During his first remarks in the new Persian year, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei expressed his concerns over the cyberspace. This is while other nations are constantly removing all types of censorship and secrecy. However, in Iran, ‘the men of faith’ still resort to untransparent means to cover up systematic corruption and gross violations of human rights.
Today, thanks to technology and the free flow of information, Iranian leaders can no longer hide their evil essence behind baseless claims and pious gestures. In this context, the theocratic government’s public base has been shrinking every day, which has severely terrified high-ranking officials.
“Unfortunately, [the people] do not obey necessary observations in our country despite my emphasis,” declared Khamenei, expressing his frustration in a video message on the occasion of Nowruz broadcasted by state television on March 21. “The cyberspace should be managed. This means should not be given to the enemy.”
For a long while like almost all dictators, Khamenei has intimidated society under the guise of combatting ‘foes’ to impose more restrictions and suppression. He and his representatives frequently speak about enemies and have applied an unprecedented inquisition in the country.
In the past four decades, they have justified beheading, flogging, amputating limbs, exiling, torturing, demonizing, and assassinating political dissidents at all the costs under the excuse of religious beliefs. However, they only won more anti-establishment protests and a volcano of public ire against the entire ruling system.
Why Does Khamenei Leak His Worry?
In such circumstances, Khamenei is concerned about society’s apathy in the Presidential election scheduled on June 18. Therefore, he intends to hold this election in a bleak atmosphere under censorship to appoint his desirable candidate. “U.S. and Israeli intelligence apparatuses want to disperse the people, claiming, ‘The election has been engineered.’ They accuse election organizers or the Guardian Council of manipulating the election,” he added.
This is while Khamenei had previously purged his rivals and their paths for resuming negotiations with the new U.S. administration. “There is a contradiction in terms when Khamenei seeks to hold a vibrant election, but at the same time, seeks to install his own subservient candidate,” said Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
In the leadup to the Presidential election, Iranian officials unveil their nervousness over the revelation of corruption and embezzlement cases. “Many social media activists—affiliated with principalists—attack us while when they were in charge, they ate and took advantages. Now, they tell us, ‘Do not eat and take advantages,” said Masoud Pezeshkian, a ‘reformist’ MP from the northwestern province of East Azarbaijan on March 20.
“In cyberspace, it is Haram [forbidden] to vilify others or revealing their true or false files,” said Yousef Tabatabaeinejad, Khamenei’s representative in the central province of Isfahan in his mid-March lecture. Furthermore, Khamenei’s representative in the southeastern province of Kerman Ahmad Sheikh-Bahaei expressed his fear about the free flow of information. “The cyberspace has turned into the enemy’s mental bombardment against our forces,” he said on March 12.
However, the former Minister of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and deputy chief of the judiciary Gholamhossein Mohseni-Eje’i alludedto the dictatorship’s main nightmare, saying, “They are openly training people on how to protest in the cyberspace.”
“If this incident(i.e. protests) takes place, it would be very dangerous. Our soft-warfare officers should not allow this incident to take place,” Khamenei had said on March 11.