In April 2008, the Berkman Center for Internet and Society published an interesting study on the Iranian blogosphere and estimated that there are around 60,000 active Iranian blogs. There are all sorts of blogs in Iran, and in 2008 they have been creative, dynamic and active in their diverse fields of interest fields and in many different ways. Here are a few of the most interesting stories of the year from the Iranian blogosphere:
Sex, lies, money & YouTube
In June, students at Zanjan University in North-West Iran recorded and uploaded a video of their school's vice president, Hassan Madadi, with his shirt unbuttoned, allegedly preparing to have sex with a female student. Several Iranian websites and blogs said that the female student had alerted her university's Islamic Student Association, saying she was under pressure by the vice president to have sex with him. The vice president resigned as he could not deny the charges, thanks to YouTube and blogs.
In another event in June, a former member of Iran's Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission, Abbas Palizdar, accused several top clerics of corruption in a speech at Booali University in Hamadan. He offered details of illegal business deals and criminal offences, accusing several of Iran's leading political figures, including influential Ayatollahs. His words spread very fast thorugh blogs and YouTube, but the authorities reacted violently and arrested him. No trial so far.
Green Bloggers: Save nature
Environment has been an important issue for Iranian bloggers and a significant number of green bloggers emerged in Iran to campaign and advocate for green issues.
In July July 5-10, green bloggers decided to launch a campaign to inform people and other bloggers about the beautiful wetland nature and their endangered status. They also published several photos to show the beauty of the Anzali wetlands in contrast to its destruction.
Islamist Bloggers: No compromise with Israel
There are Iranian bloggers who do not support democracy or secularism, and some of them are islamist. In August, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, the Iranian vice president for tourism and the director of the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization, was under fire after he declared that Iran is “a friend of all people in the world, even Israelis and Americans”. He said almost the same thing a few weeks ago, but “corrected” his comment by saying that by “Israeli people”, he did not include Zionists and Jewish immigrants. Esmail, an Islamist Iran-based blogger, wrote that a group of Islamist students held a demonstration in front of the Cultural Heritage Organization in Tehran to protest against the Vice President. The blogger published several photos of demonstrators and their slogans such as, “Go live with the lovely Israelis” and “Being a revolutionary requires revolutionary action not illusion”.
Bloggers remember beloved ones
Fortunately blogging is not only for big political issues. In September, Iranian bloggers remembered Mohsen Rasoulov, a passionate Iranian photographer, artist, cartoonist and photo-blogger who was one of the 68 passengers that lost their lives when an Iran-bound Boeing 737 crashed at the end of August.
Death Penalty for Blogging?
In July, the government of Iran who in recent years has repressed bloggers and jailed some of them, announced that members of the Iranian Parliament voted to discuss a draft bill that seeked to “toughen punishment for disturbing mental security in society”. The text of the bill was to add, “establishing websites and weblogs promoting corruption, prostitution and apostasy,” to the list of crimes punishable by death.
human rights # human rights
It is true that in some cases bloggers have been active in supporting human rights, such as in the case of Hossein Derakhshan's arrest last month. But they have also been rather silent in some other cases of arrests of less popular people. In July, an Iranian cleric named Ali Reza Jahanshahi was arrested after he protested against corruption. Only a few Islamist bloggers talked about his case while most other bloggers, seemed to ignore his case. Probably because he was a cleric.
Most recently, Iranian blogger Omid Reza Mirsayafi was sentenced to 36 months of prison because of the content of his blog accused of insulting Iranian religious leaders and doing propaganda against the Islamic Republic. Bloggers haven't paid too much attention to this case and have not launched a campaign for his release yet, as has been the case with other more famous jailed bloggers.