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[liberationtech] From the National Internet to the Halal Internet; what do they mean by all this?
aminsabeti at gmail.com
Mon May 9 15:20:32 PDT 2011
Here is my article about Halal, Clean and National Internet in Iran.
>From the National Internet to the Halal Internet; what do they mean by all
The internet is one the problematic phenomena for the Islamic Republic
authorities: on one hand, these days it is very well known as a weapon of
the cultural invasion against Iran, which is called the soft war; on the
other, the regime considers it to be a means for demonstrating the power of
the regime in Iran. As a result of this ambivalence, there are different
approaches to the internet which has now penetrated various layers of the
Iranian society. One of the latest examples is the idea of a Halal Internet.
Halal, clean and national internet
In an interview <http://irna.ir/NewsShow.aspx?NID=30339700> with IRNA in
March 2011, Ali Agha Mohammadi spoke about the idea of starting the Halal
Internet for the first time. The most important quality of this kind of
internet would be to remove all immoral websites. Moreover, among other
facilities of this Halal Internet, according to him, is the facilitation of
electronic government, commerce and banking transactions, which is
considered a huge step forward with the Halal Internet for Iranian users.
However, a general review of his remarks that the most important features
that he mentions for the Halal Internet can be found in the other types of
internet access which are discussed in recent years by Iranian authorities.
In other words, this Halal Internet can be called the "Clean Internet" and
the Clean Internet is what they mean when they talk about the "National
Is Halal Internet doable?
As the idea of Halal Internet came about, there were many debates as to
whether this is even possible or not. These debates reveal the main purpose
of the Halal internet.
In an interview <http://www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9001300203> with
Fars News Agency, Behrouz Jafari, a member of the Cultural Commission of the
Parliament, says that this project cannot be implemented: “I have heard
about this new project, but I do not think it is feasible. Of course, there
is a need for this kind of internet and if we can change the cyberspace to
such a degree that people do not pursue the immoral websites, it would be
good. However, I have serious doubts as to whether this could be
However, unlike Mr. Jafari, Hojjat al-Islam Hossein Ebrahimi, a member of
the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of the Parliament does
not see the launch of a Halal or Clean Internet
he gives the example of China: “China has been successful in having this
kind of internet and so can we. Therefore, having Clean Internet in Iran is
Mohammad Karami Rad, another member of the National Security and Foreign
Policy Commission of the Parliament agrees
Mr. Ebrahimi and believes that Halal and Clean Internet can be successfully
launched by domestic experts: “One has to have a basic definition of the
idea of Halal and Clean Internet and know the terms of its work. Generally,
there has to be more information available on the Clean and Halal Internet
and our domestic professionals are very well capable of doing this job.”
Halal Internet: an excuse for censoring the internet
A quick review of the interviews which are available on the Halal Internet
(as in the three examples given above) reveals that the biggest concern of
the Iranian authorities, who have supported the Halal Internet, is not to
merely purify the internet from immoral websites; in all that we hear about
this idea, there is a clear purpose for controlling the cyberspace.
In order to better understand this point, one can look at the remarks of Ali
Arefi, an expert on cyberspace, in an
ISNA. He considers the Halal Internet a solution to the undesirable
conditions of the cyberspace and finds it a useful and efficient tool for
controlling the Persian blogosphere: “With the existence of weblogs,
whenever something gets published it takes some time to determine whether it
should be filtered or not. In this period until it is determine whether it
should be filtered, many people and websites already use the content and
Therefore, one can safely say that the Halal, Clean or National Internet is
not for the purpose of promoting an electronic state, but the main purpose
is to expand control over the cyberspace and regulating it as per the terms
required by the Iranian authorities. This is why there are legitimate
reasons for the various protests of Iranian internet users against such
Finally, the question which still remains is why the Iranian authorities are
still talking about controlling the web and its being contaminated despite
the widespread filtering and blocking of millions of immoral, political and
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