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January 31, 2013

App Developer Supplies Iranian Broadcasts Despite International Efforts

A UK-based mobile application developer named Shabbir Hassanally has created a series of apps allowing users to access news from a number of Iranian television stations whose transmissions have been blocked since late last year.

Hassanally is the co-founder Code of Zero, a firm responsible for the development of official apps for several of Iranian news stations, including Iran’s English-language propaganda station Press TV, and its sister station, Spanish-language Hispan TV, both of which promote virulent anti-Semitic and anti-West propaganda.

The apps are available for download in the Apple App Store and Google Marketplace for free and allow Iranian propaganda to reach an even wider audience.

In October 2012, the France-based satellite carrier Eutelsat banned the broadcast of 19 television and radio stations from Iran’s state broadcaster, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). A couple months later, HispanSat, a Spain-based satellite provider that broadcast Hispan TV, followed suit and ended its transmission of IRIB stations. Both satellite carriers have cited EU sanctions against Iran as part of the basis to discontinue the transmission of IRIB stations in the West.

Hassanally has a history of involvement with Iranian-backed programs and organizations. Hassanally was responsible for the management of the official website for the 2012 Global March To Jerusalem (GMJ), a campaign that coordinated efforts by activists to cross Israel’s borders and enter Jerusalem. Additionally, Hassanally hosts the official site for the AhlulBayt Islamic Mission (AIM), a UK-based Shi’a organization that promotes the Iranian regime’s ideology.

In December 2012, the Anti-Defamation League released its report, Iran’s Press TV: Broadcasting Anti-Semitism To The English Speaking World.

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January 11, 2013

The Trouble With Make Me a “Stereotype”

Applications for smartphones and tablets have become an emerging segment of the online and entertainment industry.  As with videos, blogs and social networking platforms which came before, Apps are now being created that some consider funny, but which  actually cross the line from humorous to offensive.  Recent examples include two free apps on Google called “Make Me Asian” and “Make Me Indian,” that allow users to edit photos in ways which play on racist stereotypes. Users of the app can darken skin color, change eye shape to an “Asian” slant or add ethnic accessories like an American Indian headdress.

Young children often make fun of Asian American classmates by pulling their eyes to make a slant or play “Indian,” complete with headdress or a “war-cry.” As adults, this is the very kind of thinking we try to challenge in our children.  We want them to understand and respect different cultures, not belittle or ridicule them or make assumptions about all members of a group based on common stereotypes.  We teach them that everyone has different physical features, qualities and characteristics that have nothing to do with the groups to which they belong.

Stereotypes make oversimplified generalizations about people or groups without regard for individual differences. The problem is that these generalizations soon become beliefs about groups which form  the building blocks for prejudice and discrimination, features of life that have serious implications for us all.  Apps like “Make Me Asian” and “Make Me Indian” and a score of others built on this concept play on pernicious stereotypes that marginalize individuals and groups. Though the global community is racially and ethnically diverse, these kinds of apps promote the kind of thinking that being white is the norm and everything else is defined as “other.”

As a society, we spend much of our time interacting through our mobile devices, but when we choose so-called entertainment that reinforces these kinds of stereotypes, we have to consider whether we might be contributing to the perpetuation of the incivility that limits everyone’s opportunities.

The Anti-Defamation League strives to remain vigilant of emerging issues in our digital world and communicates regularly with many of the major companies on issues that are raised by the community.

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January 10, 2013

App On Google Play Delivers Hitler’s Vile Messages To Arabic Speaking Audience

Update: The app is no longer available as of January 22.

A free application providing users with vile quotes attributed to Hitler has been installed by over 10,000 users in the last 30 days through Google Play, the app store for Android products.

The Arabic-language app, “Hitler’s Sayings,” allows users to read and share what it describes as Hitler’s “beautiful sayings that we could benefit from in our lives” via social media networks.

A description of the app says, “Hitler combines the charisma of the skillful physician and the grand juggler…Read in this application all of Hitler’s sayings and share them with your friends.”

Among the quotes made available to users are:

  • “Jews are like the mosquitos that suck our blood.”
  • “I discovered that the Jews are behind every immorality or crime against society.”
  • “I could have killed all the Jews in the world, but I spared some of them so you know why I killed the rest.”
  • “Oh Germans defend yourselves and never buy anything from the Jews.”

Other quotes attributed to Hitler include, “The needs of society supersede the needs of the individual” and “I will not have mercy over the weak until they become strong, and when they become strong they will not deserve mercy.”

Hitler continues to be a point of fascination and exploitation by those who seek to promote his messages as inspiration to audiences around the world.

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