Saturday, August 26, 2006

War of Internet Sites over the Distribution of Spoils

Esfandiar Saffari, Rooz Online:
From the moment of the fundamentalist take-over of the government, there have been many new Internet sites launched, each criticizing one another or using propaganda against each other.

In the last year, and since the fundamentalists took over, similar restrictions or
suppression of the press, threats and closing of sites have become commonplace in the Internet arena as well. With this policy now in force, sites which are in any way seen as critical of the regime’s policies are forced to shut down or face all kinds of red tape, or other sites favorable to the policies of the current government are launched on a greater scale.

Among the many dozens recently launched are sites such as Aref, Farda, Khorshid, Asseman, Raja, Didar, Nowsazi, Khedmat, Sharif and Alborz news, all of which have been active since July 2005. Most of these sites refuse to acknowledge their financial support, or state the names of their editors or the persons in charge. Posting news items, and various reports, without even using a pseudonym under any of the articles posted, these sites criticize each other and sometimes even some of the policies of the various government entities such as the judiciary and the Majilis (the Parliament).

Although most of these sites are clearly financed by the state, some are getting funds from unknown sources, and don’t hesitate to try and eliminate each other by attributing corruption, nepotism, getting huge profitable advertisements and/or exposing names of government officials to their competitors. Saedi Aboutaleb, a member of the Itanian Parliament, who is himself one of the conservative party Abadgaran, in a word of advice to his colleagues in the government, said: The government, by creating some of these sites, which are not even functioning within the boundaries of the law, should think twice that by doing so, it is in fact turning them into an oppositional force.”

Most of these sites are in support of Ahmadi-Nejad and critical of many political figures, and political parties, even moderates and/or traditionalists within the government. READ MORE

However, when it comes to the ultra right wing, each of these sites supports one or another government official. Even if the government spokesman has sent a public letter to Tehran’s prosecutor to take serious action against the press in general and the sites in particular, it is interesting to note that some of the opinions of Mr. Elham have been posted on many of these mentioned sites.

It seems as if the contradictions within the ranks of the right-wingers have been channeled to the Internet sites for the purpose of creating an unhealthy atmosphere and a climate of distrust within the media. In the last few weeks, these sites have been at each other’s throats accusing one another of “chain sites”, a term applied to the reformist or semi-independent press which they now attribute to each other.