Iranian blogger to Ynet: Message of peace is stronger than any fear
Anyone who thinks Iranian criticism of the regime is not alive and kicking hasn't been to 'blogistan'- the 900 thousand- strong world of Iranian web-loggers. In an open letter to Israelis, one Iranian blogger criticizes his government's position on Israel
When the media reports on Iran, it usually concerns Tehran's nuclear program or the regular anti-American and anti-Israeli threats emanating from its senior political figures. It thus seems that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has managed to sharpen the image of his country as an extremist pariah, and to draw much of the world's attention to the country through his provocative remarks.
At the same time, different voices can also be heard coming out of Iran; in the Islamic Republic, 'criticism' is not a dirty word. Besides critical positions held by opposition parties in parliament – mostly concerning Ahmadinejad's internal policy – the Iranian press does not hesitate before publishing critical editorials attacking the president, even if this is done with some restraint.
Criticism of the regime is most lively, free, and interesting, however, in "Blogistan," the name given to the realm of Iranian bloggers, whose numbers have now reached over 900,000. These Iranian youths, most of whom are students equipped with only computers and internet connections, publicly express their opinions on the current state of affairs in their country, uncovering the true face of the Iranian regime.
Peyman (not his real name) is a 27-year old Iranian computer-science student from Tehran. He has been publishing a blog (web log) for several years now through which tells anyone who is interested what it means to be a young Iranian living under the tyrannical reign of the ayatollahs.
Peyman was asked by Ynet to send a letter to the citizens of Israel concerning the harsh attitude and comments of President Ahmadinejad against Israel.
"The situation for Iranian citizens is not a good one at the moment, and therefore they can't openly express their true opinions, but they stand by the Israeli people," Peyman wrote. "Even though they don't say it, they wish with all their being to conduct normal relations with Israelis.
"First of all, I want to say something about the Iranian president. The Iranian nation is concerned about Ahmadinejad. We know that his remarks concerning the elimination of Israel and holocaust denial are constantly reverberating, and we cannot accept these ugly lies."
"We can understand what you are feeling right now," Peryman wrote. "But you should know that we do not recognize him as our president, as he came to power through undemocratic elections. The Iranian nation is always concerned with this man, but we can do nothing — he is a nightmare for us, and doesn't let us express our true voice for other nations to hear. Our worldview is completely different from his.
Ahmadinejad a nightmare: Iranian student protests (Photo: Reuters)
"Obviously, the government of Iran does not recognize Israel as a state, but the Iranian people do not agree. Most of the people understand that we have a small group of politicians who impose their sick ideology on all of us. Everyone understands that there is a wall of mistrust between the government and people in Iran."
"If we try harder, we can find happiness"
Regarding the controls that govern the Iranian press, Peyman writes that the state media try to make the public see Israel as an enemy: "As you can see, the Iranian government controls the media in the country through which it publishes propaganda. They are trying to deceive our nation, to force it into thinking that it is an enemy of Israel.
"If someone asks an Iranian about Israelis in a free atmosphere, his answer will surely differ from that of the government. He will first bring up Cyrus the Great, who allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem and the contribution of Iranian Jews to the country. There are more than a few Israeli historians who research ancient Persia, and this makes us happy because it proves that Iranians are not anti-Semites but have rather preserved their link to the Jewish people throughout history," he said.
"The government controls all instruments of the media for its propagandistic purposes, and it tries to propagate its anti-Semitic ideology. Additionally, it is trying to create a situation in which the world will think that this is the opinion of the Iranian nation. In this way, the Iranian nation suffers, but is powerless to protest. In this country there is no open discussion: the government does not attribute importance to human rights, the nation does not enjoy a free press, and people have no place to openly publish their views.
Peyman is full of anger, but also hope for the future: "Despite everything written here, Iranians hope for a better future. They wish for democracy and will always remember their historical relations with the People of Israel. The Iranian nation wishes to create a new connection with Israelis, and to turn over a new leaf. I am sure that if we try harder, we will find happiness in this world."
As per Ynet's question whether he fears arrest, Peyman writes: "Not at all. There are a million internet surfers in Iran. What is most important is that the people in Israel know the truth. The message of peace is stronger than any fear."