Since the presidential elections in June 2009 and the riots that erupted shortly after, Iran has been sensitive to the war it believes the West is waging against it.
As the recent Wikileak documents reveal, Iran is right. America and its allies are indeed occupied with Iran and their sinister regime. But while, Iran is on a worldwide weapon hunt, they are also very much concerned about the cyber war in the online world.
From their perspective, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are the new frontiers used by the west for its cultural onslaught against Iran.
However, these new frontiers are also used by the regime itself to reach out to the youth of Iran and at the same time monitor activists social media actions to crack down on anti regime activities.
Various Iranian spokespeople have stressed the need for a stronger Iranian presence in cyberspace to protect Iran in the face of increasing external threats targeting Iran's nuclear targets, as well as the "heart and soul" of Iran, its young people, in an attempt to “corrupt and poison it with decadent western cultural content."
President Ahmadinejad focused on the issue of cultural onslaught this week. During a meeting with families of “martyrs”, he said, "The enemy is witness to the ideals and glorious culture of the nation of Iran in whatever part of the world it goes... "
Basij Commander Mohammad Reza Naghdi emphasized that his organization intends to improve its cyber-defense capabilities. He referred to the recent attempts by the "enemies of the revolution to transmit cyber worms to nuclear and military installations" in order to damage them. The IRGC is already using 1,500 of its paramilitary Bassij forces to control Internet use in Tehran. The “cyber warriors" will increase their activities in more aggressive means soon.
In any event, Iran is already waging its own virtual war on the Web. Last week "Iranian Cyber Army" hacked into the popular website Farsi1, posting this message on its home page: "Rupert Murdoch, the Moby company, the Mohseni family, and the Zionist partners should know that they will take the wish to destroy the structure of Iranian families with them to the grave."
The cultural war goes beyond the on-line world with the regime periodically launching lines of products attempting to compete with the global brands favored by youth around the world. To the dismay of the IRGC these attempts usually fail miserably - Sara and Dara, the Iranian equivalents of Barbie and Ken – did not prove popular among Iranian children, that continued purchasing school bags bearing the images of Barbie and Bratz.
The Fatima doll, dressed in traditional Islamic clad and named after Muhamad's daughter, the exemplar of virtue for women, is the regime's most recent attempt to win back the hearts of Iranian girls. This must be the most extreme makeover Barbie has undergone.
Iranian people continue to use social media sites when they can. However being a Facebook or Twitter user is a risky business in Iran since the government has a law at its disposal that make it possible to label almost any Internet user a criminal.
All of us at Giyus.org wish the Iranian people freedom - freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and the freedom to use any Internet site they want to.