Iranian police have set up a special unit to monitor Web sites and fight Internet crimes, in a possible attack on the opposition, which relies on that medium to broadcast its message, local newspapers have reported.
Police Colonel Mehrdad Omidi, who heads the Internet crime unit, said the unit will fight “insults and the spreading of lies”, terms widely used by the judiciary to describe opposition activities.
“Given the spread of Internet use, police must confront crimes taking place in the Web atmosphere,” he said. “A special committee has been set up to monitor the Internet and deal with crimes … such as fraud, … insults and the spreading of lies.”
Col Omidi specifically said the 12-member committee will intervene in “political matters on the Internet should there be an illegal act”.
The official said the unit will operate under the direction of the prosecution office.
Stories like this make stories like this less of a surprise:
The showdown between Iran’s clerical leaders and a resilient protest movement sharpened Saturday, as opposition leaders accused the government of becoming more brutal than the shah’s regime and authorities announced a new Internet crackdown.
Two of Iran’s top pro-reform figures said in a Web statement that police used excessive force against anti-government protesters who took to the streets last week on the sidelines of state-sanctioned rallies to mark the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Embassy takeover.
Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi, who lead the protest movement rejecting the legitimacy of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s June re-election, said authorities wielding batons even struck women on their heads. They called such treatment an ugly act that was not even seen during Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s response to the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled him.
“I can’t understand why they should treat people like this,” Karroubi was quoted as saying by several opposition Web sites. “… I struggled against the Pahlavi regime for 15 years … but there were no such crackdowns.”
Such Web statements have been the mainstay of an opposition movement struggling to stay alive despite being brutally swept off the streets in the weeks after the June 12 election. Mousavi and his supporters contend that he was the rightful winner of the vote, but that Ahmadinejad was fraudulently declared the winner.
It really does say a lot that former revolutionaries who helped bring about the Islamic regime in Iran are now saying that the regime is worse than that of the Shah’s. It’s like Lenin pining for the return of the Romanovs.