June 12 is Election Day in Iran. As that date nears, the government is further negating the freedoms of the Iranian population. President Ahmadinejad is handing out money to the public to try to sway votes, but he is disallowing the use of social networking. Will this strategy backfire on him? The younger generation worldwide is infatuated with Facebook and other social networking sites. They use the sites to build a community of friends with the same political views and to support their candidate of choice.
However, now CNN reports that Facebook users in Iran now receive a message in Farsi stating: “Access to this site is not possible.” It is believed Iran’s intelligence ministry is responsible for the blocking of Facebook access. President Ahmadinejad is not in tune with the desires of his country. Social networking is a powerful movement in the world today. Iranians must be deeply resentful that their ability to learn more about the candidates running for president and to use their Facebook pages to support the candidate of their choice is now impossible.
The average age of the population of Iran is 27; 21 million of the 66 million residents of Iran have Internet access according to CNN and the CIA World Factbook. The Internet is a tool that is changing elections worldwide. When dictators block this tool are they wise or foolish?
One of the candidates running against President M. Ahmadinejad, Mir Hossein Mousavi is using Facebook as a social networking tool in his campaign. CNN states that he has “more than 5,000 supporters on the site.” CNN reports that Iran’s Financial Times was told by the head of Mousavi’s campaign: “We are using new technologies because they have the capacity to be multiplied by people themselves who can forward Bluetooth, e-mails, and text messages and invite more supporters on Facebook.”
According to Africasia.com, Mr. Mousavi’s Facebook page quotes the candidate as stating: “Ahmadinejad’s government has dishonored Iranians across the world.”
The website Allfacebook.com reports that “Facebook has become the 10th most popular site in Iran according to Radio Free Europe. Political activists in Iran have become heavily active on the site, which is exactly the concern of the current regime.”
Newsweek documents the disdain of the younger generation for the current president by stating that at a rally for Mousavi a young woman was chanting “Anyone but Ahmadinejad.” Newsweek notes that President Ahmadinejad currently has a lead in the campaign. However, at this rally Mohammed Javad Mozafar, a historian, stated “If Ahmadinejad wins, that means the end of this reformist dream for a while. Many of these young people will be depressed and even leave the country. But if Mousavi wins, that means the citizens have won despite Ahmadinejad’s deceitful policies and the support he receives from above.” according to Newsweek.
President Ahmadinejad has been receiving much worldwide disdain in recent years. He denies the Holocaust and he is fond of threatening Israel and flouting rules about nuke development. The world waits and watches as the election approaches. Will change be coming to Iran or will Ahmadinejad rule for another four years?