450 Iranian social media users arrested for ‘immoral posts’

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

About 450 social media users were arrested or summoned and warned by Iran’s cyber police during the summer.  Administrators of groups on apps such as Instagram, Telegram and WhatsApp were targeted, a website linked to the Revolutionary Guards reported. "These people were carrying out immoral activities, had insulted religious beliefs or had illegal activities in the field of fashion," the Gherdab website said.  Some of the suspects will face trial.

The Revolutionary Guards are a powerful body tasked with protecting the Islamic Revolution, and all its values. Hence their crack down on those deemed to be using social media to espouse sentiments or activities that go against the revolutionary grain. ‘Illegal activities in the field of fashion’ almost certainly refers to pictures of women without headscarves being shared on social media.

Despite restrictions, more than half of Iran's population of 80 million is online. Telegram alone has more than 20 million users. And social media is therefore a very powerful tool for strengthening Iran’s church: countless internet pastors report that Whatsap, Telegram and Viber are very useful vehicles for discipleship and evangelism. So there is much to pray for.

Pray for

  • Justice for those arrested during the summer;
  • Increased freedom of expression in Iran;
  • Protection for those using social media to share Christ.