tehranbureau An independent source of news on Iran and the Iranian diaspora

'God has liberated SMS,' but targets satellite dishes

02 Jul 2009 17:3123 Comments

Dispatch from Tehran | 2 July 2009

[TEHRAN BUREAU] Government officials are asking residents in north and northwest Tehran to choose: either keep their much prized -- but illegal -- satellite dishes, or continue chanting, "Allah o Akbar!" or "God is Great," the revolutionary slogan piercing the capital every night, but not both.

Since the brutal crackdown on protesters after the June 12 presidential election and the information blackout that followed, electronic signals have been in high demand. More than ever, Iranians want their Internet, text messaging, BBC and Voice of America, which come flowing through satellite dishes strategically located on rooftops across the city.

"Though officially banned, unofficially everyone has them," one resident said.

Tehran's high-rises, which dominate the skyline, are particularly well suited to house central satellite systems and provide coverage from up high. In recent weeks, officials have struggled to come up with new ways to cope with unwanted signals beaming news from Britain's BBC Persian Service and the U.S.-funded VOA.

In central parts of the city, officials have simply entered residential buildings, hiked up the stairs and removed satellite dishes. As soon as they leave, however, building managers have reported calling their "dish guy to come and install a new one and also to give them an upgrade," according to a resident in Tehran, who spoke to several of them.

To cover the cost, building managers have posted notes in their buildings explaining the situation and asking residents to chip in to cover fee hikes.

In yet other parts of town, officers have shown more initiative: bargaining with residents. In north and northwest Tehran some residents have been ordered to choose between keeping their satellite dishes or taking part in the "Allah o Akbar" chant that takes place every night from city rooftops and windows.

The message is simple: "We'll let you watch your CNN, your BBC, and your favorite entertainment shows, as long as you do not join the 10 p.m. chorus!"

"People will probably say they want their satellite television, but continue shouting 'Allah o Akbar,' anyway," remarked an Iranian expat who lived through the revolution.

For now, the SMS text message ban has been lifted and is back in service. One of the first one-liners to circulate: "God has liberated SMS," a play on the well known, "God liberated Khorramshahr," banner headline celebrating the return of the largest Iranian city from Iraqi occupation during the war in the 1980s.

For now anyway, the dishes remain in place. Many continue to watch and listen to different television and radio programs. And for now, committed to good customer service, the dish guys rush from home to home, building to building, and high-rise to high-rise responding to their calling customers.

Politics has certainly been good for business.

Copyright (c) 2009 Tehran Bureau


Basij militiaman to driver: "Your breath smells of Allah o Akbar." The chant of Alloh o Akbar, which helped bring down the Shah 30 years ago, is now being chanted every night in protest of the current government. Cartoon by Nik Kowsar, Roozonline.com

SHAREtwitterfacebookSTUMBLEUPONbalatarin reddit digg del.icio.us


Thank you

seth / July 2, 2009 1:40 PM

Fascinating! That's really a tough choice. It's like choosing between one freedom or another, and if you lose one, you've almost made a bargain with the devil and lost part of your soul. The freedom of voice or the freedom of information???

Sarah Supernova / July 2, 2009 1:47 PM

This is great!!! From the U.S.A... GO IRAN!!

GO IRAN!!!!! / July 2, 2009 1:47 PM

continue the fight, we are with you, blessings to all of you

treppab / July 2, 2009 1:54 PM

i am totaly sure that if people in some magical way could see news from their shoes, the regime would try to collect all shoes as well :X

Vaggelis / July 2, 2009 1:56 PM

An obvious sign of blackmailing. This regime is coming to its end. The trust and their reputation is gone- in and especially out of Iran! Gladly, after the election, the regime's shows it's face to the world. Everywhere people and news are talking about the distinguishment between the regime and the iranian people. People's couragous actions attracted a large amount of interest from the foreign countries. Now they're all talking about iranian's bravery. The people in Iran gained lots of respect in the past couple weeks through their actions. It's well known to the world, they're asking for freedom and human rights.God help you all.

Jaslin / July 2, 2009 1:56 PM

I hope the brave people of Iran know how many of us support them! We will never forget your courageous struggle for freedom.

wanderene / July 2, 2009 2:32 PM

I chant back to my brothers and sisters in Iran, "Alloh o Akbar!" Fight on!

Matthew / July 2, 2009 2:32 PM

Big Brother is coming to take your satellite dishes. And they think that's going to work? That's just going to make everyone angrier. Meanwhile, the world is still watching, and we support the Iranian people's fight for freedom.

Heidi / July 2, 2009 2:54 PM

My hopes for you are great, please stay safe and stay loud!

Clay / July 2, 2009 2:58 PM

keeep going you people. i never pray, but i pray for you every day. you decide in what kind of society you want to live. not the west. not your authorities. It all about what you do. democracy has many faces but only one voice: the voice of the people. you are the people.

mark / July 2, 2009 3:59 PM

Here in Europe we all support your cause and we condammn those criminals that are hiding behind a religion cause!



Dr. Capodiferro / July 2, 2009 4:44 PM

Against any repression. freedom for the Iranian people.

Federica / July 2, 2009 5:11 PM


if you are interested




you can do some of this.

because "They" can't club You to death

if u r not there,in Iran.

If they can't protest in Iran,

Then we can pick up their Ball

and carry on their protest for them, from the outside.

That way we can Keep the pressure on the

Oppressive regime BIG TIME.

If you do something, even if it is only

a little bit, it will help you feel less

helpless; a little less upset, and a tiny bit calmer.

and maybe you will meet a few compatriots.

V V Iran ---- Remember Neda.

Every teeny tiny little bit We do will help.

and we don't have to do it all, individually,

(they is an easy way to NOT do anything )

Let's Us all work together to keep the Pressure on.

There are broken and Batter Youngsters in Iran who are

hanging on by a thread and Who are depending upon you(Us) to

hold on to the other end of that thread..... to keep them alive.

Save a life in Iran, do something, even if it is small a small thing.

Wear a touch of green; put up a Green "WHERE'S MY VOTE" poster.

Print out one (or more) and put it in your window; Give one to a friend.

If we accomplish something NOW; then we will not have to

deal with something much more complex and difficult later.

This is NOT Just an Iranian problem, It is an International Issue.

PS:[I would like to see this little Video go "Viral" and become International

You can help with that; and it does not require a major effort on your part. ]

Let Us Nip it in the Bud.




These Youngsters are taking it upon them selves to DO SOMETHING.

and that thing can also embolden their own governments too.

Because the will see that they have the support of their own populace.


(I'm trying to get this Video to go "Viral" please distribute it as much as u can. thank you )

Klay / July 2, 2009 6:49 PM

Twenty-one years ago, no one could comprehend that the wall that split Europe could ever fall down, but one year later, due to the will of the people and an inept government minister in the DDR it did. The Iranian people have a long and illustrious history as one of the world's oldest civilisations and deserve better than to be run by a bunch of ideological bigots who can't see the wood for the trees, just like the old East German regime

May God light your way to freedom!


Dave Smith / July 2, 2009 7:08 PM




shetty / July 3, 2009 3:21 AM

Don't forget about the jamming of signals. VOA, BBC both jammed. How do you get around that?

Bill / July 3, 2009 7:28 AM

to dave smith: you are right. i know you are, cause i was there, when die ddr-regime came to fall. in many ways the situation in iran seems similar. for change through protest you need a political frame, where the authorities claim wanting to avoid violence on a large scale and democray is at least proclaimed to be reality. if people then go ahead by the millions and "simply" demand what is proclaimed - the system can be changed. in the ddr (gdr) THE PEOPLE managed a revolution without a single shot - but i believe we would have suceeded even if people would have get shot.

to the protesters: please excuses me for beeing a little wiseass. i dont want to give you lessons - cause history never comes along twice. but it is sometimes the experience of the past that can lead others into their future. i gues you have to find your own way to freedom - but it might be nice to know the whole map.


back in 1989 we shoutet: we are the people (see my post above). it was just a slogan - but it burned its way into the heart of the masses. the reason: these four words took away the legitimation from a goverment that promised to act in the name of THE PEOPLE. We said: we don't need you; we need only us. And thus any authority that we don't acknowledge - has no legitimation. As far as i know you shout: God ist great. How about adding a slight change to the slogan, that might acually reflect your situation quite right: "God is great - AND HE IS WITH US."

what do you think: as far as i would judge: god is allways with the brave. he never stands on the side of oppression.

all the best to you. stay alive. stay brave.

Mark from Berlin (Germany)

Mark / July 3, 2009 7:40 AM

We, the Creole People in the US stand behind the Iranian people in their quest for freedom.

CreolePeoplein US / July 3, 2009 10:06 AM

You are fighting for your freedom as you claim hare , at the same time you do not post the replay that is not agreeing with you ...

Do not forget that Iran is a third world country and they have the best avaialable Democracy in the standards of that region ...

Farhood / July 3, 2009 12:00 PM

I just wanted to mention that the picture is not related to Tehran, the picture is taken in Demascus, capital of Syria

Hossein / July 6, 2009 8:52 PM

Thanks, I'll change the photo.

tehranbureau / July 6, 2009 9:08 PM

Winning requires simply persistence, never giving up, continually seeking justice and recognition.

God IS great, and loves the Iranian people.

History is full of unfair governments being thrown out by those oppressed, when those people reached the point of recognition of their oppression, when they saw their votes defrauded and their freedoms banned:

No assembling;

No free speech;

No free press.

All of which has happened in Iran.

How DARE the government ban the people's right of assembly!?!

How DARE teh government ban free speech!?!

How DARE the government ban a free press and media!?!

These are things done by a government afraid of its people, not one that represents its people.

Only tyrants and despots who have done something (stolen the election) which they need to hide from the people do these things, and, with rare, temporary exceptions, these attempts all fail.

They fail because the people will remember, and will start to organize forces that will eventually change the government to better represent the will of the people.

I pray that such organization and change happens without mayhem, torture, pain and death, but history teaches us that such is rarely the case.

Our hearts are with you, people of Iran.

The world wants to share friendship and exchange of all kinds with you, and we will not only watch, but will do what we can to help you.

God is Great, and loves the people of Iran.

Roger / July 7, 2009 4:55 PM