Monday, August 14, 2006

Ahmadinejad: The Blogger

Ahmadinejad may be a fundamentalist in his religion, but he's with the times in at least one respect: he is now in the solitary position of being the only Iranian president (and perhaps the only world leader) to have his very own blog -- a very presumptious position to be in when one's government has famously imprisoned bloggers (and their fathers), filtered politically damaging websites (but not porn) and arrested and detained numerous people for freely expressing themselves on the Internet.

The blog is available in Persian, English, Arabic, and French and, in a move no doubt precipitated by The Saccharinist, Ahmadinejad also offers RSS feeds for regular updates to his blog. In the spirit of interaction (a spirit the IRI government has never fostered and has in fact discouraged), Ahmadinejad's blog not only has a form for comments and feedback, but features a poll asking if the US and Israel are trying to start a new world war.

However, if you want to read his blog, you might have to join the queue: his server is getting so many hits that it sometimes overloads. In which case, you might want to check the website of the Supreme Feeder (oops, I mean Leader) which nobody seems to give a care about.

His first entry, entitled "autobiography" was posted by a Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last Friday (August 11) and is a nearly 2,000 word praisebook of the revolution, Khomeini, and all the rest of the usual gibberish that has been continually uttered by proponents of this regime all these years. But the blog also includes bits of interesting biographical information, such as the fact that despite having severe nose bleeding, he managed to take and pass the hugely important college placement exam. I guess sometimes it pays off to be in the nosebleed section. But don't worry, Ahmadinejad (should we just call him Mahmoud now?) has said that the blog entries will be more reader friendly following this longwinded introduction: "From now onwards, I will try to make it shorter and simpler," he blogs.

As expected, there are a number of inconsistencies throughout the entry, not least the contradictions between what he hated about the Shah's era and what he likes during this era. For instance, he complains of Shah-era laws and practices which in fact are much worse under this regime and one wonders whether, under the guise of support and praise, he is actually condemning this government. The most blatant of these moments can be found where he states that "the traiterous shah and his clan tried to abolish...revolutionary motives among students, by propagating immorality, promiscuity, and perversion in universities in Iran." It seems impossible that a man of Ahmadinejad's apparent intelligence could overlook the fact that all of these things are rampant -- and not in a good way -- in Iran today: there is no freedom of assembly (we all know what became of the students who demonstrated in 1999) and the rates of extra- and pre-marital sex, as well as prostitution, drug abuse and sexual violence have dramatically (several-fold) increased in the 27 years since this government came to power.

And then there are seemingly trivial contradictions which are made significant by the fact that they detract from his genuineness, such as his statement that the 14 years of Khomeini's exile and the fact of his "separation and absence" were "intolerable" for him. Pretty questionable considering that Ahmadinejad was 8 years old when Khomeini was sent into exile.

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