Syrian government reportedly bans use of Apple iPhone
The Syrian government has reportedly banned the use of the Apple iPhone in an effort to prevent activists from documenting the ongoing uprising in that country and government violence against protesters.
Activists in Beirut were notified of the iPhone ban in a letter from the Syrian Finance Ministry that reads "the authorities warn anyone against using the iPhone in Syria," according to reports from the Haaretz newspaper in Israel and the U.S. website the Next Web (which quoted the Lebanese site El Nashara).
Since the Syrian protests began Jan. 26, opposition groups -- who are calling for political reform and the ouster of President Bashar Assad, an increase in civil and human rights and a democratic government -- have used devices such as smartphones to document online, in photos and video, the government's violent response to their actions.
The United Nations has said that more than 4,000 people have been killed in Syria since major protests began in March and fears of civil war have arisen as well.
According to Ria Novosi, a Russian news site, protest groups have built and distributed an iPhone app, called Syria Alone, that offers independent news reports and "a collection of videos and jokes" that mock Assad.
According to both Haaretz and the Next Web, no other smartphones have been banned yet. But unnamed protesters reportedly did say, in both reports, that the ban has made it so that "it is enough for any tourist or guest visiting Syria to own an iPhone to be a spy suspect."
In the Haaretz report, a protester added that "Steve Jobs must be turning in his grave on learning that his iconic device is banned in his home country."
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Pro-Syrian regime demonstrators gather in Damascus on Dec. 2 during a rally against sanctions by the European Union against the Syrian government. A banner of President Bashar Assad hangs from a building. Credit: Bassem Tellawi / Associated Press