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Blogistan: how women are using blogs in Iran

I listened to an interesting piece on a radio programme called Weekend Woman's Hour on Saturday about blogging in Iran, which has the third largest number of bloggers in the world.

I thought I would write out some of the things that were said because it's very informative about the situation in Iran and inspiring about women using blogs, despite the difficulties in the country. I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

Presenter Jane Garvey was talking to Fatemeh Shams and Annabelle Sreberny co-author of Blogistan: The Internet and Politics in Iran about blogging.

With an estimated 70,000 active bloggers in the country, blogs were the most significant social media during the unrest that followed the disputed electioncne 2009, despite the fact that much of the media focus was on the use of Twitter.

Annabelle Sreberny said that blogging was important in reestablishing trust between Iranian people:
"If you can't do face to face politics you really don't know what people really think: Iranians used to talk in the bread queue, in the taxi, there was trust. Lately, particularly under this government, that trust has been broken. So the dynamics of the election, with public rallies with women, the wife of Mir Hussein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard as a powerful figure in the election, women going into football stadiums, a space from which they were barred before in terms of watching games, wearing green, just women out in public creating a public, so that other people can see where other people are. You begin then to sense there is a movement out there, we are not isolated, we have ideas in common."

Fatemeh Shams, whose husband was detained last June when the couple were visiting Iran, explained how she had started blogging when she was looking for a space to publish her poems, but she soon realised that it gave her the opportunity to share the things that she "couldn't say aloud".

"Everything changed after the election," she said.
"I was one of thousands of Iranian women who started blogging, most of the wives of the prisoners started blogging because they didn't have the chance to talk to and to express their concerns about their husbands, their dear ones who were imprisoned.

"I wasn't sure during the time that he was in prison, I was hesitant most of the time because I was pushed by many people to stop blogging and not to write about him. But I kept writing and I continued until his release and it was amazing because when he came out he told me 'the main reason for my release was the threat that you made through your blogging and posts you updated on your blog.

"I was amazed by the amount of people actually coming to my blog after my husband's imprisonment and even afterwards, expressing their thoughts and sympathising. I didn't know the vast majority of them.
I've been following women's blogs in Iran for about seven years now.. and after the election what happened on the political scene gave the chance to women to express their ideas more freely and openly than before. So now, for instance there are some blogs that are significantly affecting the blogosphere in the Iranian community. They talk about divorce, for instance, and also about sexual relationships that is completely considered a taboo.

"But now it's getting harder because the government has realised how important and powerful the Iranian women have become in the virtual world and now they block more and more blogs every day."

Comments

Victoria Vorosciuc's picture

Dear Julie, Thank you for

Dear Julie,

Thank you for this post.
I found it very useful and it was a surprise for me to discover that Iran is third place on the top blogging countries.
Although, I couldn't find any source on internet confirming this, I try to believe it is true.

It is a great succes of Iranian women and is worth to be followed. To have people following the story of Fatemeh Shams, made Government feel the power of social media. If more people could wake up and write what they feel, we would have more justice and transparency.

A great respect to all the women in the world that have courage to preserve their famillies and fight for justice!

With consideration,

Victoria

Victoria Vorosciuc
Project Coordinator
"Empowering women to participate
in community life"
WorldPulse Media Corresspondent

Julie Tomlin's picture

Iran and blogging

Hello Victoria,
Thank you so much for getting back to me and for your comments on the post. I was surprised too about the figures about blogging but am looking for more info than what I heard. I agree with you that it is important for people to try and express their views. But it's also the case that governments are exerting their powers more and more to prevent them doing so, and those people need our support.

Good to meet you here.

Yours,
Julie

@julietomlin

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