Al Monitor – The popular messaging app Telegram is seemingly drawing its last breaths in Iran as a number of reports indicate its likely imminent blocking.
Telegram has more than 40 million users in Iran and is widely believed to have played a significant role in the victory of Iran’s moderate President Hassan Rouhani in the 2017 presidential elections.
On April 18, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s Telegram channel announced it would have no further activity. It said, “In order to protect the national interest and to break the monopoly of the Telegram messenger,” the website khamanei.ir has stopped its activity on this messaging application.
The website said Khamenei will continue his presence in cyberspace through local messaging applications.
However, a large number of Iranians have lost their trust in local messaging applications as these internet users assume their activities are monitored by the security apparatus in Iran. To combat this assumption, Khamenei issued a fatwa April 9 that says, “The administration must guard and provide security for the people’s privacy and the country. Invading the privacy and security of the people is forbidden and against Islamic law and must not be undertaken.”
Following the fatwa, Soroush — a local messaging application — said April 16, “Following [Khamenei’s] speech, we have not responded to any security requests. But before [Khamenei’s speech], there were [security officials’] requests that we had not answered, and we were under pressure because we had not responded to them.”