Iran ayatollahs put fatwa on 3G
- Published: 22/02/2013 at 12:21 PM
- Online news:
The Iranian company Rightel has opened 3G service in the country, and four of the nation's grand ayatollahs have opened a fatwa against 3G and Rightel.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad uses G0 phone technology, but on the streets, most news is generated by citizens with phones and video cameras.
The four men, all known inside Iran as hard-line Shiite Muslims, insist that the 3G service means that Rightel should not exist.
"The decadence and corruption associated with [3G's] use outweighs its benefits," declared the four in a statement issued in Iran on Wednesday.
Fatwa originate from religious leaders, but have no legal standing. They may sway public opinion or influence lawmakers.
Supporters of the four anti-3G ayatollahs set up a website attacking Rightel right after the four men issued their fatwa.
A slick advertising campaign inluding use of Facebook has created a fast-growing 3G customer base for Rightel.
The "Rightel Mirage" site compared 3G with drugs, claiming that the phone network is ``providing everyone with opium and then advising them to use it wisely."
Two weeks ago, a petition in the holy city of Qom condemned Rightel for bringing 3G service to Iran, claiming it would "facilitate access to sin and decadence." The petition called on right-thinking Iranians to "counter widespread infiltration of enemy culture."
Earlier this week, 17 MPs wrote a letter to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, demanding that he and the intelligence ministry shut down Rightel and 3G.
The ayatollahs and other opponents of 3G have tried to shape their hard-line demands for Islam. In fact, however, the greatest fear about 3G is that users can take, share and transmit videos of political events.
"The truth is that if Iranians can access a portable way to shoot video in a protest, the world will be able to see what is going on as it happens," said an Iranian quote by the website Iranian.com, which often carries anti-regime articles.
As for Rightel, which holds exclusive right to market 3G phones in Iran, it has run a slick advertising campaign including on Facebook, and sparked a major rush to join, particularly by young Iranians.
The firm's website sells 3G packages directly, although citizens must provide details of their national ID cards. Many plans are available including advance payment, contracts and packages of data cards.
"I am studying in Teheran and it is a great way to keep in touch with my mum in Shiraz," said a testimonial on the website by a young Iranian. "It will be like I am home for her."