Al Monitor – Influential Iranian parliamentarian Alaeddin Boroujerdi created a stir in Iranian media when he said that by April 20, the popular messaging service Telegram, with tens of millions of users in Iran, would be blocked. “This was a decision made at the highest levels, and Telegram will be replaced by a domestic app,” said Boroujerdi, the head of the parliament’s powerful National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.
Addressing the use of Telegram during popular protests in January, Boroujerdi said that the decision had been made because of Telegram’s “destructive role” and Iran’s ability to offer Soroush as a replacement service. Telegram currently has 40 million users in Iran, while Soroush has 3 million. Telegram is widely used for businesses transactions.
After Boroujerdi’s statement, which he made March 31 during a local radio program in the city of Borujerd, members of parliament opposed to the move began to push back. Bahram Parsaei, the spokesman for the Reformist Hope faction, called Boroujerdi’s comments part of an effort to “create the groundwork” for limiting use of foreign messaging services in favor of domestic ones.
Parsaei said that on March 18, the last working day of the Iranian calendar year, members of parliament had convened for a closed-door session, chaired by Speaker Ali Larijani, to address such topics as “cyberspace and domestic messaging services.” Regarding those pushing for the use of domestic services, Parsaei said, “[They] tried to satisfy the members of parliament for such an action, but their arguments were not satisfying.” He added, “I did not see approval of this issue among the majority of members.”