Iran and Iraq online

Iran and Iraq online
: I just had the privilege of introducing Hossein Derakhshan (aka Hoder) to Zeyad, the new Iraqi blogger. Zeyad wants to do for Iraqis what Hoder did for Iranians: spread blogging and with it the exercise of freedom of speech and also the ability to tell their stories to the rest of the world. Hoder is kind enough to help; Zeyad is honored to get the help.

Note the obvious: Here are an Iranian and an Iraqi helping each other online. They are brought together by weblogs. And here I am, an American, honored to be befriending both men.

This weblog thing, this networked world, never ceases to amaze me.

: Zeyad has new posts up today, as illuminating as the last.

On his life during the war, an amazing post, hear these brave last words:

The following days were awful. The lawless and chaotic phase was next. I couldn’t stand to go out and watch those ignorants stealing everything they could and literally destroying public buildings. What would the world think of us now? Some of the strangest things I witnessed, a pickup truck filled with school desks, the desks that their children use. A child dragging a Canon laser printer on the floor. Computers, hundreds of them loaded on carts pulled by donkeys. Police and army vehicles. And most important of all weapons, kalashnikovs, RPG’s, hand grenades, stockpiles of ammunition. I wanted to bury my head in dirt. I hated myself for being an Iraqi, for sharing the same nationality with those strange people. I was deeply ashamed, watching this helplessly. People consciously destroying their own infrastructure, people setting fire to buildings we are proud of, stealing their history from museums, burning their public libraries. They are not Iraqis, they are aliens from Mars. I just couldn’t take it. I cried, I admit it. I didn’t know who to blame. I NEEDED someone to blame. I couldn’t possibly blame the Americans, after all it isn’t THEIR country, it’s ours. We were the ones destroying ourselves. We are a self-destructive people. It only took me now to realize that. It wasn’t Saddam that was the problem, it wasn’t the Ba’ath, it wasn’t the Ottoman empire, it wasn’t the monarchy, it wasn’t colonialism, it wasn’t anything. It was us. We simply destroyed Iraq, and now we are sitting and wailing because the Americans aren’t rebuilding it for us.

And on the “rising young ambitious fanatic Shi’ite cleric from Najaf” Muqtada Al-Sadr and his influence in Saddam city (now Al-Sadr city):

Al-Sadr has recently declared the city as ‘American free’. And claimed that he wouldn’t be responsible for any attacks against Americans if they entered that area. But he IS responsible for the most anti-American/western rhetoric we have ever heard since Khomeini. Their ‘fatwas’ are always so fun to listen to. One of these fatwas stated that unveiled women were prohibited to enter ‘their’ city and might ‘face extreme punishment’ if they did. Some of their earlier fatwas following the war warned cinema owners and booze shops to close within a week or face the consequences. Many violent attacks against both followed and are still to this day. Another fatwa warned CD and video rental shops to close,..etc. You get the picture….

The problem is he is too young to be making such a fuss, he is 21 or 22. And he receives instructions from Kazim Al-Ha’iri who lives in -of all places Iran. Kazim Al-Ha’iri issued the ‘deadly fatwa’ a few months ago that calls for all Iraqis to kill any foreigners, especially jewish intending to buy property in Iraq.

: UPDATE: Salam Pax welcomes Zeyad.

: Also note this fascinating blog who points to Zayed: Brooklyn to Baghdad, a travelogue through Iraq.

: Says Harry: “We might shrug our shoulders at our ability to be able to instantly publish our thoughts but for people who have spent their lives living under dictatorships, media like weblogs truly are liberating.”