Why Iran blocked a smartphone game
On December 28, 2016, Iranian deputy attorney general Abdol Samad Khorram Abadi announced: "The majority of the committee's members demanded Clash of Clans blocked from Iran's mobile digital network due to 'negative effects' which may include provoking violence."
The Iranian public refused to abide, condemning the attorney general's pretext as ridiculous nonsense. The app has proved to be conventional, without any negative psychological effect, and it lacks any "forbidden content."
I've been playing this app for about 18 months now. There are a lot of things people like – for example, ragefilled Barbarians with big mustaches – and the battling and tactics are fun. The way the company has the game set up enables you to create your own army and lead your clan to victory. You are able to update and use game balances to improve gameplay.
Beneath these hollow excuses for Tehran blocking Clash of Clan lies deep apprehension reflecting how the ayatollahs manage to maintain power and shield themselves from internal upheavals. In fact, after Donald Trump's election victory in the United States, deep concern and fears formed among hardliners and even the so-called "moderates" in Tehran.
Those who run Iran are worried that the people's exasperation and scattered protests may merge into a mass uprising similar to that of 2009. Iranian regime officials are pointing fingers at Iranian opposition MEK for the 2009 nationwide uprising, blaming this organized movement for fueling the entire crisis that rattled the mullahs' very foundations.
To this end, considering the powder-keg nature of Iran's society, and the MEK enjoying vast political support from both sides of the Atlantic, even a simple computer game becomes intolerable for the regime in Iran, as the mullahs are terrified of this very medium igniting popular protests.
Possible use of the battling tactics in Clash of Clans, such as expanding protests into street mobilization against the regime's suppressive militia forces, is raising concerns among Iranian officials. Last month, Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander in Gilan Province in the north launched security drills to "confront the internal turmoil for the unanticipated crisis." Another IRGC commander in Arak, central Iran, said this maneuver is to defend the regime from any internal terrorist attack.
As American novelist Scott Spencer aptly said: "The trouble with excuses, however, is that they become inevitably difficult to believe after they've been used a couple of times."
Hassan Mahmoudi is a human rights advocate and social media journalist seeking democracy for Iran and peace for the region.