Web PM

Iran's president launches weblog

BBC | August 14 2006

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has joined a burgeoning international community - by starting his own weblog.

The launch of www.ahmadinejad.ir was reported on state TV, which urged users to send in messages to the president.

Mr Ahmadinejad's first posting, entitled autobiography, tells of his childhood, Iran's Islamic revolution, and the country's war with Iraq.

The blog includes a poll asking if users think the US and Israel are trying to trigger a new world war.

There is a postform for users to send in questions for the president, and a picture gallery containing a series of images of the blogger himself.

The move by Mr Ahmadinejad comes amid continuing internet censorship by the Iranian government.

In a country where the media is strictly controlled, the internet has become the main forum for dissident voices.

But in its bid to crack down on anti-government bloggers, the government uses one of the most sophisticated internet censorship systems in the world.

Such restrictions will not pose a problem for the president. However, at the end of his first posting - which runs to more than 2,000 words in English - he promises to try to keep things "shorter and simpler" in future.

"With hope in God, I intend to wholeheartedly complete my talk in future with allotted 15 minutes," he writes.

Nose bleed

Mr Ahmadinejad's first entry on his blog, which is available in Persian, Arabic, English and French and includes an RSS feed to get future new entries to readers, is dated Friday.

He begins by telling users of his humble origins. "During the era that nobility was a prestige and living in a city was perfection, I was born in a poor family in a remote village of Garmsar - approximately 90 kilometres west of Tehran," he writes.

His father was a "hard-bitten toiler blacksmith" and a "pious man", who had decided to move the family to Tehran when Mr Ahmadinejad was just a year old.

Describing himself as a "distinguished student", the president tells how he excelled at school, coming 132nd out of more than 400,000 students to take a university entrance test - despite suffering from a nose bleed at the time.

He talks about his admiration and affection for the leader of the Islamic revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and discusses Iran's war with Iraq, calling former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein an "aggressor" who was "intoxicated with power".

The US is also heavily criticised by the president. At one point he describes it as "Great Satan USA" for what he says was its support for the "terrorist groups" which had tried to collapse Iran's Islamic government.

And the blog's current poll asks the question: "Do you think that the US and Israeli intention and goal by attacking Lebanon is pulling the trigger for another world war?"

'Publicity stunt'

It is not yet clear how well Mr Ahmadinejad's blog will be received. User figures already appear high - by 1100 BST on Monday, nearly 12,000 people had taken part in the online vote.

But Keivan Mehrgan, a Tehran-based blogger, told the Associated Press news agency he thought the president's efforts were merely a publicity stunt.

"Ahmadinejad used to have nothing to do with the internet and even talked against journalists and bloggers before he became president," he was quoted as saying.

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