TEHRAN – Iranian officials in mid-April performed the biggest roundup to date of publishers whose websites violate Islamic law. The country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps took into custody 26 men and women on charges ranging from producing and distributing pornography to mocking Islam.
Among the crimes: uploading images of naked women, promoting orgies and incest, and ridiculing Islamic beliefs about things like the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson.
One of the detainees was accused of writing erotic fiction. Among the others, at least two men and one woman, all expatriates, were tricked into returning to the country in order to be arrested, according to friends and family.
The guards, who along with the rest of the country are celebrating Iran’s 30th year as an Islamic state, said all of the suspects were supported by foreign “enemies” including the U.S., Israel and Canada.
The role of website police represents an expansion of power for the IRGC, who previously did almost everything else, from manufacturing and deploying long-range missiles to running Iranian businesses to supporting Islamist terrorist organizations.
A special guard force dedicated to fighting internet crime was formed in March. The unit claims to have shut down 90 adult websites to date. Most of the accused website operators have confessed, according to statements made public by guard officials.
In 2007, Iran’s parliament passed a law prescribing execution for those convicted of participating in the production of pornography. Under the law, “producers” and “main elements” of the materials are considered “corrupters of the world.” The phrase is a direct quote from the Quran, which states death is an appropriate penalty for such individuals.