Nasrin Alavi has hopes for the Iranian blogosphere

April 2008 -

If you can believe Nasrin Alavi, author of the blog book We are Iran, the next revolution in Iran will be triggered by the blog scene. And she may be right. In a period of only six years, Internet in Iran has surged to 18 million users, more than 700,000 of which have their own web log. President Ahmadinejad has also started blogging. His blog is the second hit shown if you google Iranian blogger in Dutch.


Surprising developments in a country where more than forty newspapers have been banned in the past eight years, but blogging can also be dangerous. Sina Motallebi, a journalist, was the first blogger to be imprisoned in April 2003, and many other arrests followed. According to Reporters without Borders, 43 on-line journalists and internet users have been arrested in the past eighteen months because the Iranian government found their blogs to be too critical. We are Iran is an excellent introduction into the Iranian blogosphere, showing much more nuances of Iran than seen in the regular media.

Alavi collected fragments from the most popular blogs and commented on them in her heavy book. The strongest are the chapters in which she discusses the history of her country, feminism and daily life in Iran. The chapter 'Unveiled Women' is particularly revealing. Alavi paints a picture of Iranian women as emancipated trendsetters who originally considered their veils to be a symbol of resistance against the West. Now they allow as much hair as possible to escape from their veils as a sign of resistance against the strict moral police.

The book's greatest shortcoming, however, is the fact that Alavi has a tendency to go too far in her analyses of the current political situation, as a result of which some themes, including the importance of the blog community for Iranian culture, are strangled. Here she unveils her undying belief that Iran will some day be freed from the 'beards' thanks to the revolution that this blog community will trigger. Reporters without Borders seem to believe her to some extent: its 2007 annual report on Iran describes internet as a 'battlefield between the rigid regime and the increasingly-active militant feminists who demand that discriminatory laws be rescinded'.

Nasrin Alavi - Wij zijn Iran. De jonge Iraanse weblogscene
Meulenhoff 2007

In de Balie in Amsterdam, a discussion will be held on 22 April 2008 about digital developments in Iran, during which We are Iran will be reviewed.