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Iran: “Soldiers of Islam” Hack Cartoonist's Facebook Page

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Iran, Arts & Culture, Citizen Media, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech

[1]The Facebook page of a leading Iranian leading cartoonist, Mana Nayestani [1], was hacked on Tuesday, 11 September 2012, by pro-regime hackers who call themselves “Soldiers of Islam”. The hackers celebrated their action on their own Facebook page (now removed) by posting [2] the following message: “Thanks to God, we conquered Mana Nayestani’s Facebook account.”

On Nayestani's page the group posted several cartoons and images against countries including the United States, Israel and Canada. Nayestani is a very popular cartoonist and his fan page has about 70,000 “likes”. Global Voices has published [3] several of his cartoons and covered [4] his arrest over a controversial cartoon in Spring 2006.

One of the hackers’ cartoons is about Canada's decision [5] to sever diplomatic relations with Iran. It's titled “The impact of the Canadian embassy's closure on Iran” and shows it as being irrelevant:

With another cartoon they ask why the news media cover Syria but not Bahrain?

One of the reasons that Mana Nayestani's page was chosen by pro regime hackers may be because of his political cartoons on Iranian sites such as Mardomak [6]. One of his recent cartoons is about the Non-Aligned Summit [7] in Tehran, published [8] on Mardomak:

Hacking opposition sites and blogs is not a new tactic. Before, the Soldiers of Islam appeared, the Iranian Cyber Army successfully targeted [9] websites in several countries, illustrating that the internet truly has no borders, and that even big-name websites such as Twitter can be fragile against unknown attackers.

The hacking of Facebook pages, jailing of cartoonists and other kind of repression have failed to curb desires for freedom of expression in Iran, both online and offline.