Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk thwarted Iran’s attempt to cut off internet access to over 80 million residents when his Starlink service activated over the Middle Eastern country.
The arrest and killing of 22-year-old reporter Mahsa Amini over an alleged hijab violation sparked protests over the country’s modesty laws and led to a fierce crackdown by the Islamic Republic.
This action gives communication access to protestors across the country, some of whom reportedly destroyed an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps base Friday night.
Musk’s move was helped when U.S. officials announced the Treasury Department eased sanctions against the country. This allowed companies such as Starlink to provide greater online services after the Iranian government cut access.
We’re ready to buy 1,000 Starlink satellites to send to Iran 🇮🇷 if you can provide free internet to the people of Iran. @elonmusk Elon let’s make this happen, let’s make HISTORY pic.twitter.com/qbXnoe6Gfy
— History In Pictures (@HistoryInPics) September 23, 2022
Musk had announced earlier in the week that he would ask permission from the U.S. government to operate in Iran despite sweeping sanctions.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced in a tweet that the federal government “took action today to advance internet freedom and the free flow of information for the Iranian people.” He added that the move was to counter government censorship brought on by the protests.
Starlink is part of Musk’s SpaceX and operates thousands of low-level satellites around the globe. It is designed to provide internet access to even the remotest areas and has slowly built its coverage recently.
22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab incorrectly. The journalist died a few days later while in police custody, and authorities said her death was from natural causes.
Her family denies this, however, and reports that she was badly beaten by security forces.
This led to widespread protests across the country as many women have burned hijabs and publicly cut their hair to show their support for changing Iranian policies.
Musk’s Starlink activation is a major victory for forces of free speech and information, a battle that is curiously also being waged in the United States. Providing this service to the Iranian people makes it clear who the voices of freedom are — as opposed to the forces of oppression.