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Currency website manager arrested and accused of causing fluctuations; Iran considers Samsung ban after offensive ad in Israel; Saudi Arabia blocks Khamenei's website; Tehran murals tell visual history of the revolution before TV and the internet

Persian Cyberspace Report: Internet blackouts across Iran; BBC journalists interrogated, family members imprisoned

Media Analysis: Triumph or Transgression, Depending on Who’s Looking- Exiled Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani posed for a topless picture-- strategically cupping her breasts--for France’s Madame le Figaro magazine, igniting a smear campaign against her in the Iranian press. By Yassmin Manauchehri

News in Brief

Iran considers partial ban on Samsung after Israeli ad shows bombing of nuke facilities. A commercial in Israel featuring Mossad agents disguised as Iranian veiled women who end up blowing up an Iranian nuclear plant using a Samsung tablet has earned the wrath of the Islamic republic. The commercial which angered Muslim internet users, now has Iran mulling a partial ban of products manufactured by the South Korean electronics giant Samsung, the Israel-based The Haaretz newspaper reported on Friday. Head of Majlis Energy Committee Arsalan Fat’hipour told Press TV that Samsung chose to forget the high volume of trade it shares with Iran in effort to move closer to Israel. Fat’hipour said Samsung’s apology to Iran was “necessary” but it would not be enough to restore relations with Tehran.

Simpsons dolls banned in Iran as 'promoters of Western culture': Sorry kids, the Simpsons are now forbidden in Tehran. An agency tied to the Iranian government has banned the sale of dolls of the American cartoon characters, an Iranian newspaper reported Monday. According to Shargh, an independent newspaper, the Simpsons were banned to avoid the promotion of Western culture, putting Bart and Homer alongside Barbie on an Iranian toy blacklist. Superman and Spider-Man were allowed because they helped the "oppressed," the Associated Press reported. Mohammad Hossein Farjoo, secretary of policymaking at the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, didn't say what was wrong with the Simpsons in particular, but said any doll that had distinguishable adult genitals, or any dolls of adults at all, were banned "because these dolls are promoters of Western culture," the AP reported.

“Iranians become joyful when Internet down”: An Iranian IT expert believes that Iranian Internet users become happy when Internet goes down, a status which occurs very frequently in the country, “just because it is very slow”. Talking to ILNA news agency, Ali Akbar Jalali, a well known IT lecturer at the Tehran University of Science and Industry says the majority of Iranian Internet users still use dial-up for connection.

Saudi Arabia Blocks Iran's Supreme Leader's Website: Iranian news websites report that Saudi Arabia has blocked the official website of Iran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which is available in a dozen languages, including Arabic. "Shafaf" says Khamenei's website was blocked by Saudi officials ahead of his sermons for Friday Prayers on February 3, parts of which the Iranian leader delivered in Arabic. The hard-line "Shafaf" website posted a screenshot of the page it claims Saudi users get when they try to access Khamenei's website.

Revolutinary Art--Iran Murals Gallery of Defiance: Since Iran's Islamic Revolution 33 years ago, the walls and buildings of major cities have been an open-air gallery to vilify the state's enemies and venerate the defenders of the theocracy. Government-sponsored murals became a centerpiece of the Islamic establishment's image-building machine: Depicting foes such as the U.S. with images including a skeleton for the Statue of Liberty, and celebrating the battlefield dead from the 1980s war with Iraq as heroic martyrs guaranteed a place in heaven. The images -- particularly in the capital Tehran -- were a visual history of Iran's revolution well before state TV and the Internet took over as more far-reaching tools for the Islamic establishment. Some new murals are still commissioned, but it's become a fading expression of Iran's world view.

Cultural Highs and Lows of Iran: The Iranian domestic drama, “A Separation,” has won the prestigious Golden Globe award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for best foreign language film. Written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, “A Separation” is now in contention for two Academy Awards, the top motion picture prizes of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Analysis: American intelligence agencies, media stoke war drive against Iran. Provocative testimony by US officials at a January 31 US Senate Intelligence Committee hearing has become the focus of a media campaign, accusing Iran of posing a terrorist threat to the United States.

Iran hosts the 2012 Fajr Film Festival in Tehran: The 15th edition of Fajr Film Market has been opened in the Iranian capital city of Tehran on the sidelines of this year's Fajr International Film Festival. Iran's Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Javad Shamaqdari, secretary of the festival Mohammad Khazaei and head of the festival's international section Amir Esfandiari attended the opening ceremony of the film market at Tehran's Milad Tower on February 2. Canada, Lebanon, Turkey, Germany, Syria, India, Qatar, Afghanistan, and the United Arab Emirates are among the participating countries.

Iranian Regime Chilling Media Ahead Of Parliamentary Elections: The United States has expressed concern that the Iranian regime is putting a further chill on the press environment in advance of their parliamentary elections, and that they are even trying to reach the arms of the state out to overseas Iranians who work for international press organizations. The legislative elections in the Islamic republic is scheduled for March 2. During a routine press briefing on Tuesday, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland condemned recent increases in repression against journalists, bloggers, and free-speech advocates in Iran.

Iran increasingly controls its Internet: Whenever Maysam, a prominent Iranian blogger, connects to the Internet from his office in the bazaar, he switches on a special connection that for years would bypass the Islamic republic’s increasingly effective firewall. But recently the software, which allowed him and millions of other Iranians to go online through portals elsewhere in the world, stopped working. When it sporadically returns, speeds are so excruciatingly slow that sites such as Facebook and – which evaluates unofficial news and rumors in Farsi — become unusable.

From the Farsi Newsletter

Manager of website arrested: The manager of currency exchange website Mesghal has been arrested in Iran and is accused of reporting misinformation and being the main cause of the fluctuating exchange rates in Iran.

Roozegar daily temporarily shut down again: Tehran’s Prosecutor has temporarily closed down Roozegar daily for publishing an interview with Mohammadreza Khatami, the former leader of Mosharekat Party. This is the second time in the past six months that Roozegar has been closed.

Former President's magazine license revoked: Former President Mohammad Khatami's Baran Foundation  announced that the Press Supervisory Board has revoked the publishing licence for Aiin Goftogoo (Methods of Dialogue), a magazine under his management.






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