by Michael Orfanos
Within the past few months, a wide number of news reporters and news agencies around the world have underlined the importance of free internet access, satellite news and social media, in shaping the world politics in the wider Mediterranean area (meaning Northern Africa and Middle East)-the so called: "Arab Spring" that swept through a number of countries and brought down authoritarian regimes and replaced them with democratic governments. For decades the people of those countries were governed by authoritarian regimes and were denied their rights, however technology was able to overcome the state barriers and reach the people.
In mid 2009, foreign press reporters made a significant revelation: that people in Egypt (primarily) Libya, Yemen and other countries, were using satellite dishes in order to be informed by foreign news channels-thus bypassing the local propaganda from the state owned channels- and they were using free internet access and Social Media in order to communicate with each other and organize into demonstrator groups. For example, a member of the central committee of the demonstrators in Egypt had more than 90.000 followers in his Twitter account. Since then, most authoritarian regimes in the above described area have collapsed and are in the process of implementing democratic reforms. However, Iran is persistently trying to oppose this democratization wave-better known as "Arab Spring". More specifically, the Iranian government is constantly jamming satellite frequencies of all Western channels and bans access to Internet and Social Media sites.It is estimated that around 50-65% of the Iranian people are watching satellite TV. Instead of using the state media agencies in order to get informed, Iranians prefer using BBC, Voice of America and other similar Western channels. Accordingly, the number of Iranians using Internet and Social Media is estimated around 20-23%.
What is ironic is the fact that at the same time, the Iranian government is using international airwaves in order to operate freely on an international level and broadcast state propaganda to Iranians living abroad: "Iran is having it both ways" says a US State Department official. "It is basically a win /win situation for Iran. They are propagandizing on an International level while at the same time they are jamming all foreign satellites, banning all Western news agencies sites and Social Media".
Some human rights activists call for reciprocal banning of the Iranian state governed news agencies operating worldwide: Shirin Edabi an Iranian lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize winner agrees "...until the Iranian government learns to respect freedom of expression and freedom of free information". The EU also called on Tehran to "lift restrictions on communications, including internet censorship and put an immediate end to jamming of satellite broadcasting".Iran was also referred to Jeebboo (www.jeebboo.com) latest quiz questions: More specifically the question was "Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is President in which of the following countries: A. Iraq B. Iran or C. Saudi Arabia". Popular internet quiz games are also considered a threat by the Iranian regime thus are banned.