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New Iranian Monitoring may Contribute to Religious Repression

The ministry also claimed that some unnamed companies had accepted this proposition, although the Iranian regime is known for exaggerating foreign interest in doing business within the country.

Meanwhile, the National Council of Resistance of Iran reports that the Iranian regime has actually increased its restrictions on the use of information technology, by installing new software to be used in monitoring Facebook and other social media for posts that are deemed to be immoral or insulting to Islamic principles.

Prominent social media sites are technically banned throughout Iran, but many citizens circumvent these restrictions. Thereafter, they are subject to monitoring that has resulting in a series of harsh sentences for violations of vague religious laws such as “insulting the Prophet” and “enmity against God.”

The NCRI highlighted several recent examples of this in its report, including the case of the Sattar Beheshti, who was killed after being taken into custody for posts made on social media.

In addition to being used to build cases against individuals, social media is used by the Iranian regime to anticipate and obstruct activist gatherings. Many such demonstrations are subject to attacks by security forces. Most recently, according to IranWire, those forces used violence to break up a peaceful gathering of about 1,000 followers of the new religious movement known as Interuniversalism, who had gathered in support of the movement’s founder, who is accused of “spreading corruption on the Earth.”

IranWire adds that 16 followers of the movement were given prison sentences on February 5 as part of an ongoing crackdown on this and other religions that are criminalized by the Islamic Republic. In light of expanded monitoring of information technology, expressions of faith by followers of these religions may make them more likely than ever to be the target of prosecution.

And in some cases, that prosecution may lead to arbitrary death sentences, as is the case with six Sunni Muslims who were facing imminent execution as of Tuesday, according to another NCRI report. The Iranian resistance called upon international human rights groups to help prevent the executions, and it criticized a “shameful policy of appeasement” by the US and EU for ignoring a growing rate of executions in the country since the election of President Hassan Rouhani.


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