First Published: 2012-09-10

 

SMS containing ‘dollar’ suppressed in Iran

 

Iran tries to obscure its currency's new record plunge against US dollar through mobile, website censorship.

 

Middle East Online

Dropping to new record low

TEHRAN - Iran's currency plunged nearly eight percent to a new record low against the dollar on Monday, but the dramatic drop was being suppressed within the country on mobile phone text services and some exchange websites.

One money changer said by telephone that the street rate around midday (0730 GMT) was 26,400 rials to the dollar, sharply lower than the 24,000 rate late on Sunday.

The Mehr news agency reported a rate of around 26,000.

Mobile telephone text messages that included the word "dollar" in English or in Farsi were censored, with the message not being received, AFP noted. The Farsi word for "foreign money" was also blocked.

But text messages containing the words "USD", "euro" or the $ symbol were all transmitted and received normally.

Such text blocks on the word "dollar" were implemented before in Iran, on January 10, when the rial also dived precipitously. The country's two main mobile phone service providers, MCI and Irancell, claimed at the time they were not filtering messages.

Several Iranian websites that usually give real-time foreign exchange rates had the dollar rate blanked out on Monday. One website, mesghal.ir, did give a dollar rate, but at 25,650 it was lower than that reported by money-changers.

Visitors to the money-exchanging district in central Tehran saw many of the shops half-shuttered, and none displayed a rate for dollars in their windows.

Monday's plunge deepened a sharp slide of five percent recorded on Sunday.

Separate from the floating street exchange rate, Iran maintains a fixed official rate of 12,260 rials to the dollar, but that is reserved for the government and a few privileged businesses.

The rest of the country relies on the street rate, with the result that the price of imported goods have sharply risen in recent months.

The head of Iran's parliamentary budget commission, Gholam Reza Mesbahi-Moghadam, told the Fars news agency that "the government has committed its biggest historic mistake by not responding to the demands in the forex market."

He was quoted as saying that the dollar's sharp rise against the dollar was because the central bank "has not injected dollars (into the market) in the past three weeks."

Compared to the rate in December last year, the value of the rial against the dollar has halved under the impact of draconian Western economic sanctions. The measures are aimed at crippling Iran's all-important oil exports to punish Tehran over its disputed nuclear programme.

Iranian authorities have tried several times in recent months to stop the currency's slide -- even briefly at one point trying to impose a cap on the rate -- but the rial has returned to shedding value.

"The central bank cannot systematically lower the exchange rate, but we have attempted to control it," Central Bank chief Mahmoud Bahmani told reporters on Sunday, the ISNA news agency reported.

"Our situation is one of war. We are fighting an economic war with the world," he said.

Market uncertainty has been exacerbated by bellicose rhetoric from Israel, the Middle East's sole though undeclared nuclear weapons state, which has threatened air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities.

Iran's authorities have vowed not to cede to the sanctions pressure, saying they will maintain their nuclear activities, which they insist are purely civilian in nature.

EU foreign ministers meeting in Cyprus on the weekend said they were considering imposing further sanctions on Iran.

 

Future of Algeria on wheelchair

Experts: Washington demanded removal of Saudi spy chief

Syria presidential candidates to begin registering soon

Kuwait MP: No citizenship is punishable by isolation

Syria world’s most perilous country fro journalists

For Massacre-scarred Algeria village, peace is worth more than wealth

An act of heroism: Iraq policeman sacrifices himself to shield army recruits

UK ‘determined to catch’ killer of Libya embassy policewoman

Palestinians rally for solidarity with Israel-held prisoners

Turkey may clinch bid to dismantle Italy’s wrecked ship

Israeli, Palestinian negotiators to hold meeting with US envoy

UN ‘gravely concerned’ about South Sudan oil state fighting

South Sudan war: Child soldiers consumed by desire for retribution

Algerians casting their vote for president

Egypt jails ex-presidential hopeful for fraud

Egypt leftist leader urges all revolutionary groups to unite

Jordan ‘destroyed’ combat vehicles entering from Syria

South Sudan army loses key oil town of Bentiu

Lebanon parliament soon to elect new president

Zarif to discuss Caspion Sea states in Russia

MERS spreading in Saudi Arabia

Algeria finally opens its piggybank to lure back exiled youth

Suicide bombs rock Ramadi government compound

Three Palestinians killed in Gaza blast

Peace talks delayed after Palestine blamed for fatal shooting

Palestinians clash with Israeli police in Al-Aqsa

Undercover New York police unit that spied on Muslims disbanded

Washington will not issue visa for Iran UN envoy

British paedophile gets 20-year sentence in Morocco

Syria army fights its way into besieged Homs

Invisible Bouteflika urges Algerians to vote

Saudi Arabia replaces powerful intelligence chief

Benflis mobilizes ‘army’ to monitor Algeria election

Syria army advances on rebel-held neighbourhoods in Homs

Egypt court bans any Brotherhood candidacies in upcoming elections

Turkey rights groups sound alarm at plan to build gay-only prisons

Kuwait coup plot video ‘neither genuine nor reliable’

Iraq Kurdistan digs trench to prevent militant infiltration from Syria

Saudi urges stern world action against Syria

Zarif mission to mend Iran-Gulf ties begins in UAE

Results of Egypt vote appear before time in collection of signatures

South Sudan rebels demand firms end oil production

Jordan court sentences Syrian smugglers to five years in prison

Security concerns force Iraq to shut notorious Abu Ghraib prison

Turkey to social media companies: Open offices and pay taxes