Saturday, 20 November 2010

Nazi-Zionist innuendo

In some circles this exclusive blog post from Barry Rubin, an Israeli author, has caused a certain level of comment. It claims that the site is run by the Iranian Government (or at least is helped by them).

Now, if you have a look at the site even if you don't know any Persian, like me and Rubin, with an automatic translator you can be certain of one thing. It's surely a site of people who like all things about the III Reich and it's wildly amateur night. Starting from the flag on the top of the page[*] (a Hitlerjugend banner, the nazi youth organisation), down to the profile photos and avatars of the members. There are sites like this everywhere in the world, except in those european countries which explicitly ban them. One can be for or against them, but to think that a government would actually run such a site is an insult to the intelligence of the reader.

The main 'proof' put against by Mr. Rubin is his translation from one of the first lines of the homepage "این تارنما طبق قوانین جمهوری اسلامی ایران و تحت نظارت کارگروه رسانه های دیجیتال وزارت فرهنگ و ارشاد جمهوری اسلامی فعالیت می کند .". According to Rubin it means ""This website is under Islamic Republic of Iran laws and it is under the supervision of the working committee on Digital Media of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance." Now, that English is slightly broken: I think that Rubin has read the site with an automatic translator, and has adjusted the words to what he actually aimed to "research". A much better translation, I've asked around, would read: "The site is under (i.e. it follows) the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran and of the digital media workgroup of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance."

Now, Internet censorship in Iran is a real problem. As you can read here every site in Iran must be registered with the iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. That means that you must log to their website and register you site. There is also a form to look for registered sites, and shows up. That phrase is simply a disclaimer, like many sites sport, also in western countries. Because of silly Italian laws many blogs like mine often have one of two lines of legalese stating that one's blog is not a regular ..printed periodical, for example. It is highly unlikely, however, that an army of bespectaled guardians of the revolution is at work cataloguing each and every iranian webpage... Filtering from the outside to iran is a much more serious issue.

I think that the author Barry Rubin, who claims to run a research center and asks for money to support it, should do better research. Let's look at his technical insights showing how that amateurish site is linked to the iranian gov't...

Rubin: >The site is registered to this place under the IRNIC, Iran's domain manager and an arm of the government. is not 'an arm of the government', is simply a .ir domain reseller which comfortably accepts paypal and major credit cards. The government arm is the .ir tld registry : that's the central institution owning the national tld. National top level domains are centrally run, in most cases, by ..government institutions. Incredible.

Rubin:>It is owned by a company in Isfahan.

Indeed, domains are owned by companies or persons all over the world. Domains that are not owned, are usually not yet registered. In many cases domains pertaining to one nation's tld are owned by companies of that country, but that of course doesn't imply government recognition. is not an Italian gov't site, for example.

Rubin:> There is also evidence, however, that the site goes through a server in Arizona. The Phoenix hosting company is called

As Mr. Rubin's link shows, is hosted by an american ISP. Probably cheaper than Iranian companies. So what? I live in Florence, I could buy webspace in the US, or Germany, does that make my page involved with the White House or the Reichstag? Total nonsense.

Rubin: >This doesn't prove, however, that the site is not sponsored by the Iranian government. It does go out on the state-controlled server.

It doesn't prove, however, that the site is not sponsored by little green men, too. It DOESN'T go out on any 'state controlled server' no more that any site with a national tld domain, as any barely internet savvy person can confirm.

In other words, this is non-news. Innuendo purposedly written to put Iranians in a bad light. Nazi sympathiser/aficionados are everywhere. Even in Israel. Here you can find a rather more honest article on the same case, which doesn't however resist the temptation to involve the Iranian government. One could simply ask: if they have their pages in the US, they could as well have bought a .com o .net domain, right? And then the ICANN would have been accused of nazi sympathising ? Sheesh.

* UPDATE: the banner (and the Uncle Adolf photo as well as the marching stormtroopers) are gone, substituted with less provocative images. I think that there is also a rejection of rumours circulated in the press, a few lines below...

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