As the Iranian people prepare for a day of protests across Iran on December 7, the Iranian government has stepped up its efforts to halt the flow of news out of the country. Already the government has banned as many reformist news sites as it possibly can, jailed reformist journalists and bloggers and restricted internet access across the country. As if that were not enough, it also banned all foreign media journalists in Iran from leaving their residences and revoked their permits from December 7 to 9. But this is all they can do to stop the flow of news.
What they can't do is stop the thousands of Iranians and their non-Iranian supporters from spreading the news that they get from Iranians inside the country online. There is literally an army of these people who in a few hours will be doing only one thing -- spreading news about the protests on Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, LiveJournal, YouTube, MySpace, Photobucket and every available bit of space on the internet they can get their keyboard and mouse on.
While the Iranian community abroad certainly has an interest in the affairs of Iran, and its participation could be seen as a sign of patriotism -- the involvement of non-Iranians gives a bystander new hope about the future prospects of mankind. Surprisingly enough, few of these individuals are professional human rights activists, journalists or political junkies. What unites them is greater than any occupation. They come from different countries, speak different languages and their skin is beautiful shades of the same color -- the color of humanity. That is the banner under which they have united.
Their stories are different: a skinny girl from Israel who loves her country, a yoga instructor from Germany who's fascinated by Asia and a Phillies fan from Pennsylvania who admires President Bush for his faith. But they are all united by one cause, one desire and one goal -- to help stop the Iranian government from muffling the voices of its citizens.
Already, some are preparing for the big day. One Twitter user made lunch and dinner for her children in the morning so she could tweet uninterrupted throughout day and at night. A Facebook user spent hours creating a page online to thwart the Iranian regime's attempts at spreading disinformation. A YouTube user called sick to work so he could spend the day uploading videos.
Many in the US kept telling each other to sleep during the day so they could stay focused through the night, when it's morning in Iran because of the time difference. Others reinstalled their computers or ran lengthy virus checks to ensure maximum productivity. One supporter told me he'd borrowed his brother's laptop so he could upload videos of the protest on his PC and tweet using the laptop.
As the Iranian people go out on the streets of Tehran to demand justice, these amazing people will sit behind their desktops or laptops or hold their blackberries or iPhones and get to work. They will tweet bits of news, live-blog on their blogs, upload photos to Photobucket and videos to YouTube and make frantic phone calls to let the world know. Sure, their work is not considered quality journalism by the mainstream media, but what they will accomplish tonight -- and what they have accomplished in these past several months - is greater than that. They are living proof that despite of all the ethnic, linguistic, religious, political, geographical and historical divides -- humanity shines ever brighter today.
The Iranian government has done what it can, but it has failed before and it will fail again. It won't be able to muffle everyone's voice. The voices of the people of Iran will be heard. If foreign journalists are barred from being the voice of the Iranian people, the Iranian people will still speak up. And Iranians abroad and citizens of the world have and will take matters into their own hands to ensure that Iranian cries for justice are heard loud and clear. Humanity will prevail.
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