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Thursday 31 July  
satirical Iranian Facebook page
Jannie Schipper's picture
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Hilversum, Netherlands
Hilversum, Netherlands

Iran seizes father for son's Facebook posts

Published on : 2 July 2012 - 12:15pm | By Jannie Schipper (RNW)
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An Iranian student in the Netherlands says his satirical posts on Facebook have led to the arrest of his father in Iran. Yashar Khameneh fears his father will be executed. ‘I never thought they would lay a finger on him,’ Yashar told Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

On the satirical web page ‘Campaign to remind Shi'ites of Imam Naghi’ (link: https://www.facebook.com/Emam.Naghi), contributors comment on religious, political and social topics. Not everyone is a fan, says Yashar. ‘We wanted to break the taboo on religion. Many people in Iran have strict religious views and do not tolerate laughing about faith. But we don't insult anyone; we just want people to be more open-minded. In Europe, jokes are told about Christianity and Judaism.’

Yashar joined under his real name, but within a few weeks he began posting anonymously. That appears to have been a costly error. ‘We didn't realise the site would become so popular,’ he says. ‘And I thought: I'm in the Netherlands, so they won't be able to trace what I write back to me.’ Yashar is studying International Business Management at the Dutch university in Eindhoven. Since enrolling in 2009, he has been home to visit Iran twice. He applied to the Dutch government for asylum in February this year.

Cyber security
‘I never planned to remain in the Netherlands and I was never politically active in Iran,’ says Yashar. But after he began posting on the Facebook site he quickly noticed threatening signals. ‘Spies were setting up false profiles on the site and using them to gather information on active members.’

In May, the Iranian authorities showed up at Yashar's parents’ home. ‘It appears that his father is being held by the security wing of the Revolutionary Guard,’ says UK-based Iranian human rights lawyer Shadi Sadr. The guard set up a cyber intelligence unit three years ago and ever since they have been going after internet activists, Sabr explains.

Threat of execution
‘The Revolutionary Guard are the worst,’ says Sadr. They are known for producing false confessions which are then used to convict perceived enemies of the regime. The lawyer believes Yashar's father will be charged with financing anti-Islamic activities. ‘That could get him the death penalty,’ Sadr adds.

‘My father has nothing to do with it,’ Yashar says. ‘He merely paid for my studies in the Netherlands.’

‘We are seeing that more and more often. People are being punished via their family members,’ says journalist Lida Hosseini Nejad of Radio Zamaneh, a Persian radio station in Amsterdam. She points to a recent case of Iranian BBC journalists whose families are being put under pressure in Iran.

Yashar says his father telephoned and pleaded with him to provide the Iranian authorities with passwords and other information. But he refused, ‘because they would have arrested my father anyway.’ He says Teheran is wrongly accusing him of being the manager of the critical website. ‘But the manager is in Iran, at least he says so. We don't know each other personally,’ says Yashar. ‘I asked him by e-mail to shut down the site but he says that won't help my father.’

No consular help from the Netherlands

Lawyer Sadr is calling on the Dutch government to do all it can for Yashar. The foreign affairs ministry in The Hague tells Radio Netherlands Worldwide it is still trying to verify Yashar's story through EU member states' representatives in Teheran. The ministry says it has received no official request for aid from Yashar or his family. Because he is not a Dutch national, the ministry says, the Dutch embassy does not have the authority to lend his family consular assistance.

‘The Iranian government insists that I come explain what I have done,’ says Yashar. ‘But I won't do that, of course, because I know exactly what would happen. It wouldn't save my father, and I certainly wouldn't survive either.’

  • Yashar Khameneh and his father<br>&copy; Yashar Khameneh - https://www.rnw.nl

Discussion

BATMAN47 3 October 2012 - 3:13am / USA

Peace through Strength http://www.uscarrierhistory.com
WAR with Iran is a certainty.

Anonymous 6 July 2012 - 4:20pm / USA

So many super-sensitive people.

Ever notice how it's world leaders or community leaders who do the punishing for offending their god?

If your god is all-powerful, true, and real, then your god can show up and do the punishing.

Of course, that will never happen. Gods are in place in a successful effort to keep the people fearful, obedient, generous, and to prevent them from killing the king. In some modern cases, to protect the rich.

Idiots. All of you; asleep while your lives are wasted by people who take more and more from you. How sad you are. Pathetic sheep.

i Shia 3 July 2012 - 7:13pm / USA

It is unfortunate that Yashar Khameneh, play with Shia faith in iran and other countries. If you hate Iran that does not mean you have to hate Iranian believe and faith. by creating this picture you just told everyone that you have problem with Shia faith and that come with concequenses that you would face here and there. Please change your face book page and make fun of Government not he religion. Religion does not have anything to do with what government doing in Iran. Think before you act!!!

Anonymous 8 July 2012 - 5:28pm

The religion is the driving force behind the government. Go to Iran and tell everyone that Allah is evil and they will show you how much you are right. It will be in the name of allah when they hang you.

Babak 4 July 2012 - 12:03am

Are you joking? what Iran's leaders are doing now is completely Islamic.

kooshan 3 July 2012 - 2:46pm

HELLOOOO ! why you don't correct your mistake? In English our language is called 'Persian'.

Yashar 3 July 2012 - 2:52pm / Canada`

I guess they're still asleep!

user avatar
Jannie Schipper 4 July 2012 - 11:08am

Hi Yashar, Kooshan, yes I was still sleeping :-) (no of course, but sometimes journalists are busy with other things and don't constantly check their website) Both 'Persian' and 'Farsi' are accepted in English, though it is true that Persian is more widely used. Some linguists prefer to use the term Farsi to distinguish modern Persian from old Persian and other languages. But as you are the Persian/Farsi speakers and prefer the term Persian, I will change it in this article.

Anonymous 8 July 2012 - 5:30pm

Don't change it. You are correct. Farsi is acceptable. If you are wrong change it and if you are correct, don't change it.

Babak 6 July 2012 - 11:12pm

thanks Jannie for your note. Actually all Persian language scholars have rejected the usage of Fa... instead of "Persian" in English. It's similar to say "Do you Speak Nederlands?"! - look how strange it sounds :) [instead of "Do you speak Dutch?"]
Thanks for correcting the piece.

Yashar 3 July 2012 - 11:30am / Canada

Please refer to the Persian language by its proper term: PERSIAN

Lida Hosseini Nejad 3 July 2012 - 11:15am

His name is : Yashar Khameneh NOT ZAMANEH!

Babak 3 July 2012 - 1:53am

The family name of the man is KHAMENEH, not ZAMANEH. Zamaneh is the Persian radio station in A'dam! LOL.

user avatar
Jannie Schipper 3 July 2012 - 9:58am

Ooops, thanks a lot for your comment. I corrected the name (of course we do know Yashar's family name is Khameneh, the Z just slipped in because of the confusion with the radio station which is mentioned later in the text. Thanks for keeping us awake :-)

Babak 3 July 2012 - 10:41am

You are very welcome. The 2nd mistake has occurred on the 8th paragraph. Iran's official language in English is called "Persian". The term you have used is the native name of the language; like Nederlands vs. Dutch. We do not say "Nederlandse language" in English! Thanks.

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