Iran: Basij Members Trained To Conquer Virtual World
By Golnaz Esfandiari,
Controlling the virtual
world is one of the priorities of Iran's pro-government Basij force and members
are receiving necessary training in that area, according to an official with the
New warriors online
Abbas Mahmudian, an official in charge of media and public
relations of Khorasan's Imam Reza Basij force, said that through "policies and
planning" the Basij organization has set the
of the virtual world" as one of its priorities.
Mahmudian said in this regard over 100 members of the Basij went recently
through training in Mashad:
In this three-day course, 120 Basij sisters and brothers
learned about blogging, social networking sites, psychological operations,
online spying security, and acquaintance with Basij cyber centers, mobile
phones and their capabilities, and computer games with the aim of targeted
entry of the virtual world.
Iranian officials have warned about the dangers of the Internet, which they see
as a fertile ground for "the enemy's soft war" against Iran and emphasized the
need to bring it under control.
Last January, the cultural deputy of the Basij organization Mohammad Ali Nayini
said that the militia is taking action for the hardliners to conquer
the virtual world within a year.
Yet despite the government's massive online censorship -- and other measures it
has taken including the launching of pro-government blogs and social networking
sites -- it hasn't so far been successful in fully controlling the web and
preventing activists and other citizens from using it for their own purposes.
The Internet remains an empowering tool for the opposition, which uses websites
and social-networking sites to spread news and information.
Earlier this week opposition leader Mehdi Karrubi spoke
to his supporters online and answered their questions about a number of
issues including the future of the opposition Green Movement, the support of the
clergy, and the role of Iranian expats and social networking.
During his online chat, Karrubi said that he is involved in talks for
participating in Qods Day demonstrations that are taking place in Iran on the
last Friday of the month of Ramadan.
Copyright (c) 2010 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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