Thursday, February 12, 2009

Toronto Blogger Faces Death

[as originally posted 12/31/08 on my formerly free thinking blog ]

Look at the face above people - remember it.

It is now apparent that a renowned blogger, a Canadian Citizen, is
facing death in Iran. Unlike most of us, 33 year old Hossein Derakhshan may find himself paying the ultimate price for what we Canadian bloggers generally take for granted - freedom of speech.

His crime? Well, Iranian officials originally claimed on December 30th that the "well-known" blogger, who has been in detention since November, was facing charges of "insulting religious figures." Less than 24 hours later, however, it was being reported that Iran had misspoke. It now seems that Mr. Derakhshan is facing the death penalty for being an Israeli spy! Fortuitous timing we say; what with Gaza and all.

According to the Toronto Sun the basis for the charge seem to stem from trips Mr. Derakhshan made to "Israel as a 'citizen journalist and peace activist' to show his '20,000 daily Iranian readers what Israel looks like.'" CBC reports that "he was travelling on his Canadian passport, ... to show citizens of both Iran and Israel that each of their governments were wrong to demonize the other's society." Clearly a threat to Iran's status-quo. Both sources acknowledge that, Mr. Derakhshan, an outspoken critic of Iranian clerics, is generally regarded as instrumental in facilitating greater Iranian blogger participation on the Internet.

No worries though, the Canadian Government is on the case! Given their recent successes in these types of cases, what can there be to worry about? Oh, except the fact that seven weeks on, according to AFP, our Canadian authorities have yet to be given consular access to the man. So aside from that, nothing to worry about.

As we Western bloggers usher in the New Year, secure in our knowledge that we are free to rant, free to rave, and free to lambaste without consequence; let us raise a glass in honour of Mr. Derakhshan: A man who signs his pieces, who believes in what he says and who may pay a price dearer than any we smug cynics would ever be willing to pay for our freedom.

Happy New Year all!

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