comment by Jerry Gordon

533510.jpgI wonder how I would feel as a blogger being put under death threat? Not likely to occur here in the US, unless some Muslim fanatic didn't like my posts. But that is what is going on in Iran. The Majles, Iran's parliament, is considering doing that to threaten upwards of 110,000 blogs in Iran. Read what the proposed legislation has to say, it's mind blowing.

The bill, which parliamentarians say is designed to "toughen punishment for harming mental security in society," would make offenses such as "establishing weblogs and sites promoting corruption, prostitution and apostasy" a crime punishable by death.

With 10 percent of the population of 70 million Iranians using the Internet and growing, the Majles bill could have a chilling effect on dissident Iranians networking in support of regime change.

Note what this CPD report has to say about the importance of the Internet in Iran:

In 2005, the online Blog Herald estimated that some 700,000 Farsi-language "blogs" existed worldwide, with between 40,000 and 110,000 active blogs within the Islamic Republic itself. Today - bolstered by popular discontent over Iran's internal economic situation and fears of the consequences of the regime's nuclear quest - that number is undoubtedly higher.

Iran's regime has reason to worry. With its growing scope and reach, the Iranian "blogosphere" can give the international community a unique window into the nature of the Islamic Republic, a damning chronicle of its repressive human rights practices, and - perhaps most importantly - insights into its intrinsic social, economic and political vulnerabilities.

Committee on the Present Danger, July 9, 2008

Internet usage is about to become even riskier in Iran. Iran's parliament, the majles, is reportedly considering a new law to greatly expand penalties on what the regime deems inappropriate uses of the web. The bill, which parliamentarians say is designed to "toughen punishment for harming mental security in society," would make offenses such as "establishing weblogs and sites promoting corruption, prostitution and apostasy" a crime punishable by death.

The legislative effort is part of an expanding offensive by Iran's government. Since taking office in 2005, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has launched what some experts term a "cultural revolution," clamping down on Iran's already-endangered free media and expanding governmental interference in social and cultural matters. The Internet has been a major casualty of the effort. Through a series of new regulations, pressure on Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and monthly official bans on scores of new websites, the Islamic Republic has systematically set out to constrict its population's access to the digital world.

All of which provides a telling glimpse of what Iran's leaders really fear. With more than 10 percent of its population of 70 million now using the Internet, Iran is one of the most wired nations in the greater Middle East. And its online community is growing at an exponential rate, expanding 2,900 percent between 2000 and 2005, according to the authoritative OpenNet Initiative .

So is the number of Iranian weblogs. In 2005, the online Blog Herald estimated that some 700,000 Farsi-language "blogs" existed worldwide, with between 40,000 and 110,000 active blogs within the Islamic Republic itself. Today - bolstered by popular discontent over Iran's internal economic situation and fears of the consequences of the regime's nuclear quest - that number is undoubtedly higher.

Iran's regime has reason to worry. With its growing scope and reach, the Iranian "blogosphere" can give the international community a unique window into the nature of the Islamic Republic, a damning chronicle of its repressive human rights practices, and - perhaps most importantly - insights into its intrinsic social, economic and political vulnerabilities.

So, why aren't we paying attention?


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