29 September 2010

Will our government do right by "Hoder"?

Blogging is an entertaining but, as an influence in world affairs, an overrated medium. It provides vast quantities of opinion but little hard news. For that we must still rely on conventional news sources, principally the always dependable daily press, in hard copy or on line. Blogging, it seems to me, is rather like a vast letters-to-the-editor page.

Nonetheless, it is taken very seriously indeed in some quarters. For instance, Iran. The Iranian authorities, in yet another display of bloody-mindedness toward those who don't appreciate their divine truths, have sentenced blogger Hossein Derakhshan to 19 years in prison. Derakhshan -- online name of "Hoder" -- is widely referred to as the "blogfather" of Iranian blogging for helping pro-democracy activists use the web in Farsi to promote their cause.

Derakhshan, a Canadian and Iranian dual citizen, was sentenced for co-operating with hostile countries, spreading propaganda against the establishment, promoting counter-revolutionary groups, insulting Islamic thought and religious figures and managing obscene websites. In other words, for being a pain in the ass to a bunch of self-righteous mullahs. Apparently the prosecutors in the case wanted the death penalty. No doubt if he was a female blogger they would have wanted him stoned to death.

The Canadian government now has the responsibility, both because Derakhshan is a Canadian and because we should defend freedom of speech, to work for his freedom and his return to Canada. They should be able to perform their duty here -- after all the man isn't a Khadr.

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