Wednesday, November 30, 2005
On this day:

A world record in synchronized blinking?

I suppose it's possible that all of the U.N. delegates blinked in unison with Mr. Ahmadinejad for the duration of his speech, so that he just never noticed. If so, someone needs to call Guinness. The world record people, not the beer people.

Whatever the case may be, it's encouraging that there are at least some people in the Islamic Republic who aren't taking President Ahmadinejad's antics seriously. Even more encouraging is the fact that some have begun to air their criticism publicly. Here's more from that RFE/RL report:
Iranian legislator Akbar Alami has questioned Ahmadinejad's apparent claims, saying that even Islam's holiest figures have never made such claims.
Alami told ILNA news agency that it is hard to imagine that someone who is delivering a speech can at the same time focus his attention on the eyelashes of all the people sitting at a distance from him and categorically tell a leading Qom cleric that they did not blink.

Additionally, the number of Iranian blogs has exploded, and many bloggers are courageously airing their grievances against the government, even though they face the possiblity of persecution for doing so. From the Telegraph:

Iran is fighting a constant battle against dissenters who are using the internet to voice criticism of the Islamic Republic and to push for freedom and democracy.

With the closure of most independent newspapers and magazines in Iran, blogging - publishing an online diary - has become a powerful tool in the dissidents' arsenal by providing individuals with a public voice.

An Iranian blogger known as Saena, wrote recently: "Weblogs are one weapon that even the Islamic Republic cannot beat."

There are an estimated 100,000 active blogs written by Iranians both within the country and across the diaspora. Persian ties with French as the second most common blogging language after English.

Over the last year, however, Iranian authorities have arrested and beaten dozens of bloggers, charged with crimes such as espionage and insulting leaders of the Islamic Republic. Among them is Omid Sheikhan, who last month was sentenced to one year in prison and 124 lashes of the whip for writing a blog that featured satirical cartoons of Iranian politicians. ...

There is no legislation against blogging itself but the writers can be charged by authorities in the hardline theocracy with "morality violations" for the content of their websites.

Nevertheless, Iranians are increasingly turning to blogs and those who can publish their words in English hope they will reach a wider international audience and alert them to the problems facing free-thinkers within Iran. ...

In one entry yesterday a blogger calling himself Persian Dissident wrote: "How long can this go on? His [President Ahmadinejad] ministers are terrorists, political prisoners are in jail, political in-fighting is clearly visible."

But the Iranian authorities are fighting a losing battle to crush these new outlets of dissent. As fast as one perpetrator is tracked down and closed, another rises in its place and takes up the cause.

These Iranian freedom fighters deserve all the support and encouragement we can provide. They risk their lives everyday just to tell their stories, and it's important for them to know that the world is listening.