The real Iran
How weblogs can change the way the
world sees Iran
By Hossein Derakhshan
October 1, 2003
Having lived almost all my life in the Islamic
Republic of Iran, I've always wanted to see the West and why
clerics in Iran dislike its values and
lifestyle so much.
Before I came to Toronto as an immigrant in December
2000, I was working as a tech journalist in one the so-called
papers in Iran. A daily column named "Internet" with
a simple, straight-forward language had attracted a lot of readers whose emails
were making my yahoo email account full every day. The pleasure of helping
people discover new things and cross new borders is the most satisfying experience
But then everything suddenly changed when the
hardliner-backed judiciary closed down all reformist papers in
After a few months, I received a visa to came
to Canada, completely disconnected from a rapidly changing society
that I cared -- and still care -- about.
You have no idea how much a high-bandwidth Internet
connection helped me at the time. Having worked -- or been
tortured, better put -- by slow modem connection, I could finally
see and feel the real potentials of the Internet.
that pointless but joyful surfing, I came across to a website that later
changed my work and life: Blogger.com.
I started my own weblog in Persian a few days
later and started to attract dozens of old readers of my column
again. Then many people asked me to
show them how
to do the same thing. On 25 September 2001 I wrote a simple step-to-step
guide on how to build a weblog in Persian. Suddenly in less than a
year, weblogs became one of the hottest issues among Internet
all over the
Weblogs are powerful bridges in a widely divided
society. Bridges between immigrants and homeland inhabitants,
girls and boys, parents and children,
between journalists and writers who were not able to publish their
works freely in the politically closed atmosphere in Iran and their
Tens of thousands of Persian weblogs now attract
millions of readers everyday, but the language barrier has prevented
the world from seeing
the real Iran
and its people through them. A quick study of the contents of these
a whole new set of attitudes and values among Iranian young people,
absolutely different with what mainstream North American media
tries to sketch.
New generation of young Iranians are more
tolerant, self-expressive, independent, and individualistic than
ever. In an increasingly
anti-American -- and to some
extent anti-Western -- region of the Middle East, where fanatic
Islam has the most fans among the middle-class population, Iranians
values than their neighbouring countries, and surprisingly, different
than their fanatic leaders.
Salam pax, the Iraqi blogger who was the only
genuine and direct voice from inside Iraq during the foggy days
of war, could change
life in Baghdad. Now while the Iranian fundamentalist regime
is under serious pressure by the world community for it's nuclear
issues and support
for terrorism, Iranians who write their weblogs in English
provide the best tools for the world to separate the fanatic
society in the Middle East.
Luckily, aside from tens of thousands of weblogs
in Persian, there are over a hundred Iranian weblogs in English,
inside Iran itself.
As for my own personal experience, I can't be
happier as I see thousands of people log on to my weblog (Persian: Sardabir
Khodam, English: Editor:
Myself) By reading
their emails and comments
on my posts, I have re-discovered my faithful readers that
I had missed for a long time, this time without having
my writings. I'm my own editor. Every blogger is his or
For more on weblogs by iranians check out blogsbyiranians.com.
Hossein Derakhshan, aka hoder, is a journalist
and multimedia developer.
He has written about techincal and cultural aspects of Internet
Azadegan and Hayat-e No daily papers,
before emigrating to Canada on December 2000. He
lives in Toronto.
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