An influential Iranian cleric said that high-speed internet on mobile phones was “un-Islamic” because devices necessary to prevent corruption are not yet available. At the same time, Iran’s minister of communication information technology, Mahmoud Vaezi, was summoned by a parliamentary committee to respond to questions about high-speed internet.
The issue of high-speed internet was raised on the website of Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, a source of emulation and a senior conservative cleric in the Islamic Republic, by a group who introduced themselves as a “group of cyber-activists.” All sources of emulation have sections on their websites where followers can ask for religious rulings on issues, a process called “estefta.” The question and response was published on the website Aug 25.
The activists, presumably a conservative group, wrote, “In consideration of what the communication minister said that soon permission for ‘high-speed mobile internet devices and 3G mobile communication services and higher’ will be presented to telephone operators; and in regard to that even in non-clerical countries, terms and various conditions have been provided to create moral and psychological security for users and to protect them against damage from these devices, such as access to immoral articles, films, and pictures, spreading rumors, seduction, weakening the family foundation, spying and selling confidential information. But in our country, these infrastructure have not been provided yet, and despite the corruption that exists, oversight is not possible.”
The question further stated that many countries also provide these internet services themselves through domestic companies, but that despite the laws to create domestic “national information networks” in Iran, this has not yet been done. The questioners asked Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi his opinion on providing high-speed internet on mobile devices given that the “legal and necessary safety and purification” of these devices has not yet been provided.
The response read, “In consideration of the various corruption that you presented in regard to the spreading of high-speed internet, such as access of youth and even adolescents to polluted articles, films and pictures and films that are against Islamic morals and beliefs and in regard to that, permission for this law has not been given, and that opposing laws of the Islamic Republic is not permissible, and with consideration that the national information network, which can solve many of these problems, has not been provided, certainly steps in something hurried, meaning high-speed mobile internet devices and 3G mobile communication services and higher, are against Shariah and against moral and human norms.”
The response continued, “And officials should not only think about material profits and not think about it as a religious intellectual manner. It’s necessary to put this to the Supreme Council of Cyberspace, which is the legal reference for this affair. And after compliance in these matters, which would prevent the negative aspects, then take action. The judiciary must also not be indifferent in this vital matter.”
On Aug. 28, Communications Minister Vaezi was summoned by parliament’s Cultural Commission about the possible consequences of high-speed internet. A member of the commission, Nasrollah Pejmanfar, said that Vaezi’s answers were not satisfactory and that they would prevent him from providing higher-speed internet until their concerns are addressed.
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