Seyed Ali Taheri, spokesperson for the Iran parliament’s Culture Committee, is the latest Iranian official to speak out against the use of Facebook after attempts by President Hassan Rouhani’s administration to ease access to the social-media website.
Iran’s police chief, Cmdr. Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, opposed a new harsh plan to deport Afghan refugees illegally living in Iran.
Iran’s government has tried various plans to address the reportedly 2 million to 3 million Afghan refugees in the country, having even tried a voluntary self-deportation plan that failed. Many Afghans in Iran have taken jobs as day laborers with little guarantee of work.
Afghan refugees have fled to Iran intermittently over the last three decades because of continuing conflict in their homeland. They have faced various forms of discrimination in education, housing and employment, which has increased in recent years as Iran’s economy has taken a hit from Western sanctions.
Iran’s latest plan gave Afghan refugees who are in the country illegally until September 6 to leave or face a fine and deportation. The responsibility of deportations would be in the hands of the police.
However, Ahmadi Moghaddam strongly criticized the latest plan and the recent treatment of Afghans by the police in Qom.
On his opposition to the latest plan and the improbability of keeping Iran’s borders closed, Ahmadi Moghaddam said: “We cannot deport all the Afghans from the country, and we are opposed to these thoughts that appear to some individuals overnight to solve our economic problems. We have closed the borders but they come through sea or gaps in the borders. Even though many Afghans enter the country with passports and visas, they don’t return.”
To deport all Afghan nationals under three months is not possible according to Ahmadi Moghaddam, adding that “we have the power but it does not mean you have to use power everywhere.” He stressed the need for the Police, Intelligence Ministry, Supreme National Security Council, and the Foreign Ministry to hold a session in order to create a “logical” plan regarding the exportation of Afghans.
On previous deportations, Ahmadi Moghaddam said that “some years back, when we deported Afghans, many of the country’s farms and brick factories suspended [work]. Iranians are looking for work but they will not do this type of work.” He continued: “Our youth, because they have college degrees, want a desk and a cell phone to conduct business.”
On a recent incident in Qom involving the police and Afghan nationals, Ahmadi Moghaddam said that “a report came to me recently that foreign nationals were receiving ill treatment and immediately I sent someone to investigate the matter.”
He continued: “These individuals are our brothers and because of the situation in their country have sought refuge in our country. We must not look down on them because among them many are scholars and scientists, of course, laborers are also respectful for us.” He added that he told police officials in Qom that when it comes to foreign nationals “not even one hour of ill treatment is acceptable.”
Ahmadi Moghaddam said that “when we see videos of refugees from Myanmar we feel bad for them…but when they want to pass through the country we say arrest them, they have cholera.” He continued that many people who immigrate under these conditions are die and that Iran must have a “humanitarian view” toward the matter.
Serat News reports on the various Facebook profile pages of Iranian politicians and “probable electoral candidates.” The Serat editorial states that the country’s electoral laws prohibit premature electioneering and that doing so can be interpreted as an electoral violation. Nonetheless, the article goes on, several individuals have “circumvented” the law by setting up Facebook profiles and fan pages.
The article continues that while clerics who plan to compete in the presidential race such as Ali Fallahian and Mostafa Pourmohammadi, have not shown themselves particularly disposed toward “modern advertising,” laymen such as Mohsen Rezaei, Mohammad Reza Bahonar and Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf have an active presence on the social networking site, with multiple accounts bearing their names.
Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, and Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, a member of the 2+1 presidential electoral coalition and in-law to Iran’s supreme leader, also have a presence on Facebook with pages dedicated to their online promotion. Serat does, however, admit that it is often not entirely clear who is, in fact, responsible for running these profiles and fan pages.
Serat was also sure to mention a page entitled “I hate Mashaei,” attacking President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial ally, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei.
When speaking of the Reformist candidates, the article claims that their presence is less significant, only mentioning Mohammad Reza Aref and Mostafa Kavakebian. No mention is made of former President Mohammad Khatami, or Interior Minister Abdollah Nuri, who it has also been speculated could attempt to run.