December 13, 2008

Hossein Derakhshan_eeb55.JPG

Noted Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan is believed to have been arrested in Iran. He recently went back to Iran on a visit and subsequently disappeared. Jerome at MyDD notes that "Hossein has been at the forefront of the huge Iranian-Persian blogosphere, advocating for the use of the internet as a means for social and political reform in Iran, but he's also made a lot of enemies on both sides, for his non-conformist viewpoints."

Josh Wingrove at the Globe and Mail writes:

...there has been no trace of him since Oct. 30. Iranian reports surfaced soon after that date, citing intelligence sources, saying he had been arrested and charged with spying on behalf of Israel.

Yesterday, through Toronto-based blogger and family friend Nazli Kamvari, Mr. Derakhshan's family said he had been arrested at his residence in Iran on Nov. 1. The family has spoken to him four times since then, each time in a phone call lasting less than one minute, Ms. Kamvari said. But family members haven't heard from Mr. Derakhshan for 13 days, and are now becoming worried.

"Every time he's been like, 'I'm okay,' " said Ms. Kamvari, 29. "They're very confused."

It's no more likely that Derakhsan is an Israeli spy than that I am. Mark MacKinnon writes:

I met Hossein once, and yes it was in Jerusalem. But he walked the streets proudly wearing an "I Love Tehran" T-shirt (probably the first one ever worn in Israel) in an over-the-top effort to challenge stereotypes and tackle the misconceptions that exist in both Tel Aviv and Tehran.

Yes, he was a critic of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. Yes, he openly admired the Israel and the West. But he was also fiercely proud of his Iranian heritage, and called Iran the freest country in the Middle East after Israel. Though himself an atheist, he expressed admiration for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

I heartily endorse MacKinnon's call for Derakhsan's release.

On a more personal note; I've written a lot about the false narratives surrounding Western debate over Iran's nuclear program and other accusations designed to inflame Western opinion towards armed intervention there. But occasions like this make me more aware that I am a reluctant apologist for a truly odious regime on the subject. It's a theocracy disguised with some democratic trappings, even the moderates aren't moderate at all by my usual standards and it violently represses it's own people in their free expressions of greivance or dissent. None of which are sufficient reasons to go to war with Iran rather than any number of other similiar regimes. The anti-Iran narrative in the West which centers around its nuclear ambitions is circumstantial at best and often entirely fabricated by groups who want the US to change the Iranian regime by force for their own selfish reasons. Some so that they themselves can be the new dictators, others for the even less palatable reason of ideology. I can't sit idly by and watch such a push for war with Iran on false pretenses even if I do find the Iranian regime odious. Two wrongs really don't make a moral right.

Crossposted from Newshoggers

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