event preceded President Hassan Rouhani's September 1 televised speech, declaring the importance of the Internet for Iran's youth.
What better than the seventh art to mobilize? In another effort to push for Elections in Lebanon and prevent an extension of the Parliamentary term #NoToExtension, Lebanese NGO Nahwa Al Muwatiniya (meaning Towards Citizenship) held an “Election Film Week”.
Six works from Chile, Iran, China, Ghana and the US, varying between documentaries and fiction are being screened between August 28 to September 2 at Cinema Metropolis (a theater promoting indie movies) in collaboration with the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE).
On the Facebook Page of the event, where the programme is listed, the organisers note:
We have been struggling with a fragile democracy in Lebanon, ever since its independence. Today, more than in the darkest days of the civil war, the foundations of our democracy are at risk. But we’re not alone in this. The world is full of stories about the human struggle for self-determination and democratic participation. Broadening our perspective serves our effort to improve the quality of the political system in Lebanon.
The films we picked share stories from different countries, all which portray the election process. Collectively, they reveal a combination of human values and ideals and the efforts politicians make to win an election.
To see a glimpse of the movies, check out the trailer posted on Nahwa Al Muwatiniya Youtube Page.
The current parliament extended its four-year stay for the first time in May 2013. And like a year before, various parties are supporting the move this time around under the pretext of security conditions.
The end of the parliamentary term comes amidst a period of turmoil in Lebanon. The country has lacked a president since May 25 after parliament failed to elect a new head of state and top officials could not reach political consensus. A general strike by syndicates demanding to approve a new enhanced wage scale for civil servants has threatened to paralyze the entire country. Lebanon has experience instability on both Syrian and Israeli borders after soldiers were kidnapped by members of Islamic militant organization ISIS.
Cyber police interrogator Akbar Taghizadeh has been sentenced to three years in prison, two years in exile, and 74 lashes for the murder of dissident blogger Sattar Beheshti, who died under torture while in police detention in November 2012. “On Wednesday afternoon, August 6, news of the sentence was delivered to us by mail. But we do not accept it. It is dastardly and unfair,” said Gohar Eshghi, Beheshti's mother, in an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Many Twitter users, following the story under the #SattahBeheshti hashtag, expressed similar disapproval for the sentencing.