Saturday, May 10, 2003

Blogging in Iran

I'd long been vaguely aware that a blogging subculture seemed to be thriving in Iran, but I hadn't forced myself to pay it more attention until recently. Now that I have, I must say that what I have seen has been very interesting. Certainly, reading the thoughts of young people from that country helps to make them less of an alien quantity - one comes to appreciate just how important it is to distinguish between the rabid, apocalyptic pronounciations of the Ayatollahs, and the real aspirations of ordinary Iranians for mundane things like intellectual and social freedom.

One thing that comes across clearly, though, is that however much one comes to feel that the young people of Iran are similar to ours in many ways, in yet other ways an unbridgeable gap remains, and is likely to remain whatever changes for the better may occur in that country. On matters like the role of America in the world, and particularly on the issue of Israel's culpability in the Palestinian issue, the general sense one gets is that young Iranians do indeed share the views of their leaders to a great extent.

Alongside the admiration for American culture and technology, there is also a deepseated distrust of American intentions, even when these might seem to unbiased observers to be entirely benign. To a certain extent this attitude is understandable, given the history of Western interference in Iran's internal affairs, usually to the detriment of the country's people. Nevertheless, to empathize is not to justify, and such attitudes are often a great hindrance to those who hold them.

I intend to add a few links to some Iranian bloggers in the near future. One thing I must say I find odd though: with the exception of Salam Pax, there seem to be no Arab bloggers of any note to be found. Doing a Google Search turns up nothing but a single comment, while a variant search comes up with absolutely nothing. Why are there so many Iranian bloggers and so few Arab ones? Is it something political? If so, why aren't any Arabs living abroad involved, in the same manner that Iranian expatriates are? Is there some subtle cultural reason behind the difference?