Instagram is down amid protests in Iran | Pro IQRA News

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Dubai: Iranians’ access to Instagram, one of the few Western social media platforms still available in the country, was cut off on Wednesday after days of mass protests over the death of a woman who was detained by morality police.

NetBlocks, a London-based group that monitors access to the Internet, reported massive outages. Witnesses in Iran, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons, said they were unable to log in using cellphones or home connections.

Iranian authorities have not commented on the Instagram outages, which would have limited protesters’ ability to organize and share information.

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Iran already blocks Facebook, Telegram, Twitter and YouTube, although senior Iranian officials use public accounts on such platforms. Many Iranians circumvent the bans by using virtual private networks, known as VPNs, and proxies.

Also, the website of the Central Bank of Iran was briefly shut down on Wednesday as hackers claimed to have attacked the websites of several Iranian government agencies. Later, the official websites of the president and supreme leader of Iran are down.

The apparent cyber attack comes amid days of protests over the death of a woman who was detained by the country’s morality police for allegedly wearing her Islamic headscarf too loosely. It also happened a few hours before Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s speech at the UN General Assembly.

Central bank spokesman Mostafa Kamariwafa denied the bank itself had been hacked, saying only that the website was down due to an attack on the server hosting it, in comments carried by the official IRNA news agency. Later, the site was restored.

The website of the Ministry of Culture was also unavailable on Wednesday afternoon.

Hackers linked to the shadowy Anonymous movement said they attacked other Iranian state agencies, including state television and the office of the presidential press secretary.

In recent years, Iran has become the target of several cyber attacks.

In February, dissident hackers posted an anti-government message on a website that broadcasts state television programs. Last year, an online group published footage from Iran’s infamous Evin prison, which it claimed was hacked.

Later that year, a cyber attack blew up gas stations across the country, creating long lines of angry motorists who had been unable to get subsidized fuel for days. The messages that accompanied the attack appeared to refer to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Other attacks Iran accuses Israel of targeting its nuclear program and industrial facilities.

Iranians have been protesting for days over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old girl who was arrested by the morality police last week. Police say she died of a heart attack and was not abused, but her family has disputed that, saying she had no prior heart problems and that they were not allowed to see her body.

The UN human rights office says the morality police have stepped up operations in recent months and resorted to more violent methods, including slapping women, beating them with batons and pushing them into police cars.

Amina’s funeral on Saturday sparked protests in the western Kurdish region where she hails from, which later spread across the country and reached the capital, Tehran. Protesters clashed with police and chanted against the Islamic Republic itself.

Raisi called for an investigation into Amini’s death. Iranian officials have blamed the protests on unnamed foreign countries, which they believe are trying to incite unrest.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made no mention of the protests during a meeting Wednesday with veterans of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war.

Iran has seen waves of protests in recent years, mainly due to a long economic crisis exacerbated by Western sanctions over its nuclear program.

The Biden administration and European allies have been working to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, under which Iran curbed its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, but talks have been deadlocked for months.

In a speech at the United Nations, Raisi said Iran was committed to restoring the nuclear deal, but questioned whether he could trust America’s commitment to any deal.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. It began ramping up its nuclear activities after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 accord, and experts say it now likely has enough highly enriched uranium to make a bomb if it chooses to do so.

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