Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Irony in Iran

In a fascinating testament to the perceived power of the Internet, Iran's fanatical Islamist president, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, has taken up blogging. The site does appear to be genuine, though according to some reports it tries to infect the machines of visitors coming from Israel. Anyway, click here if you want to take a look at Ahmadinejad's blog for yourself.

The irony, of course, is that Iran's Islamist dictatorship has been at the forefront of censoring free expression on the Internet, especially blogs. This recent AP article makes clear the extent of the repression:

Iranian authorities are stepping up arrests and pressure on popular bloggers as part of a wider Internet clampdown launched after hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became president last year, ending years of freewheeling Web access that once made Iran among the most vibrant online locales in the Middle East.

The Internet censors are busy. Their targets include sexual content, international politics, local grumbling, chat rooms and anything else that makes the Islamic leadership uneasy. Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, a prominent human rights lawyer, estimates at least 50 bloggers have been detained since last year.

It is a telling comment on the Ahmadinejad regime that it imprisons people merely for doing what its own president has now done. Sadly, this crackdown on blogs and web sites is merely part of a broader campaign against any and all forms of dissent. This campaign has manifested itself in ways ranging from the ridiculous to the tragic.

Of course, not all forms of free expression are prohibited in Iran, as shown by this current exhibit of cartoons mocking the Holocaust. The fact that anti-Semitism is one of the few remaining forms of protected speech left in Iran should tell us plenty about the nature of the Iranian regime and its ultimate intentions.


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