In September 2001, a young Iranian journalist, Hossein Derakhshan, created one of the first weblogs in Farsi. When he also devised a simple how-to-blog guide for Iranians, it unleashed a torrent of hitherto unheard opinions. There are now 64,000 blogs in Farsi, and Nasrin Alavi has painstakingly reviewed them all, weaving the most powerful and provocative into a striking picture of the flowering of dissent in Iran.
From one blogger’s blasting of the Supreme Leader as a “pimp” to another’s mourning for an identity crushed by the stifling protection of her male relatives, this collection functions not only as an archive of Iranians’ thoughts on their country, culture, religion, and the rest of the world, but also as an alternative recent history of Iran. Government crackdowns may soon still these voices — in February 2005, one blogger was sentenced to 14 years in jail — and We Are Iran may serve as the only serious record of their existence.