Monday, November 08, 2004

Iran Jails Journalists and Closes Down Websites

According to a report in the New York Times, (Nov. 8) by Nazila Fathi, Iran has arrested 2 journalists this week and has increased its clampdown on web sites and their authors. Mahboubeh Abbas-Gholizadeh, an advocate of women’s rights and editor of Farzaneh, was arrested on Nov. 1 after returning from the European Social Forum in London. Fereshteh Ghazi, a journalist on the daily newspaper Etemad, and also a writer on women’s affairs, was also arrested.

A number of authors of web sites have been arrested and laws on cybercrime are being prepared. According to the Times report “the move to block Web sites has the support of a senior cleric, Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, who declared in September ….that Web sites should be blocked if they "insult sacred concepts of Islam, the Prophet and Imams," or "publish harmful and deviated beliefs to promote atheism or promote sinister books."

Iran has an estimated 4.8 million Internet users and over 100,000 web sites.