Saturday, February 12, 2005

The occupational hazard of being a blogger in Iran

The Houston Chronicle carries a scary piece by a blogger in Iran who spent 36 days in jail because she ... blogged. Farouz Farzami writes that after being arrested while exiting a bookstore, she was taken to one of the most notorious prisons of Iran. And there ... :
I was photographed and asked my height, weight, eye color and the number of children I have. "I am single," I said. All this was humiliating.

"That's why you are making trouble for our system," the woman said. "If you were married, you would not have time to write such nonsense."

After a Kafkaesque couple of days, Farzami is finally told what her charges are. This is how it goes:
"Do you accept the charges?" the interrogator asked.

"What charges?"

"That you have written things in your Web log that go against the Islamic system and that encourage people to topple the system," he said. "You are inviting corrupt American liberalism to rule Iran."

"I've tried to write my ideas and opinions in my Web log and to communicate with others in Farsi all over the world," I said.

He was displeased. "These answers will lead us nowhere, and you will stay here for years. Tell us the truth. How much have you received to write these offenses against the Islamic state? How are you and your fellow Web loggers organized?"

How should I respond? I knew my mother must be terribly worried about me. What could I say to make sure I got out? "We are not organized against the state," I said. "I write because I want to criticize the system. There are some things in our state that should be corrected."

"Why don't you write an e-mail directly to the supreme leader's office?" he asked. "The supreme leader considers all criticisms and takes corrective actions."


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