Iran Election Guide

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Iran Flashback: The Supreme Leader Joins August 2009

Supreme Leader on Facebook, August 2009Ayatollah Ali Khamenei apparently has signed up for his own page, complete with appropriately artistic photograph. Don't know if he has poked anyone yet or posted a status update, such as "Wishing Mahmoud Would Get His Cabinet in Order", but he does have 20 friends.

11 August 2009, 1735 GMTMir Hossein Mousavi is not yet a friend of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Are you?

1810 GMT: Ayatollah Khamenei reportedly displeased that he shares his Facebook page with ads for "Prostate Treatment" and "Betfair Arcade".

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Syria Feature: Tales from the Cyber-War (Faris)

A CNN report from November 2011 on Syrian cyber-warfare

Much has been written about the rebellion in Syria: the protests, the massacres, the car bombs, the house-to-house fighting. Tens of thousands have been killed since the war began in early 2011. But the struggle for the future of the country has also unfolded in another arena—on a battleground of Facebook pages and YouTube accounts, of hacks and counterhacks. Just as rival armies vie for air superiority, the two sides of the Syrian civil war have spent much of the last year and a half locked in a struggle to dominate the Internet. Pro-government hackers have penetrated opposition websites and broken into the computers of Reuters and Al Jazeera to spread disinformation. On the other side, the hacktivist group Anonymous has infiltrated at least 12 Syrian government websites, including that of the Ministry of Defense, and released millions of stolen e-mails.

The Syrian conflict illustrates the extent to which the very tools that rebels in the Middle East have employed to organize and sustain their movements are now being used against them. It provides a glimpse of the future of warfare, in which computer viruses and hacking techniques can be as critical to weakening the enemy as bombs and bullets.

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Iran Feature: Facebook and the Earthquakes (Kaviani)

Back in 2009, at the height of mass protests that followed Iran's disputed presidential election, Facebook emerged as an important tool for protesters to share news and information. It had such an impact that the authorities even branded Facebook a weapon in a "soft war" against the Islamic republic. 

As a result, users in Iran have to jump through hoops to access the social-media website today. Unbowed, they go through the hassle of going through proxy servers to circumvent the regime's efforts to block Facebook.

And this week, for those suffering from the earthquakes that struck northwestern Iran, their unsanctioned efforts were life-saving.

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Iran Feature: The "No to Hijab" Campaign on Facebook (Esfandiari)

Dozens of Iranian women, and some men, living both inside and outside the country, have posted their pictures on the Facebook page of a newly launched campaign called, “No to Mandatory Hijab” that declares that women should have the right to choose whether or not to wear the Muslim headscarf.

Among the posters, according to the campaign’s organizers, are women living inside the country who voluntarily wear the chador -- the long cloak with a head scarf -- but believe that the hijab shouldn’t be compulsory.

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Bahrain Feature: The Long Tentacles of the Regime's PR Octopus (Owen Jones)

The CEO of Bell Pottinger PR with Bahrain's Minister of EnergyThe BBC World Service show "World Have Your Say" broadcast a show last week that concerned the media war in Bahrain. Among the topics discussed was the government PR machine, though unbeknownst to the BBC, one of the guests on the show is the managing director of a company who receives money from the government to do PR. Another guest on the show was also suggested to the BBC by a PR company connected to the royal family, though the BBC were quick to emphasise that she was not representing the royal family.

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Iran Feature: The Regime Locks Down the Internet (Erdbrink/Flock)

Throughout today, Thomas Erdbrink, the Tehran-based correspondent of The Washington Post, has been noting the gradual lockdown of the Internet in Iran. His rolling comments are noted in a blog by Elizabeth Flock, while Erdbrink's article follows:

Iran begins blocking access to Gmail, other sites
Elizabeth Flock 

When Thomas Erdbrink, The Washington Post’s correspondent in Tehran, logs on to the Internet in Iran, he never knows whether Gmail and Google Reader, The Post or Facebook will open for him. Increasingly, this is the error message he sees instead of the page he was trying to reach:

Translation: “According to computer crime regulations, access to this Web site is denied.

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Syria Interview: Activist "LeShaque" on Social Media and the Syrian Revolution

LeShaque's Avatar on TwitterIn Syria, we are unbelievably dependent on social media. For organizing, you create a Facebook group. For calling a protest, you create a Facebook page. For reporting news, you create a Twitter account. For communicating with other activists, you use Skype. For showing the protest to the world, you use YouTube. There are signs in Syria that say, “Thank you, YouTube.”

If this didn’t exist, the revolution would’ve been crushed immediately. There would’ve been another Hama massacre [the killing of tens of thousands in a rising in 1982] and the regime would have gotten away with it. Look at their behavior. Listen to the regime’s spokespersons. Listen to how much they complain about the media. They don’t complain about the protests as much as they complain about media.

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The Real Net Effect: Can Social Media Make A Difference in Yemen? (Alwazir)

Yemeni Activist Tawakkul KarmanSocial media is not a silent witness, nor is the cause of the mass people’s movement. Twitter and Facebook do not cause revolutions, people do. These people, fueled by years of injustice and wide grievances, are the true agents of change.

The power of these revolutions lies in the people’s strength to collaborate together. While the bulk of mobilization efforts in Yemen happen through word of mouth, radio, brochures and SMS services; sites such as Facebook helped people meet each other with one click, without having to travel great distances between cities.

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Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Spying on the Opposition

See also Egypt Feature: Activists' Statement on Detention of Alaa Abd-El Fattah
Syria Special: The Assad Regime's PR Campaign with British Journalists
Bahrain 1st-Hand: Saturday's Opposition Rally in Al Hajar for the "Arab Uprisings"
Saturday's Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: The Deaths Return to Hama

2220 GMT: Three Saudi filmmakers, detained earlier this month after posting a YouTube video showing poverty in the kingdom, were released today.

Firas Baqna, Khalid al-Rasheed, and Hussam al-Darwish were arrested on 19 October 19 after their documentary was shown by the London-based opposition TV channel Al-Islah.

The series is entitled "Malub Aleina (We Are Being Cheated".

2120 GMT: Yemen's international airport outside the capital Sana'a has been shut after the explosions that shook the nearby al-Daylami airbase tonight.

Flights have been diverted to Aden in the south of the country.

2110 GMT: The next hearing in the trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, his two sons, and his Ministers and aides has been delayed to 28 December. The postponement occurred after lawyers for alleged victims of Mubarak petitioned the court demanding that Judge Ahmed Refaat be replaced.

2000 GMT: We are overrun with footage of Syrian protests tonight --- a demonstration in Ma'arat Numan in the northwest:

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The Latest from Iran (10 October): A Moment's Relief from House Arrest

0850 GMT: Eggs and the Economy. Nikahang Kowsar illustrates the current economic situation with the sharp increase in the price of eggs --- the chicken tells the pleading Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "You cannot have them":

Aftab, noting that the price of a single egg is now 300 tomans (about 25 cents), declares, "Soon you will show your children pictures and tell them: 'These are eggs!'"

0840 GMT: Iranian authorities have imposed a travel ban on director Nader Davoodi, preventing him from participating in the Beirut International Film Festival on Monday.

Davoodi was going to present Red, White and Green, his 2010 documentary about violence after the disputed 2009 Presidential election.

“The Lebanese censorship authorities told us Friday afternoon we would have to remove Iranian director Nader Davoodi’s film from our program, and then we were informed that he would not be able to travel,” said Colette Naufal, director of the Film Festival.

Naufal added that she was told that Iranian Kurdish filmmaker Ibrahim Al-Saaidi, director of Mandoo, will be unable attend the festival due to travel difficulties.

In June, Iranian director Hana Makhmalbaf's Green Days, which also dealt with post-election violence in Iran, was cancelled after Lebanese intelligence warned the organisers of the film festival against screening the film.

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