The father of blogging in Iran and the man who helped numerous people find their voice by teaching them step by step how to start blogs has been sentenced to nearly 20 years in jail, as reported by CNN yesterday:
Hossein Derakhshan was “convicted of cooperating with enemy states, making propaganda against the Islamic system of government, promoting small anti-revolutionary groups, managing obscene web sites and insulting Islamic sanctities…
The Blogfather is being jailed, not for any substantive crime, but because he has done what is most terryifing to the Islamic Theocrats ruling Iran; he has given the young a voice, a new outlet to voice their anger and dismay at the Ayatollah and all the thugs under him.
An example of the Blogfather’s “subversive” activities would be statements like this which was said with regards to his visit of Israel:
The Islamic Republic has long portrayed Israel as an evil state, with a consensual political agenda of killing every single man and woman who prays to Allah, including Iranians. I’m going to challenge that image. As a peace activist, I’m going to show the Israelis that the vast majority of Iranians do not identify with Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric, despite what it looks like from the outside.
However Mr. Derakhshan is not without significant flaws. I quote again from CNN:
Shortly before his imprisonment Hossein Derakhshan began writing in support of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
He felt Ahmadinejad was doing good for Iran. At that point many Iranian bloggers didn’t like his ideas. He believed in the system. He did not believe it was perfect, but he thought he could work with the system and make it better…
There have been other cases where Hossein Derakhshan has revealed an Anti-Western streak and the fact that he was praising a regime that eventually jailed him is ironic. But what’s important is that the Blogfather created a group of people who now have the power to better criticize the theocratic government of Iran. And a large portion of the “Iranian bloggers” that “didn’t like his ideas” when he came out in support of Ahmadinejad may never have existed if it werent for his pioneering work in blogging.
What this story shows is that the Islamic Republic of Iran is determined to keep its boot on the throats of all dissidents. Derakhshan is lucky in a way. He has a name. What about all the unknown soldiers of change, festering in prisons, being tortured and beaten?
Well, in another testament to the Blogfathers contribution, you can expect bloggers in Iran to spread the word of this arrest, and the arressts of many others who are less known and voiceless.
Despite the very significant errors of Mr. Derakhshan in some areas, it is never a good sight to see a fellow blogger jailed. And as a blogger myself, I can only wish his speedy release and the quick demise of the regime that made freedom of speech a crime.