According to a US government estimate, there are as many as 14 million Facebook users inside of Iran despite Facebook being blocked for use by Iranian service providers. One of those users is none other than Mrs. Naeimeh Eshraghi, granddaughter of the late Grand Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic.
The Khomeinis are no strangers to modern technology, and Iranian revolutionaries famously smuggled tape recordings of the Grand Ayatollah’s speeches held in Najaf, Iraq, into Iran, in an attempt to mobilize the Iranian public to rise against the Shah.
Mrs. Eshraghi’s use of Facebook is in the spirit of her grandfather: She not only challenges the monopoly of the state over mass communication through her Facebook profile, she also publicly defends her use of filter busters in order to circumvent the regime’s attempt at keeping the network outside the reach of the public.
In a frank interview with Asriran.com, Mrs. Eshraghi, who has a degree in petrochemical engineering, explains that she joined Facebook four years ago to find her old friends but also found new ones, now reaching 5,000 after she declared herself an opponent of compulsory hijab for women in an interview with the Jamaran website.
Apart from new friends, Mrs. Eshraghi has also reached new insights through Facebook:
“For someone like me who grew up under special circumstances and did not have the opportunity to establish truthful face to face relations, it has been most pleasant to get to know the different layers of society,” she explains and continues: “People have on some occasions got close to us for certain reasons and distanced themselves from us for other reasons none of which have been real. Facebook has provided me with the opportunity to have friends who [befriend me] without concern or sycophancy.”
In the Asriran interview, Mrs. Eshraghi stops short of apologizing for her grandfather’s reign of terror, but recognizes that there are some who were “wronged,” and she allows commentary against Grand Ayatollah Khomeini on her Facebook profile. This is much more than what can be said of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Maybe Ayatollah Khamenei should follow the example of Mrs. Eshraghi and register a profile on Facebook to get acquainted with the Iranian nation.