Iran launches an Islamic alternative to YouTube
Agence France-Presse in Tehran
Iran has launched its own video-sharing website to compete against Google's YouTube, whose content is deemed inappropriate by the Islamic regime, state television reported.
The website is called "Mehr" (www.mehr.ir), meaning affection in Farsi, and aims to attract Persian-speaking users and also promote Iranian culture, according to its About Us page.
"From now on, people can upload their short films on the website and access (IRIB) produced material," Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting deputy chief Lotfollah Siahkali said on Sunday.
A Facebook page dedicated to Mehr is providing links to some of its content, including music clips produced in Iran.
Iran has consistently censored YouTube since mid-2009, in the wake of the disputed elections that returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.
It has also been trying to stop its population accessing a number of foreign websites authorities see as undermining the Islamic regime, including popular social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, as well as the online pages of many Western media outlets, blogs and pornographic hubs.
The United States accuses Iran of seeking to implement an "electronic curtain" to cut its citizens off from the world. It has imposed sanctions on the regime involved in the censorship.
The announcement came amid first steps by the Islamic republic to establish a walled-off national intranet separate from the worldwide internet. Iran says its national intranet would be clean of un-Islamic content. Authorities claim the "National Internet" would not cut access to the internet.
Many web users in Iran - half of whose population of 75 million are connected to the internet - are used to getting around the censorship through the use of software known as a virtual private network (VPN), whose sale is illegal in Iran.