16 April 2007

Baghdad Blogger

My name is Salam Pax and I am addicted to blogs… It is slightly voyeuristic, especially those really personal blogs: day-to-day, mundane... [but] glimpses of lives so different, and so much amazing writing. No politics, just people's lives; how they deal with pain or grief, how they share their happy moments with anybody who cares to read.

And I cared. We had no access to satellite TV, and magazines had to be smuggled into the country; through blogs I could take a peek at a different world. Satellite TV and the web were on Saddam's list of things that will corrupt you. Having a satellite dish was punishable with jail and a hefty fine because these channels would twist our minds and make us do bad things. They spread immoral values. Of course he and his buddies were incorruptible so they could watch all the satellite TV they wanted.

With internet access from home, life changed...Of course, the [regime] blocked certain search terms and they did actually have a bunch of people looking at URL requests going through their servers.

With attention [to my blog] came the fear that someone in Iraq might actually read, since it had entered warblog territory. But… if [the authorities] knew about it I would already have been hanging from a ceiling being asked about anti-governmental activities...

By the end of January war felt very close and the blog was being read by a huge number of people. There were big doubts that I was writing from Baghdad, the main argument being there was no way such a thing could stay under the radar for so long in a police state... The questions people were asking me became more difficult and the amount of angry mail I was getting became unbelievable. People wanted coherence and a clear stand for or against war. All I had was doubt and uncertainty.

I just felt that it was important that among all the weblogs about Iraq and the war there should be at least one Iraqi blog, one single voice: no matter how you view my politics, there was at least someone talking. I was sometimes really angry at the various articles in the press telling the world about how Iraqis feel and what they were doing when they were living in an isolated world.

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