, TEHRAN, Iran, Sep 22 – Eleven Iranians accused of sending insulting SMS text messages about Islamic republic founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini have been arrested in the southern province of Shiraz, a newspaper reported on Monday.
“After monitoring social network applications on mobile phones like WhatsApp, Viber, Line and Tango… 11 people were arrested,” the provincial Revolutionary Guards chief, General Esmail Mohebipour, said.
“They recognised the error of their ways,” the Haft e-Sobh daily cited the general as saying.
On Saturday, Iran’s judiciary issued a one-month ultimatum for the government to ban such social networking apps, in a move that would boost existing restrictions on Internet use.
The ultimatum came after the discovery of messages criticising Khomeini.
Local media reports said similar messages had also been sent about current officials in the Iranian government, including supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“We firmly believe that criminal content on social networks must be blocked, but banning these networks is another story,”
Telecommunications Minister Mahmoud Vaezi was quoted by Fars news agency as saying.
He added that the ministry’s engineers were working on ways to remove “criminal” content.