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BBC Persian reporters face intimidation campaign; 4 arrested over Facebook beauty contest; cardboard Khomeini mocked; websites dealing with religious persecution blocked

Persian Cyberspace Report: Bahman Group worker commits suicide on the factory floor, an Israeli advertisement for the Samsung Galaxy Tablet featuring cross-dressing men and anti-Iranian propaganda causes outrage, the Green Path of Hope calls Iranians to come into the street and protest, computer programmer Saeed Malekpour is sentenced to death and the Imam returns! A cardboard cutout of Ayatollah Khomeini disembarks from an aeroplane as Iranians across the world scoff with laughter.

EU denounces clampdown on Iranian journalists: Catherine Ashton, the head of EU foreign policy, announced in a statement that she is concerned about "the growing harassment and persecution of journalists and internet bloggers in Iran" and she called for their immediate release.

Online interrogation of the BBC journalist in London: In an unprecedented move, Iranian Revolutionary Guard intelligence officers forced one BBC Persian reporter to have a 40 minute video chat from London to answer their questions after arresting family members of employees of BBC Persian TV.

Iranian Authorities Arrest Four Over Facebook Beauty Contest: To the question “Am I hot or not?” the Iranian authorities gave a resounding answer to thousands of young people who posted glamorous shots of themselves to Facebook in recent weeks: Don’t even ask. Iran’s state Cyber Police on Monday said that it had arrested two men and two women, for “promoting vulgarity and corruption.” The four had maintained a Facebook page that acted as a kind of for the social media age, Golnaz Esfandiari reported on Radio Free Europe’s Persian Letters blog.

Cardboard Cutouts of Khomeini Are Mocked Online: To celebrate the 33rd anniversary on Wednesday of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s triumphant return from exile, Iran re-enacted his arrival at a Tehran airport, using a cardboard cutout to stand in for the late Iranian leader. Photographs of the ceremony published on Tuesday by Iran’s semiofficial Mehr news agency seemed to lend themselves to parody, with Farsi and English Internet satirists treating them as bizarre authoritarian kitsch.

Iranian establishment questions international success of "A Separation": Iranian filmmaker Jamal Shurjeh, a staunch supporter of the Islamic Republic regime, has criticized the internationally acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, saying Farhadi's latest creation is in line with U.S. and Israeli policies. The Fars news agency reports that Shurjeh was addressing a meeting of "Youth for a Life in Faith" on the topic of youth and cinema when he said: "99 percent of foreign festivals are political, and Asghar Farhadi's film has been awarded by these festivals because it is compatible with the policies of American politicians." A Separation by Asghar Farhadi has won international acclaim, most recently attracting Oscar nominations in two categories, best original screenplay and best foreign language film. Jamal Shurjeh told the meeting: "If Farhadi was committed to Iran and its people, he should have announced that "A Separation" would not be screened in Israel."

Naked Activists Flash Flesh for Banned Iranian Actress: A fleshy rebellion is spreading hot and fast across the cybersphere, as a growing number of activists are stripping down in support of Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani, who was reportedly banned from her homeland after posing topless for French magazine Madame Le Figaro. Farahani -- who had earlier been banned from leaving her country for appearing in the 2008 Leonardo DiCaprio/Russell Crowe film "Body of Lies" -- appeared (see above) without a shirt, but with her hands covering her breasts, to protest Iran's restrictive policies toward women. The actress, who's now based in Paris, told the press that she was subsequently advised by the Iranian government that she is no longer welcome within her former country's borders. But there might be a happy -- or at least sexy -- ending to the sad tale of gender oppression. Since world of Farahani's predicament broke, a movement has sprung up, with supporters encouraging others to post Farahani's topless photo as a "PicBadge" of the actress' photo-shoot to their Facebook profiles.

The invisible revolution is online: Guided by an army of "geeks with a conscience," a network of digital activists, working mostly in the shadows, is emerging to challenge the restrictions of repressive governments around the world. Sascha Meinrath is part of that army. Working with a team of tech experts inside a nondescript building in downtown Washington, Meinrath is developing new technologies that could one day be used to evade government censors and secret police. "You can imagine any of the world's hot spots, and we have been contacted by people there," he told CNN.

Bulgarian cartoonist wins first prize at Tabriz contest: Artist Georgiev Valentin from Bulgaria picked up the first prize at the 11th Tabriz Cartoon Contest 2012, winning a $1500 cash prize, a memorial statuette and a three-day trip to Tabriz. This year’s theme was the economy.

Internet marketing pioneers set for Tehran: Internationally-renowned pioneer of Iranian Information Technology Dr Ali Akbar Jalali has announced the Second Internet Marketing Conference in Iran. The conference, which is hoped to increase awareness of online business opportunities in the country, takes place in Tehran in February. The press conference of the Internet Marketing Conference in Iran arranged to announce the event was attended by a number of prominent figureheads and was held at the Hamrah-e Avval service hall ‘1868’. The conference’s executive and lecturer Hamid Sepidnam, spoke of the main aims of the conference, which were said to include direct marketing on the web, the role of social media in marketing, analysis of the web, investigating successful companies and samples, localisation of internet marketing strategies, SEO and optimization of content, profitability models in the web environment for the companies and electronic banking.

Israeli hackers brought down Iran’s Press TV website and two websites belonging to the Islamic Republic’s Ministry of Health and Medical Education on Thursday. The hackers, who call themselves IDF Team, said their actions were a response to a series of attacks on Israeli sites the previous day.Press TV, the Iranian regime’s English language satellite channel, was unavailable following the announcement by the hackers.

From the Farsi Newsletter

Websites that deal with "religious persecution" are being blocked: Head of Iran’s Internet police announced that they are looking for websites which create "religious persecution" and destroy people's faith in Iran.

A 14 year old hacker has been arrested: Police chief of Production and Exchange of Information Space announced the arrest of a14 year old hacker. He said that 36 sites in Iran are being attacked by hackers daily. He added that 64 percent of cyber criminals are between 17 to 25 years of age.



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