When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, wanted to create a forum to trumpet his populist political message without the interference of media and opposition catcalls he launched his own blog....
Somewhat gleefully, the reformist newspaper Etemad reported yesterday that some respondents were venting their spleen with little regard for pleasantries.
One writer - calling himself Sadegh Al Ebrahim - sarcastically congratulated Ahmadinejad on his success in creating new jobs through last summer's decision to ration petrol. "In our city before rationing there were two petrol stations, of which one was always shut. But now, due to you, we have 3,000 petrol sellers," the message reads, hinting at the rampant black market.
Another, claiming to be "on behalf of the more than 50 million people who didn't vote for you", berates Ahmadinejad for high unemployment and high inflation. The writer says: "Instead of useless provincial trips, fake propaganda on state TV and unrealistic news fed to you by your aides, you should come to the heart of the society."
The blog's been around for a while, but Ahmadinejad made his first post two weeks ago after a five month hiatus. Promising at least fifteen minutes a week and writing in his most recent post that he spent much more reading the comments, he may have laughed at the irony in this comment, ostensibly from an American:
I hate you. you are retarted [sic]. that simple mentally retarted [sic]
Public diplomacy goes both ways with a blog. Perhaps the comments on a blog really can shape perceptions. Hmm...
Update: See Hamid Tehrani's article on HNN for more insight on Iranian blogging.
Iranian Islamist blogs probably provide one of the best places to learn information and news about power and state-related issues in the Islamic Republic, because some of their writers have close ties with Iranian leaders and some of them even are leading figures in the regime....
In the last two years, Islamist bloggers became much more active and organized than before. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's victory played a key role in mobilizing these blogs in different ways. Reformist bloggers found themselves out of power and started to use the blogs as instruments to get votes. Government itself supports -- directly or indirectly -- organizations such as the Office for Religious Blogs Development (ORBD). This office has a project to help every religious student get a blog. But we should emphasize that Islamist bloggers existed before the Ahmadinejad era.