Blogs in Iran offer opportunity

Attempt to control media through blog registration will likely fail in Iran.

As Web logging has become a new tool for the social movement against the current Iranian government, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made efforts to control this new media by establishing a law requiring Iranian bloggers to register their sites with authorities. Despite his attempt to censor information, it is highly unlikely that the law will be enforced, as more and more bloggers will go underground. After all, social movements don’t cease because of government disapproval – they flourish.

The importance of Iranian blogs for Americans, especially those written in English, is their ability to offer a viewpoint about Iran other than what is represented in Western media. As events in Iran develop and dynamics of power and influence continue to change rapidly, Iranian bloggers can tell a different story than the images depicted in our mainstream media.

Registration of bloggers is Ahmadinejad’s latest attempt to silence and punish critics of the government and to prevent citizens’ general interaction in the online public sphere by making bloggers accountable for their ideas and opinions. At a time when Iran is becoming more and more significant on the world stage, the increasing attempt to curtail the freedom of expression of its citizens is deeply disturbing. Globally, and even right here on the Minnesota campus, blogging represents an unfettered freedom of expression, something that gives wings to the freedom of thought and written word. Ensuring the existence of free dialogue is indispensable to any community.

Despite attempts to keep Iran a closed society, the fierce cultural, political and social debates about the country’s future, primarily by Iranian youth, will continue on the blogosphere. With over 700,000 Iranian blogs and the mass availability of the Internet, Ahmadinejad’s attempts are not only impractical but impossible. Through blogging, Iranian youth are challenging the rules and conditions of an oppressive regime. And remember, it is only through an organic nature and not foreign intervention that Iranians can change the course of their future.