We Are Iran

On: October 16, 2006
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About Jeff van Schie
Founder and managing director of Fix Nieuwe Media BV. Became an official Master of New Media in Octobre 2007.


It all started in 2001 when Hossein Derakhshan, an Iranian journalist living in Canada, published a how-to-blog guide in Farsi (Persian). By doing this he started what can be considered as one of the most thriving sub-cultures in the blogosphere. Iranians love blogging and this is not strange if you realise that about 70% of Iran’s population is under 30 years of age and highly educated. However, it is remarkable considering the fact that freedom of speech in Iran is non existent.

Iranian bloggers
In “We Are Iran” the world of Persian blogs is opened up for the first time to those who don’t speak Farsi. It is not just a collection of blog postings and comments, but a short introduction on the history of Iran, namely the colonial years, the reign of the Sjah and the Revolution of 1979, and what this all meant for the lives of Iranians. The postings of Iranian bloggers are used in this book to illustrate important subjects such as women’s rights, Islam and a view on the diffrences between Iranian and Western culture, but they also show that Iranian bloggers are not that different from bloggers around the world. They also write about love, feelings, frustrations and dreams and by showing this the book could be an eye opener to those who only know Iranians as they are displayed in Western media: suppressed and affraid.

The effects of an undemocartic muslim government
Not surprisingly, the book’s main theme is the effect an undemocratic muslim government system has on people’s lives. All the media in Iran are state controlled and those who dare to be critical of the leaders of state and the clergy have a significant chance to be thrown into jail. This is probably why blogs in Iran have been so popular, as they were the only place where people and journalists could be honest and critical without running the risk of getting caught. For a couple of years this has been the case, and blogs were able to stay under the radar, but now the Iranian leaders are trying to gain control over this media outlet as well and many well known bloggers have been sentenced to years in jail. The Iranian government uses filters to keep track of unwanted posts and blogging has become a risky business if you are a critical blogger.

A must read
“We Are Iran” is a very important book, especially because many publications on the Web tend to dissapear after a while and by publishing this book important postings will be eternalised. It gives an interesting view on the lives of Iranians and their hisory, and, to be quite honest, to me it was a huge eye opener, because everything I new of Iran came from Western media. My whole view on Iran has changed after I read this book and would recommend it to anyone who is at least a bit interested in politics.

Interesting links:

Report of Reporters Without Borders on Iran
BBC article about a prosecuted blogger
Hossein Derakhshan’s Blog

(this article is also published on Jeff’s MA blog)

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