Those unfunny guys in Iran
There?s an sms revolution taking place in Iran. And smileys have become its most potent weapon against the country?s ultra-conservative regime.india Updated: Apr 17, 2006 00:20 IST
There’s an sms revolution taking place in Iran. And smileys have become its most potent weapon against the country’s ultra-conservative regime. Considering that this seems have wiped the smile off President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s face — he’s now ordered a crackdown on all sms jokes poking fun at him — the dissidents may have just won half the battle.
That this is not the first time that Mr Ahmadinejad has got the message of his unpopularity among a section of Iranians in this particular way may have something to do with his grumpy mood. For, prior to the presidential elections in June last year, the Iranian judiciary had been forced to send out a warning against text messages aiming to “denigrate presidential election candidates”. No prizes for guessing which candidate inspired the most texts. That time, though, the victory was Mr Ahmadinejad’s.
But the ways of the modern guerrillas-with-a-sense-of-humour didn’t start with the mobile phone. With the shutting down of many independent newspapers, the voices of dissent found what they thought was a secure anonymity in cyber space and its weblogs. Since then, however, over a dozen bloggers were arrested for “espionage and insulting the Islamic Republic”. So can jokes bring about a regime change? Maybe not. But a president who orders criminal action against those who joke about him may find his popularity waning further.