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Iranian ayatollahs issue fatwa against 3G internet provider

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Flickr Iran flag
Flickr Iran flag

Four Iranian ayatollahs have condemned mobile internet provider RightTel for undermining the country's religious foundation and encouraging immorality. Al Monitor reports that RighTel, which holds exclusive rights to 3G coverage in Iran, has been the subject of a fatwa by each ayatollah. "The decadence and corruption associated with [Rightel’s] use outweighs its benefits," writes Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi, previously known for issuing a fatwa against domesticated dogs that led Iran to ban pet advertisements. A site whose name translates to "RighTel Mirage" has also posted notices from Grand Ayatollahs Ja'far Sobhani, Hosein Noori Hamadani, and Seyyed Muhammad Ali Alavi Gorgani.

The site, which also includes comments from other hardliners who oppose RighTel, says it's not anti-technology, just decrying the company's application of it. Political cartoons hosted there suggest that access to mobile internet will encourage pornography viewing, and Ghorgani has said it will "jeopardize the public chastity." A particular concern is video calling, which could allow men and women to speak to each other without oversight. Iran, however, has also gone to great lengths to stop online speech that could threaten its legitimacy or offend citizens. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei previously ran afoul of filtering measures while trying to condemn anti-filtering tools, and the country is said to be launching its own domestic internet this year.