Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Slow Down; Wait For The Cleribloggers

[Posted by reader_iam]

Iran puts the breaks on high-speed internet connections.
Iran's Islamic government has opened a new front in its drive to stifle domestic political dissent and combat the influence of western culture - by banning high-speed internet links.

In a blow to the country's estimated 5 million internet users, service providers have been told to restrict online speeds to 128 kilobytes a second and been forbidden from offering fast broadband packages. The move by Iran's telecommunications regulator will make it more difficult to download foreign music, films and television programmes, which the authorities blame for undermining Islamic culture among the younger generation. It will also impede efforts by political opposition groups to organise by uploading information on to the net.
The telecoms regulator declined to explain the decision but said it was taken by "a collection of policy-makers". However, Etemad, a pro-reformist newspaper, suggested it was part of an official campaign to stem a western "cultural invasion".

Not to worry, though: The office of religious weblogs expansion is on the job to fill the content gap caused by cutting off access to the decadent West and the postings of dissident voices from within Iran.
The craze for blogging in Iran has reached an unlikely set of disciples - the country's conservative Islamic clerics.

Following the example of the President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, ayatollahs, seminary students and theologians are receiving training in setting up their own blogs.

Courses run by the newly established office of religious weblog expansion have begun in the holy city of Qom, the traditional home of the country's religious establishment.

Students more used to poring over the theological nuances of the Koran will receive instruction on practical matters such as blog content and technical support. About 300 clerics, religious students and writers have been signed up.

I wonder if that training will emphasize the very first lesson that Ahmadinejad reportedly took to heart when he started blogging: “From now onwards, I will try to make it simpler and shorter”.

No such luck, I'll bet. Those who would restrict the freedom of speech or expression of others inevitably are the windiest of all.