There are times when Iran and other sharia-based countries look like characters out of a Fellini film. This week, Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued another fatwa to Muslims that left the rest of the world chuckling. Khamenei has outlawed participation in social networks that include both men and women. He wants something akin to a Cyber Burka for women to avoid even getting as little as a tweet from a man who is not a family member. Adding to the absurdity, he used his website (which presumably has both men and women) to make the announcement.. He also has a Facebook but presumably any future “friends” will be male.
What is really amazing is that this is not April 1st. Khamenei actually believes this. He proclaimed: “Given the immorality that often applies to this, it is not permitted.”
Of course, few people actually believed that this was a fatwa dictated by faith. Iran remains, for good reason, fearful over any forum allowing free speech and association of citizens who might start to question its harsh sharia-based laws or the denial of basic freedoms.
The government appears struggling like China and other countries to cut off access to free information or discourse. The telecommunications ministry is reportedly working on a “Halal Network,” an Islam-friendly intranet to cut off use of the global internet — thereby giving the government control )or at least greater control) over what citizens know. Presumably there will be a Shariater to send Islamically correct tweets like OMA for “oh my Allah.” Tweets like “I got stoned last night” will also have a different meaning for the Halal Network presumably.
There is also the disconnect in the fatwa when presumably women are allowed to call numbers in the government and private realm where males answer. Will there also be complete segregation of any telephonic communications?