Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Free Mojtaba and Arash!

In Iran, two bloggers by the name of Arash Sigarchi and Mojtaba Saminejad are held in detention, apparently arrested following decedent remarks on their blogs. Click above for the Committee to Protect Bloggers or here for the story on BBC News.

The Iranian press is heavily censored and blogging is one way in which journalists and ordinary Iranians feel able to speak their minds, both amongst themselves and to the outside world. Tomorrow, 22nd February, bloggers all over the world are hoping to voice their protests. Below is the letter I wrote to the Iranian Embassy in London and if you feel the same, I suggest you also write or at the very least, e-mail them. The address is: The Iran Embassy, 16 Prince’s Gate, London, SW7 1PT

Dear Sirs,

I am writing to you regarding the detention of “bloggers” Arash Sigarchi and Mojtaba Saminejad in Iran. It appears that these young men are being imprisoned because of things they wrote on weblogs or on-line journals which displeased the authorities in some way.

I am very lucky to live under a government that protects my freedom of expression. Freedom of expression is the most fundamental human right there is, perhaps even more important than physical liberty. Without listening to one another, we cannot learn anything, we cannot differentiate between what we believe and what we know and we cannot progress as human beings, as a society or as a race.

There is nothing to fear from freedom of expression. A bad idea can only revealed as such by being aired. Bad ideas, when heard against the good ones, can’t bring down worthy governments, shake true faith or confuse the minds of adults as to what is right or wrong. I struggle with the idea that anything said by a man can insult any God who created the universe.

Iran is a country often demonised in the West, especially in recent years. Many of us here remain open-minded, seeing Iran as being in a state of transition and not the big bad dictatorship our governments may like to portray it as. However, this sort of action against bloggers flies in the face of all our optimism about the country and offends the sentiments of the very people who support respect and moderation in the West’s dealings with Iran.

It is for the sake of international relations as well as the democracy and stability of Iran that Mr Sigarchi and Mr Saminejad are released and that nobody else is arrested for merely speaking their mind about political affairs.

Yours faithfully, etc, etc.

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