Subversive Politics via SMS in Iran

Posted by CorinneRamey on Jan 23, 2008

Have you heard the joke about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? If you're a young person in Iran you probably have. Political jokes are spreading like wildfire in Iran, reports Parisa Dezfoulian in an article on texting in Iran in Middle East Online.

According to Desfoulian, SMS has become a way for young people to circumvent authority, largely through the spread of political jokes on subjects from nuclear energy to petrol bans to government rationing. She notes that with more than 20 million SMS messages sent every day in Iran,

Did you get the one about the politician on your phone?

Posted by Bonnie Bogle on Jun 06, 2006

With the expansion of cell phone access and text messaging use, it was only a matter of time before it started – the SMS joke. And not surprisingly, few subjects are poked fun at more than local politics and of course the politicians.

"Da Vinci Code to be totally banned in the Philippines. GMA [Gloria Macapagal Arroyo] has been informed by Dan Brown that she is a direct descendant of Judas."

That’s one of the many SMS jokes being circulated throughout the Philippines making fun of the current president and her restrictive policies, among other things. Tonyo Cruz from TXTPower, and a MobileActive, passed on a bunch of the jokes that he’s seen sent around the country. You can read them all at the bottom of this post – thanks Tonyo!

The Philippines has been ahead of the curve in using cell phones for activism (remember the 2001 revolution and the Hello Garci ring tones), but SMS political jokes are spreading to other countries too. In Tamil Nadu, India, residents are sending out SMS jokes to make fun of the candidates from a recent election and their policies. One message circulating the region is an image of a candidate crying – supposedly showing her dismay at her party’s poor performance in the election. Another criticizes one party’s idea to give out “freebies,” saying that these practices will hurt businesses and make people lazy.