Nearly 4,000 people signed a petition by Friday demanding Apple stop removing Iranian apps from its App Store.
Apple began removing Iranian apps this week because of recent sanctions by the U.S. government against the Middle Eastern country.
Among those removed Thursday was Snapp, a popular ride-sharing app similar to Uber, as well as food delivery service DelionFoods. Apple said it focused on removing apps that could potentially send Iranian money into Apple’s accounts.
The petition on Change.org addressed Apple chief executive Tim Cook and was published in English and Persian.
“This will have drastic effects on the startup ecosystem and economy,” the creators of the petition, who characterized themselves as “Iranian residents of global village”, said of Apple’s decision. “On one hand, we are losing touch with our most needed application and services and, on the other hand, it might cause many jobs to be lost.”
Apple responded to the petition in a message that said the company will comply with U.S. rules.
“Under the US sanctions regulations, the App Store cannot host, distribute or do business with apps or developers connected to certain US embargoed countries,” the company told Iranian developers.
“This area of law is complex and constantly changing. If the existing restrictions shift, we encourage you to resubmit your app for inclusion on the App Store.”
The sale of iPhones is officially banned in Iran, although millions are smuggled into the country. Apple does not have an official Iranian App Store like it does for other regions, but a growing group of developers have been creating apps that are then sold in other App Stores. Iranian technology news outlet TechRasa estimates 48 million smartphones in Iran, a nation with a population of 80 million.
Even though Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are officially banned and blocked by the Iranian government, TechRasa believes there are 47 million social media users in the country.