Apple’s iPhone banned to silence reports of violence against protestors in Syria’s Arab Spring revolt
The Syrian government has banned the use of iPhones in the country, it has been reported.
The customs department of the Syrian finance ministry released a statement which said: “The authorities warn anyone against using the iPhone in Syria,” the Lebanese website Al Nashara reported Friday. The government, which previously shut down networks during protests, has also prohibited the import of iPhones.
The iPhone has been “prohibited due to the forbidden features that have been banned by the general telecommunications company,” said a Sky News report – but the statement does not reveal what those features are. It also states that iPhones will be seized.
This crackdown on technology comes amid reports of abuses by Syrian authorities in response to protests against President Assad, which began in March. These protests, begun as part of the so-called Arab Spring, are estimated to have so far led to the deaths of more than 4,000 people , including over 300 children.
While most foreign media has been barred from the country, opposition activists have been posting footage of government violence online, according to Haaretz. “It is enough for any tourist or guest visiting Syria to own an iPhone to be a spy suspect,” one Syrian activist told Haaretz on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
Sky also added that Facebook and Twitter have been used by activists to expose the actions of the state. It added that an iPhone and iPad app called Souria Wa Bas was launched in November, which “features links for news, videos, a map of opposition hot spots, and jokes about Assad.” The app also allows protesters to report from inside the country.
In addition to the number killed, tens of thousands have been arrested since March, when a public uprising began across Syria. More than 14,000 are reported to be in detention as a result of the crackdown, at least 12,400 have sought refuge in neighbouring countries and tens of thousands have been internally displaced, said the United Nations in a statement condemning the state-sponsored violence in that country.
According to a BBC report, no other smartphone brand has been affected by the ban.