Amid growing unrest, Iran restricts access to Instagram, WhatsApp

Iran curbed access on Wednesday to Meta Platforms’ (META.O) Instagram and WhatsApp, two of the last remaining social networks in the country, amid protests over the death of a woman in police custody, residents and internet watchdog NetBlocks said.

NetBlocks also reported a “nation-scale loss of connectivity” on Iran’s mail mobile telephone provider and another company’s network.

WhatsApp’s servers have been disrupted on multiple internet providers, hours after Instagram’s services were blocked, London-based NetBlocks said.

The group’s data shows a near-total disruption to internet service in parts of Kurdistan province in west Iran since Monday, while the capital city of Tehran and other parts of the country have also faced disruptions since Friday when protests first broke out.

Last week’s death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police in Tehran for “unsuitable attire”, has unleashed anger over issues including freedom in the Islamic Republic and an economy reeling from sanctions. Protests began on Saturday at Amini’s funeral in her home town near the Iraqi border and soon spread across the country to the central cities of Isfahan and Tehran, where female protesters were female protesters were seen cutting their hair and burning their headscarves in the street.

Security forces have been accused of firing directly at protesters as part of a clampdown blamed for the deaths of at least six people. In addition, scores of people have been injured, including a ten-year-old girl who was shot in the head.

At the UN yesterday, James Cleverely, the foreign secretary, called on Iran to take “another path” referring to its aspirations of nuclear weapons and its internal repression.

Image Credit: Alexander Shatov on Unsplash