The restoration of internet access, which started late last week, has been greeted with relief by millions, while the country’s information minister has reassured the public that the government values global online access.
Still, many Iranians are struggling to process the implications of being barred from digital global infrastructure that has become essential to the smooth functioning of everyday life and commerce.
‘We are all alone’
Iran’s National Security Council cut internet access in certain parts of the country after protests erupted in the wake of a petrol rationing scheme announced abruptly at midnight on November 15.
The rationing plan, which slashed subsidies and dramatically raised petrol prices, is designed to fund cash benefits for Iran’s poorest citizens during a time of profound economic stress for low and middle-income Iranians.
The country’s oil sales have slowed to a trickle as the economy has been crippled by successive waves of United States sanctions reimposed after the administration of President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
By afternoon on November 16, all civilian fixed-line and mobile phone internet connections across Iran had been severed.
“I think it was a major jolt for us all,” one Tehran resident told Al Jazeera, asking for his name to be withheld to protect his privacy.
At the apex of the blackout, Iran’s internet connectivity levels flatlined at 5 percent for several days, according to non-governmental internet governance observatory NetBlocks.
Iran’s leadership has blamed “thugs” linked to exiles and foreign adversaries, including the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia, for instigating the anti-government protests – the most violent to sweep the country in a decade.
On Monday, Amnesty International said at least 143 demonstrators were killed across Iran. Iranian officials have called previous estimates by the rights group “speculative” and said only casualty figures confirmed by the government are reliable.
As connectivity started being restored late last week, frustration and anxiety rippled across Persian social media.
“God has forgotten us, the world has forgotten, we are all alone, we only have ourselves!” read one tweet posted over the weekend.