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.
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images