More than 70 per cent of the Iranian nation are under 30
Today Farsi is the fourth most used language in the world for keeping blogs.
There are more Iranian blogs than there are Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese or Russian
There are 64,000 bloggers writing in Farsi in Iran; some would put the figure nearer a million.
WE ARE IRAN is a book containing raw blog extracts - which are emotional, affecting, surprising, tragic, terrible and uplifting - above all so human. These are embedded in
running text which explains the terrible modern history of Iran in a succinct and readable manner. How the US conspired with Iran against the British and then used the CIA to unseat the most democratic leader the country had ever had (an earlier example of 'regime change', before Allende even), replacing him with the Shah, who lived a life of cruelty and opulence, only to be overthrown by the Ayatollah, who opened the door to our new world of islamic extremism, humiliated Jimmy Carter and ordered the fatwah on Salman Rushdie.
Then there was the war with Iraq - little remembered now in the West - in which the US sold arms to Iraq. It began in September 1980. Iraq attacked western Iran, launching the longest conventional war of the 20th century (1980-88) in which more than a million people were killed on both sides.
Since April 2003 the authorities have been arresting bloggers. Iran had already earned the reputation of being 'the biggest prison for journalists in the Middle East', says Reporter sans Frontieres.
This book takes you right into the heart and soul of the people of Iran today in a dramatic and powerful way. The role of women is particularly important and their search for freedom is one of the biggest threats to the power of the mullahs and their Morality Police.
Iran is the only islamic state that has such a long experience of both secular and religious government. They have a rich culture, steeped in art and learning, and a young population who, having been denied the products and ideas of the West, have naturally created their own underground and found it all anyway - but in a more secret fashion.
These blogs are brimming with life, speaking out to us. It is important we get to know the young Iranians and begin opening dialogues between us. I feel this personally because, according to my site meter, which displays a world map of recent hits, one week The Generalist was visted by a blogger from Iran.
70% of the population of Iran is under 30. Just remember that. Read this book as if your life depended on it.
WE ARE IRAN by Nasrin Alavi is published by Portobello Books Ltd.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT IRAN
Read 'Which Planet Are You on' by John Vidal in The Guardian, an interview with Massoumeh Ebtekar, the former environment minister and first female vice-president of Iran. She reveals: 'Nuclear in Iran goes back to the Shah. He had a feasibility study done by Stanford University, which recommended it. It was an American idea that we have nuclear power.'
Iran in Wikipedia
New York Times: World news about Iran, including breaking news and archival articles.
IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency: The official news agency of Iran. Minute by minute coverage of Iran events in both Farsi and English.