Monday, February 14

IRANIAN BLOGGERS CAUGHT IN A TIGHTENING VISE

Michael Theodoulou, in a Christian Science Monitor column rife with implications and published online by ABC News, warns that freedom of expression for Iranian bloggers and liberal journalists is being squeezed in an ever tightening vise: one jaw being Iran's harshly repressive, ongoing "crackdown in cyberspace"; the other being the "collateral damage" from America's war on terror.

Theodoulou explains:

The Internet has become the last refuge for liberal Iranian journalists and independent bloggers (who publish Weblogs, or blogs) since the hard-line judiciary in Tehran has closed scores of reformist publications over the past four years.

He continues:

Some Iranian bloggers argue that it suits Tehran's hard-liners, as well as hawks in Washington, to silence the Iranian public on the international scene, enabling both to manipulate the reality of Iran to advance their agendas.
Prompting the observation on America's seeming complicity are the early indications that contracts with U.S.-based Web-hosting services may be cancelled "to silence Internet communications" from an axis of evil country -- Iran. Hamas and Al Qaeda may be appropriately impacted, but the good guys get squeezed too, in kind of an all or nothing game.

These kinds of ramifications of America's war on terror don't sit well with Iranian bloggers, who see the growing prospect of curtailed Web-hosting services as a form of censorship and a contradiction in terms vis-a-vis President Bush's clarion call for freedom and democracy over repression and tyranny. After all, the president said such people, striving to cast off the yoke of tyranny, would have a friend in America.

Theodoulou cites a popular Iranian blogger, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, as having pointed to Bush's Second Inaugural Address, in which the word "freedom" was used 27 times. Juxtapose that inspirational address with the subsequent and sudden cancellation of Web-hosting services from a Dallas-based company, The Planet (which left a popular online news site in Iran stranded and silenced), and Iranians understandably sense a contradiction in terms.

I urge you to read the entire column. It's compelling reading!