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Iran Election: Five Things To Know

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(FILES) (COMBO) This combination created on June 18, 2024 of handout pictures provided by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) shows Presidential candidates (clockwise) Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Alireza Zakani, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, Masoud Pezeshkian, Saeed Jalili, and Amirhossein Ghazizadeh-Hashemi during a debate at the Iran State television studio in Tehran on June 17, 2024. - Iran on June 9 announced the six candidates, mostly conservatives, approved for the June 28 election to replace president Ebrahim Raisi, who was killed in a helicopter crash. (Photo by MORTEZA FAKHRINEJAD / IRIB / AFP)

Middle East powerhouse Iran votes on Friday in a snap election to replace President Ebrahim Raisi following his death in a helicopter crash last month.

Here are five facts about the Shiite Muslim country of 85 million people known as the Islamic Republic of Iran.

From Shah to mullahs

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Formerly the ancient empire of Persia, Iran was dominated during part of the 20th century by the Pahlavi dynasty.

Shah Mohammad Reza, accused of authoritarianism and criticised for his modernist reforms, fled in 1979 after months of protests.

His main opponent, Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, returned from exile and immediately established an Islamic republic, one of the few that exist in the world.

The authority lies with its supreme leader, who since 1989 has been Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, successor to Khomeini.

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The supreme leader’s power is greater than that of the president, who is elected by universal suffrage.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was set up as the ideological defenders of the Islamic Republic after the 1979 revolution.

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Veil of contention

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Since 1979, Tehran has imposed a strict Islamic code on women, officially to protect them. In public, they are obliged to wear loose clothing and a hijab — a veil covering their hair and neck.

Respect for the veil is required of all Iranians and foreigners, while morality police patrol the streets to ensure compliance.

In September 2022, massive protests broke out across the country after Masha Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, died following her arrest by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly breaching the strict dress code.

Hundreds of people were killed and thousands were arrested in the protests.

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Iran, which topped the table for the most recorded death penalties in 2023, has executed nine men in cases related to the protests, according to Amnesty International.

READ ALSO: Iran President Had ‘Lot Of Blood On His Hands’ – White House

Iran and Israel: arch-enemies

Under Raisi, Iran sought improved relations with China and Russia while mending ties with Arab neighbours, mainly its major regional rival Saudi Arabia, to avert deeper isolation.

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But its relations with Israel remain particularly fraught and have only grown more tense since Iran-backed Palestinian militant group Hamas launched the October 7 attack on Israel that started the bloodiest-ever Gaza war.

Iran is officially committed to the destruction of what it calls the “Zionist entity”, and in April for the first time launched a direct attack against Israel involving hundreds of missiles and drones, most of which were intercepted.

Nuclear fallout

In 2015, Iran reached a landmark agreement with major powers to accept limits on its nuclear programme in exchange for easing sanctions.

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But the United States, under then-president Donald Trump, withdrew from the hard-won deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions.

READ ALSO: Iran Gets Interim President After Raisi’s Death

Iran responded by rolling back most of its commitments.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran is the only non-nuclear weapon state to enrich uranium to the high level of 60 per cent — just short of weapons-grade — while it keeps accumulating large uranium stockpiles.

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The IAEA has said that Tehran now has enough material to build several atomic bombs.

Filmmakers: prized and jailed

Iran’s cinema is unparalleled in the region, with modern masters including the late Abbas Kiarostami and Asghar Farhadi, a two-time Oscar winner.

But working in film in Iran today can be risky for those who speak out against the authorities.

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Several prominent directors have been arrested or jailed, including Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof, who was in the spotlight at this year’s Cannes festival after he fled Iran to escape a jail sentence.

He is now living in exile in Europe.

AFP

 

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Meta Deletes 63,000 Accounts In ‘Yahoo Boys’ Crackdown

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Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, has removed 63,000 accounts associated with the notorious “Yahoo Boys” scam group, the company announced in its Q1 2024 Adversarial Threat Report on Wednesday.

The accounts, deleted over the past few weeks, were used for financial sextortion scams and distributing blackmail scripts. Meta reported that a smaller network of 2,500 accounts, linked to around 20 individuals, primarily targeted adult men in the United States using fake identities.

Meta said it identified and disabled these accounts through a combination of advanced technical signals and comprehensive investigations, enhancing its automated detection systems.

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“Financial sextortion is a borderless crime, fueled in recent years by the increased activity of Yahoo Boys, loosely organised cybercriminals operating largely out of Nigeria that specialize in different types of scams,” the social media giant stated.

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It added, “We’ve removed around 63,000 accounts in Nigeria attempting to target people with financial sextortion scams, including a coordinated network of around 2,500 accounts.”

“We’ve also removed a set of Facebook accounts, Pages, and groups run by Yahoo Boys—banned under our Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy—that were attempting to organize, recruit and train new scammers,” the company explained.

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During the investigation, Meta said it found that most scammers’ attempts were unsuccessful, though some had targeted minors. These cases were reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Meta revealed that it also shared information with other tech companies via the Tech Coalition’s Lantern program to help curb these scams across platforms.

READ ALSO: FG Slashes Allowances Of Stranded Nigerians On Scholarship In Russia The Federal Gov

Further, the parent company of Facebook said it removed around 7,200 assets in Nigeria, including 1,300 Facebook accounts, 200 pages, and 5,700 groups that were providing scam-related resources.

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These assets were found offering scripts and guides for scams and sharing links to collections of photos for creating fake accounts, it expounded.

Since this disruption, Meta’s systems have been actively blocking attempts from these groups to return, continually improving their detection capabilities.

The company noted that it has also been working closely with law enforcement, supporting investigations and prosecutions by responding to legal requests and alerting authorities to imminent threats.

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The social media giant stated that its efforts extend beyond account removal.

“We also fund and support NCMEC and the International Justice Mission to run Project Boost, a program that trains law enforcement agencies around the world in processing and acting on NCMEC reports.

“We’ve conducted several training sessions so far, including in Nigeria and the Cote d’Ivoire, with our most recent session taking place just last month,” the firm revealed.

To protect users, especially teens, Meta disclosed that it has implemented stricter messaging settings for users under 16 (under 18 in certain countries) and displays safety notices to encourage cautious behaviour online.

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READ ALSO: FG Slashes Allowances Of Stranded Nigerians On Scholarship In Russia The Federal Gov

Last week, Meta was fined $220m by Nigeria’s Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission for multiple violations of data protection laws linked to WhatsApp.

The investigation, initiated in May 2021, found that Meta’s privacy policies infringed on users’ rights, including unauthorized data sharing and discriminatory practices.

Meta plans to appeal the decision, arguing that it disagrees with the findings and the imposed penalty. The FCCPC aims to ensure fair treatment of Nigerian users and compliance with local regulations.

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FG Slashes Allowances Of Stranded Nigerians On Scholarship In Russia The Federal Gov

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The Federal Government has announced a slash in allowances of foreign scholars who are currently studying in Moscow, Russia.

This is contained in a letter dated July 23, 2024, issued to the scholars’ association in country by the Federal Scholarship Board under the Federal Ministry of Education.

The students are studying under the Federal Government’s Bilateral Educational Agreement Scholarship, which is for the purpose of education exchange between Nigeria and the other countries.

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The letter, which was signed by the Director of the Federal Scholarship Board, Ndajiwo H.A., on behalf of the Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman reads, “A: FG slashes allowances of Nigerian foreign scholars over hardship”

According to the letter, the monthly allowances were slashed from $500 to $220; the graduation allowance from $2500 to $2000; and the PG research allowance was slashed from $1,000 to $500.

The total for the payments initially paid was $5,650 per student but will now be $4,370 but allowance for health insurance, pilot allowance and Medical allowance remains $200, $700 and $500 as before.

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READ ALSO: Plane Crashes On Takeoff In Nepal With 19 Aboard

The letter reads: “The Scholars’ Association is hereby notified that due to the prevailing economic situation, the payment mandate for the BEA scholars’ allowances will be as per the new adjustment.”

“The balances for the years 2023 and 2024 owed to scholars will be paid as soon as the funds are made available,” the letter reads.

Meanwhile, reports has it that the scholars have not been paid for close to eight months and have endured financial strain due to the delay in receiving their stipends.

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BREAKING: SGF, NSA, Ministers In Emergency Meeting Over Planned Nationwide Protest

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The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, George Akume, is currently meeting with ministers over the planned nationwide protest against economic hardship.

READ ALSO::Four Suspected Cultists Arrested With Arms In Edo

The meeting, which is taking place behind closed doors, has all the over 40 ministers in President Bola Tinubu’s cabinet in attendance.

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Some of the Ministers spotted are Nyesom Wike (FCT), Yusuf Tuggar (Foreign Affairs), Zephaniah Jisalo (Special Duties), Tahir Mamman (Education), and Abubakar Bagudu (Budget and Planning).

Others are Wale Edun (Finance), Mohammed Idris (Information), Bello Matawalle (Defence), David Umahi (Works), and the National Security Adviser (NSA) Nuhu Ribadu, amongst others.

Recall that the President had earlier on Tuesday pleaded with Nigerians to shelve the #EndBadGovernance protest slated to commence on August 1.

The protest against economic hardship, organized by faceless persons, has gained traction on social media and is scheduled to hold across the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

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