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Exiled Iranian Blogger Critical Of Revolutionary Guards' Plan To Blog

Source: RFE/RL

Cartoon by
Nikahang Kowsar, an exiled Iranian cartoonist, showing transition from Rastakhiz single-party system under Shah to another one under Islamic Republic

An exiled Iranian political cartoonist and blogger says the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) plan to conduct a "soft war" against Iran's "enemies" is flawed because of the government's ideology, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

The IRGC commander in the holy city of Qom, General Ebrahim Jabari, said on September 7 that some 2,000 Basij members would be taught to operate blogs for what he called a "soft war" against "enemies."

Toronto-based opposition cartoonist and blogger Nikahang Kowsar told RFE/RL on September 8 that "I think members of the Revolutionary Guard are going to intervene in different social networks in cyberspace, as the government has found itself vulnerable in this field."

Kowsar said the government believed a "soft war" is necessary because the Internet is currently the opposition Green Movement's most powerful tool.

He added that one of the aims of the IRGC's new "cyberprogram" was to divide the opposition.

Kowsar said a psychological war on the Internet "is a key part of this plan, as most Iranian bloggers inside the country have nicknames for their blogs and it makes it difficult for the authorities to arrest them."

He told RFE/RL that "when the [government] cannot arrest people and suppress individuals in cyberspace they will have to challenge people by having people argue for it online."

But Kowsar argued that the Iranian government's "ideology" was its biggest problem and it could not be successful arguing online as long as it promotes its current policies. "This will not be effective as [the government] is suffering from its ideology," he said.

Yet Kowsar noted that there were some individuals who are famous in the social-networking scene and ready to serve online for the IRGC. He said such people could actually have a negative impact on the Green Movement's efforts.

Kowsar was one of Iran's most famous political cartoonist before being arrested in 2000 for a cartoon he made of "Professor Crocodile," a reference to Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, strangling a journalist. He was imprisoned before going into exile in Canada.


Copyright (c) 2010 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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