With one of the strictest web filters on earth, the Islamic Republic leaves people with few alternatives.
Those looking for another avenue to watch Persian cat videos or cute antics by Iranian toddlers have been left disappointed after the launch of Iran's new and much-hyped video-sharing website went awry.
On its homepage, Mehr says its purpose is to bring together Persian-speaking users and to promote Iranian culture. But just days after its launch, the website that officials hope will become a rival to Google's popular YouTube has been marred by poor download speeds and technical glitches.
Iran already has a popular video-sharing website, Aparat, which is run by the same company behind Iran's social-networking site, Cloob. But Mehr, which is run by the state broadcaster Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, is the first government-sanctioned competitor to YouTube in the country.
Hundreds of videos have already been uploaded to Mehr, mostly clips from
Iranian state TV, government-approved music videos, and religious
sermons. But users testing out the new site were met with a continuous
"loading the player" message.
YouTube has been blocked in the Islamic Republic since 2009, after widespread protests and a police crackdown following the contentious reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Tehran has also blocked access to popular Western social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, along with Western media outlets and pornographic material, on the official grounds that they are offensive and a threat to national security.