Almost two years ago, Pedram Moallemian wrote, what I consider, a very influential piece on blogging for the Iranian.com [“Blogs shall set you free“]. At that time, blogging had emerged in Iran as a powerful engine for dissident views, and was spread to an even greater scale by Hossein Derkhastan, a.k.a. Hoder. However, it had not gained an English voice, at least not from the perspective of Iranians or the Diaspora.
After Pedram's post, there was a marketable change. English weblogs by Iranians proliferated, many inspired by Pedram's article. For us, the blog represents more then a forum for thoughts and ideas. It represents a solution to the problems facing Iran. More importantly, it creates a solution for the problems facing Iranian-Americans, particularly those concerning identity.
The Iranian-American's role in assisting Iran toward greater enjoyment of political and social freedoms is to proliferate concepts of human rights and freedoms, while actively engaging both Iranians and Americans in order to better promote the truth and well-being of both. It is to construct a dialogue of voices. To develop an understanding through speaking and sharing ideas. Most importantly, it is to cut down all the barriers that we have created that inhibit our ability to speak freely of our political affiliations and views.
The blog has done all of that. It has created a community of Iranians that write daily or weekly about their personal problems. It has also created a community, which engages political topics. There has been no greater forum concerning the current military gestures toward Iran by the US than the blog. And there has been no greater promoter of human rights and filter of information than the blog.
Directly after the Bam disaster it was bloggers who proliferated information concerning the tragedy, assisted in setting up relief aid, and drew almost daily attention to what was needed.
Every time a political dissident is condemned or sentenced to death, it is the blogger who has set up petitions to condemn human rights abuses and push the regime to become more accountable.
It is a blogger who established a website, Stop Censoring Us, in order to inform the public of Iran's campaign to stop free speech. It is bloggers who are now the target of arbitrary arrests and torture in Iran. Bloggers who are looked upon as the most reliable source of news inside of Iran.
After Akbar Ganji was briefly released by jail, Iranian bloggers were the one's who interviewed him in order to share his story. Mostafa Moin, a reform candidate in Iran's presidential elections, reached out to bloggers and began his own blog.
As a blogger I have been repeatedly confronted by media moguls as large as CNN and as small as local radio stations to express my political points of view. The strength of a blog is its simplicity. Any person can start a blog in 10 minutes by simply going to Blogger.com and follow their very simply instructions. All you have to do is create a screen name, password, and title for your blog and you can begin sharing your opinion with the rest of the community. Once your blog is set draw attention to yourself by taking the following steps
1. link to others. Many bloggers frequently check who is linking to them and return the courtesy by linking to you. Your first step should be to get your blog cited on the Iranian blogging directory: blogsbyiranians.com
2. comment on other people's blogs. Many blogs like freethoughts.org and IranScan.net have a vibrant community of individuals who constantly exchange ideas spurred by posts.
3. be YOURSELF and do not be afraid to express YOUR point of view on whatever topic concerns you. Even the most political bloggers often go on tangents relating to their favorite foods or home life. A blog contains your thoughts, on whatever topic you feel is important.
4. do not lose hope and keep writing, even if you think no one is listening to you. If you continue writing people will notice you.
We need more Iranian bloggers who can translate their experience and the political affairs in Iran into English for the world to share. The more Iranians blog, the closer we can get to a truer understanding of our community and ourself.
About Nema Milaninia is a law student in Southern California and owner of the weblog Iranian Truth.