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Iran Induces Internet 'Coma' Ahead of Elections

As Iran's June 14 presidential elections near, Internet users are turning to virtual private networks (VPNs) to bypass censors, accepting the risks that come with them.
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY MOHAMMAD DAVARI  - A picture taken of the screen of a laptop shows a webpage that appears when an Iranian user tries to visit websites which are blocked by the government, on May 13, 2013  in the Iranian capital Tehran. The top line reads in Farsi "Year of political and economical epoch," referring to supreme leader, Ali Khamenei who has named the new Iranian year and the bottom line reads in Farsi "Congratulation for the birthday of Fatima, Prophet Muhammed's daughter, Happy Mother'

With the Iranian presidential elections coming up on June 14, high-speed, filter-free Internet access in the Islamic republic has become scarce. Earlier this month, the Iranian daily Ghanoon likened the state of the Internet in Iran to being in a coma — alive but barely functioning.

Although Iran had some 28 million Internet users in 2009 — including the largest number of bloggers and general users in the Middle East — Iranians continue to find themselves stuck behind an “electronic curtain” without the tools to get around it or through it. 

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