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In case you were wondering

Posted by Helen Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Some of our readers (not many I expect) may have wondered why we should be so vehement in our attack on the idea that the UN should set up an international forum, on which all the many tyrants and dictators are to be represented to run the internet. Why did we think it was disgraceful that Britain, on whose behalf the EU negotiated, should find herself on the side of the tranzis and the tyrants and against the US, Australia, Canada and other liberal democracies? After all, does it really matter?

Let us look a little more closely at what might be motivating one of the proponents of the move, Iran. The mullahs and the new president, who is busy purging all opponents, reversing the few liberalizing measures and threatening Israel with extinction, have a problem on their hands. It is called the internet, more specifically the blogosphere, which is enthusiastically used by all the dissidents.

According to Rachel Hoff, a research assistant at the American Enterprise Institute,

“Iranian dissidents are increasingly penning blogs to voice criticism of the Islamic Republic and to push for freedom and democracy. With an estimated 100,000 active Iranian blogs, Persian is now tied with French as the second most common blogging language after English.”
This puts the British reluctance to take blogs seriously into a perspective and not a particularly pleasant one, at that.

The Iranian bloggers are in constant danger. They are arrested, imprisoned, tortured, just beaten up in their homes. And yet they continue to blog, to send messages to the world about their country.
“Blogging has revolutionized dissent in Iran. By providing private citizens a public voice, blogs may be the most powerful tool in the dissidents' arsenal. As an Iranian blogger known as Saena wrote, "Weblogs are one weapon that even the Islamic Republic cannot beat."[7] As the cases of Arash Sigarchi and other imprisoned bloggers show, though, the Iranian regime is trying to crush these new outlets of democratic dissent. Throughout the Middle East, the race is on between journalists opening new websites and regimes such as the Islamic Republic trying to censor cyberspace.”
Ms Hoff castigates the White House and the State Department for not speaking out in support of the bloggers, who need western help in the same way as the Soviet dissidents did before 1991 and the Chinese ones do now. She is right, of course. But what about us? We not only refuse to voice any support – we line up with the oppressors as they try to impose their control on the internet.

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