Mr. Behi is an Iran-based blogger from Tehran writing in English under a pseudonym. His blog has been mentioned several times in Global Voices and other media. He is a very busy young professional and found time to answer some of our questions between two trips.
1- Please present yourself and your blog and tell us why you chose to write in English?
I am a 28 year old individual who was born, grew up and lived in Tehran all my life. I believe I earned myself a very satisfying life that helps me to grow and enable me to have a free mind to look around myself and interpret the surroundings. My blog, Adventures of Mr.Behi is, to me, the memoir of a world citizen. I write this electronic diary to preserve my experiences from the corrosion of my short memory. I started it to be able to record my thoughts and ideas and the fact that on the blog I could see other people's reactions to my point of view was an interesting incentive. I have always been passionate about learning languages. I had the opportunity to train myself well enough in English communication and I have lately discovered that communication is a bridge to extend your mental boundaries by interacting with other people. Adventures of Mr.Behi had to be recorded in an international language to achieve my goal of being a world citizen. Despite the initial goal of being just a personal diary, the fact that I always think about politics and society dragged the posts towards domestic/world issues and soon I realized that there are people who try to look at Iran through my words – which is an extra advantage of the ability to engage in dialogue via your own personal space.
2-Do you think when Iranian bloggers write in English, they try to say things to please English speaking audience?
That is an interesting question. I have actually never looked at Iranian English blogs like that to be able to present a straight answer but if we look at the way Iran is being presented to the world through all the negative news, it can be considered a reaction to show that Iranian people are not well presented. I am not sure if you mean if I think my blog is behaving like that… I try not to write for my audience… sometimes I add things as background information for non-Iranians but my initial intention was to have a personal diary.
3-What has been the reacion of western media and the public to your blog?
The reaction has been so positive and encouraging overall. To be honest I never felt that the little things about Iran and some personal ideas about the world could make anyone interested. I have made so many friends via the blog and I always love the difference in perspectives when people comment. I never filter or remove comments and always enjoy even aggressive ones because that shows how differently some people think from the way I do, and that is cool.
4-How do Iranian bloggers cope with filtering?
It looks very hard. Sometimes I read some bogs that their writers say they write via e-mail forwarding and could not see their own blog for a while which is very sad. I guess for an English-language blog, the attention is not high because the number of internal readers is not high (I have no clue). The problem of filtering is not just for bloggers – it affects so many other internet users. People try to bypass filtering using proxy servers and for news websites I personally use RRS feed readers.
Our next interview will be with a Swedish blogger who visited Iran recently and took some very interesting photos.