Anonymous, 18 Sep 2019
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The Virtual Ulama: Dissent, Internet and Shi‘i Clerics in Post-revolutionary Iran

The Virtual Ulama: Dissent, Internet and Shi‘i Clerics in Post-revolutionary Iran

An attempt is made to study the political impact of Internet on Shi‘i Iran since the mid-1990s, when the new information technology was first introduced to post-revolutionary Iran. The study underlines the ways in which Shi‘I groups of various political factions, while guided under the spiritual leadership of diverse Grand Ayatollahs based in Qom and Najaf, have used the new information technology to carve out new spaces of dissent against the Iranian theocracy since the election of the reformist cleric, Mohammad Khatami, in 1997. Based on interviews in Iran and text analysis of websites, the study examines Shi‘i cyber activism in terms of a new political discourse of selfhood, piety, politics and spiritual authority. The study looks at Internet in three significant phases of development: First, the “reformist period,”. the second phase is referred to as “Najaf period,” and the third stage, the “Green period,” is identified here in close connection with the turmoil following the disputed 2009 Presidential Elections.

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eng