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June 11, 2009

Obama and the Iranian Election

We've been watching the Farsi blogosphere in the lead up to this very exciting Iranian election.  Iran's blogosphere, always one of the most interesting and dynamic in the world, has been buzzing with political activity, and a number of new blogs have come online to support the candidates.  The Berkman Center's Internet and Democracy blog has a post with some maps showing who is linking to campaign sites for the two top contenders, Mahmood Ahmadinejad and Mir-Hussein Mousavi.  The main contrast is between the concentration of Ahmadinejad's supporters within the "conservative politics" region, and the wide spread of links to Mousavi across the map, including within groups of bloggers who normally shy away from politics.  This probably bodes well for Mousavi, if it indicates he has energized voters outside the politicized Reformist base.

A similar pattern of reaching beyond the politicized blogs was clear before last year's American election, when non-political American blogs were linking to pro-Obama videos.  The efforts of the Iranian candidates to learn from the Obama campaign have been widely reported (see Four Obama Copycats Aim to Get Iran's Presidential Crown and Inspired by Obama, Iran's Presidential Candidates Go Online to Campaign).

Something else very striking is how many bloggers are talking about President Obama.  The Map below shows bloggers who have mentioned "Obama" in the last month.  It is not only Reformist or secular bloggers who are talking about the US president, but a swath of conservative and religious bloggers as well.  In fact the only Iranian bloggers not talking about him appear to be the poets, who are usually focused on verses about love and loss anyway.



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