We Are Iran

We Are Iran

We Are Iran

We Are Iran

Synopsis

In September 2001, a young Iranian journalist, Hossein Derakhshan, created one of the first weblogs in Farsi. When he also devised a simple how-to-blog guide for Iranians, it unleashed a torrent of hitherto unheard opinions. There are now 64,000 blogs in Farsi, and Nasrin Alavi has painstakingly reviewed them all, weaving the most powerful and provocative into a striking picture of the flowering of dissent in Iran. From one blogger's blasting of the Supreme Leader as a "pimp" to another's mourning for an identity crushed by the stifling protection of her male relatives, this collection functions not only as an archive of Iranians' thoughts on their country, culture, religion, and the rest of the world, but also as an alternative recent history of Iran. Government crackdowns may soon still these voices -- in February 2005, one blogger was sentenced to 14 years in jail -- and We Are Iran may serve as the only serious record of their existence.

Excerpt

In September 2001 Hossein Derakhshan, a young Iranian journalist who had recently moved to Canada, set up one of the very first weblogs in Farsi, his native language. (For the uninitiated, a wehlog or blog is a kind of diary or journal posted on the Internet.) In response to a request from a reader, Hossein created a simple how-to-blog guide in Farsi. With the modest aim of giving other Iranians a voice, he set free an entire community.

Today Farsi is the fourth most frequently used language for keeping on-line journals. There are more Iranian blogs than there are Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese or Russian. According to the 2004 NITLE Blog Census, there are more than 64,000 blogs written in Farsi. A phenomenal figure, given that in neighboring countries such as Iraq there are fewer than 50 known bloggers.

Blogging in Iran has grown so fast because it meets the needs no longer met by the print media; it provides a safe space in which people may write freely on a wide variety of topics, from the most serious and urgent to the most frivolous. Some prominent writers use their blogs to bypass strict state censorship and to publish their work on-line; established journalists can post uncensored reports on their blogs; expatriate Iranians worldwide use their blogs to communicate with those back home; ordinary citizens record their thoughts and deeds in daily journals; and student groups and NGOs utilize their blogs as a means of coordinating their activities.

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