As people outraged over Iran’s election results take to the streets in protest, even more are taking to the information highway, where they’ve found a safe venue to voice their concerns in the face of censorship and intimidation.
Ramin Joubin, 28, who was born in Iran and grew up in Vancouver, said the Iranian community is “empowered” by blogging, Twittering and instant messaging about the riots in Tehran.
“(Postings) on Twitter and Facebook is bringing awareness on the issues,” Joubin said. “It really brings people together (and) allows them to interact and bridge gaps. And it’s safer because you don’t have to put yourself in physical danger.”
On June 12, president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed a landslide victory over reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi in a national election. Millions of Iranians claimed the election was rigged, leading to deadly protests on the streets of Tehran.
The Internet has since been swarmed with forums and debates on the issue, with YouTube videos of violent protests, Facebook support groups and real-time Twitter updates popping up around the clock.
According to a video created by Digital Design students at the Vancouver Film School, which has been posted on YouTube (and is embedded above), the Iran blogger community is the third largest in the world.
“Half of Iran’s 70 million people are under the age of 25, a generation vocally opposed to the current regime,” says the video.
“Speaking out brings punishment, so young Iranians embrace blogs to voice their thoughts and experiences … Iranian blogs are the true voice of the next generation.”
Joubin said Iranians here are being kept up-to-date on the situation through blogs and Tweets posted by friends and family in Iran — information that spreads instantly and defies borders.
“They mention who is being arrested (and) the number of people dying,” he said. “They want us to see what’s going on. They show (us photos) … so we don’t believe the (rhetoric) that comes out of the Ahmadinejad camp.”
Joubin turned to the web to spread the word about a rally that was held outside the new Vancouver Convention Centre on Sunday, to which around 1,000 people turned out.
“The whole world is part of (this),” he said.