Human Rights and Police in Iran

Background: In 2011, police in the streets of Iran began to engage with demonstrators, which according to MacFarquhar and Cowell (2011) involved about 20, 000 to 30, 000 protestors. The article in the New York Times stated that the protests were an embarrassment to the country’s leaders because they aimed to show that they had control and support for Islam in the Arab world, unlike the events that were taking place in Egypt and Tunisia. The Iranian government warned journalists and photographers against taking pictures and reporting on the situation in the country.

It was difficult to acquire accurate information during the protests due to the ban (MacFarquhar and Cowell, 2011). In the city of Cairo, Egypt, the situation was almost similar.

Thousands of protestors filled Alexandria and Cairo in 2011, as the people engaged with police and security forces from the government (Human Rights Watch, 2011).

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The purpose of the protests was to take down the tyrannical government led by Hosni Mubarak. In an effort to hide the events, the government shut down the Internet and most mobile networks.

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They ordered the army to enforce a curfew, preventing demonstrators from communicating and networking. Furthermore, the police detained several journalists caught covering the protests. On January 28, 2011, police beat a BBC reporter, arrested several journalists, and seized a camera from a CNN crew (Human Rights Watch, 2011). The government did its best, including applying excessive force to prevent protestors from congregating. The media blackout was designed to interrupt planned matches, mask the police torture of citizens and protestors, and to gag the dissent (Human Rights Watch, 2011).

Problem Statement: The Arab Uprising was a revolutionary move against oppressive governance and dictatorship. The protests began in Tunisia and spewed to other Islam-Arab countries, including Egypt and Iran. One of the tactics used by the governments to disrupt protests and to silence the people was through control of the mass media, censorship, and shutting down of the Internet. Protestors found ways to communicate online through social media, which at the time was advantageous, but with the lack of mainstream media, organizing the protests and advocating change was a problem. In addition, this limited accountability and justice for the human rights violations perpetrated by law enforcement.

Purpose of the Study: The aim of this study is to investigate the impact of news during the 2011 protests in Iran and Egypt. The existing information shows that mass media was an unreliable source of news during the period due to state control and coercion of the press by law enforcement, which acted under the directives of the state. This must have had an effect on the protests and protestors. In addition, reports show that despite government attempts to shut down the Internet and cellphone networks, protestors were able to communicate and share information online through Twitter and Facebook. The study will look at the influence social media had on the protest in both countries.

Research Question

RQ1: What were the effects of state control on mass media communication in Iran and Egypt in 2011?

RQ2: How did the lack of a stable or reliable press influence the protests and protestors during the demonstration period?

RQ3: What influence did social media technology have on the protest and protestors?

Significance of the Study: The press is a powerful tool. Its main function is to support accountability and encourage transparency in a nation. It bridges the communication gap between the public and the government. During the Iran and Egypt protests, the state leaders decided to censor and control press coverage of events, which had a significant effect on communication. On the other hand, social media played an active role in communication, which portrays this technology as a powerful developing instrument in media communication. By conducting this study, the information gathered will help show the importance of journalism in a country and the developing necessity of social media in political communication.

Literature Review: The press plays several important roles in a society. Baran and Davis (2015) list several functions of the media in a society. They say that media is a powerful force that can subvert essential norms and values, leading to social change. Secondly, media influences the minds of average people, changing their view of the world. This is true. Media is a rhetorical artifact of the society, which reflects the community values, beliefs, and customs.

Additionally, it is the main source of information and avenue of communication with other publics and the government. From a political point of view, the press acts as a watchdog that supports accountability and motivates transparency by the government. In democratic governments, the press ensures that governments fulfill their duties to the people by tracking state operations and reporting on the progress. The press also raises awareness on issues regarding corruption, violation of human rights, misuse of public funds, and other actions that might not portray the government as an effective one.

For instance, in the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, political corruption, and the rise of the Civil Rights Movement in America, journalism set out to carry out in-depth interviews and investigate events in order to provide correct accountability of events (Hellmueller, Mellado, Blumell, & Huemmer, 2016). In Iran and Egypt, this was not the case, as the state ordered no journalists and shut down the internet, which prevented online communication. The media blackout made it harder to identify the issues going on in the region. It also masked the police brutality and violation of human rights. Social media was the countries’ only chance to propagate information and communicate with the outside world. Eltantawy and Wiest (2011) examine the role of social media in the Egyptian revolution in 2011.

Communication technologies such as Twitter, Facebook, cellular phones contributed to networked interaction. These sites attracted more supporters and created a following, which allowed people to rally their issues online and be more organized in their protests. In Iran, protestors were able to share videos online, allowing them to reveal to the rest of the world what was going on in their country (MacFarquhar and Cowell, 2011).

Methodology: The present study will take a qualitative approach. The study will involve an in-depth interview with press experts. The idea is to collect professional information and perspectives of journalists on the impact of mass media news and social media during the Egypt and Iran protests of 2011. An in-depth interview is a qualitative research method that collects individual thoughts, opinions, and experiences concerning sensitive topics.

The findings from the interviews will be summarized and used to answer the three research questions posed in the introduction section. Expected outcomes: Press expert information will help understand the impact of press control on the Iran and Egypt protests and the role social media played in the communication and news coverage.

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Human Rights and Police in Iran. (2020, May 06). Retrieved from

Human Rights and Police in Iran

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