- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
Iranian mobile operator Rightel is providing the country’s mobile users with their first 3G Internet services, but the company’s video-calling feature has drawn the ire of the country’s clerical establishment.
Four grand ayatollahs — Nasser Makarem-Shirazi, Hossein Nouri Hamedani , Jafar Sohbhani and Seyyed Sajjad Alavi Gorgani — have issued fatwas banning Rightel.
"The decadence and corruption associated with [Rightel’s] use outweighs its benefits,” decreed Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi. “It will cause new deviances in our society, which is unfortunately already plagued with deviances.” Ayatollah Alavi Gorghani said that the video-call service would “jeopardize the public chastity” and “inflicts numerous damages” on Iran’s religion and political system.
An anti-Rightel website called "Rightel mirage" has been set up by Iran’s hard-liners. “Providing everyone with opium and then advising them to use it wisely,” reads an op-ed on the site, cautioning against the risks video calls pose to family life.
Some activists also suspect the attack on Rightel may be part of a move to limit communications during this summer’s presidential election.