Iran Blocks Gmail, Threatens to Boycott Oscars Over anti-Islam Film

Culture Ministry demands academy denounce U.S.-made amateur film. as it attacks the religion of more than 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide.

Iran has blocked access to Google's mail service in protest of a U.S.-made anti-Islam video, a report said Monday, while the government also announced that the country may boycott the Oscars if organizers failed to condemn it.

The Gmail service has been blocked since Sunday night, the Mehr news agency reported. A government spokesman said the action was taken at the request of citizens upset about the film Innocence of Muslims, which was posted on Google's YouTube website.

While YouTube has been blocked before, Google and its mail service have been accessible and popular in Iran. Gmail is said to be used by millions of Iranians, including government officials.

Despite the blocking, some Gmail services still work, apparently as some internet providers have not yet implemented the new restriction. Over 5,000 websites are said to be blocked in Iran, but virtual private networks (VPNs) or proxy software are often used to curtail the bans.

Iran meanwhile also said it that it may skip next year's Oscars because of the 14-minute amateur film that sparked protests across the Muslim world.

Deputy Culture Minister Javad Shamgadri said because the religion of more than 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide was attacked by the film, the award ceremony's organizers should clearly denounce it.

"We have already nominated our film, but I still suggest that until the academy shows a suitable reaction to this insulting film, there should be no Iranian attendance at this event," Shamqadri said in a statement.

Iran is said to have submitted the film Ye habeh Qand (One Piece of Cube Sugar) by Reza Mirkarami to the Oscars in the category of Best Foreign Language Film.

Iran won the 2012 foreign language film award for The Separation by Asghar Farhadi. It was the first-ever Oscar awarded to a film from Iran.