Countless Iranians have taken to the streets, challenging the outcome of the country's recent presidential poll, and forcing Iran's powerful Guardian Council to agree to recount disputed votes. A fortnight ago this would have not seemed possible. What are the implications for the rest of the Middle East: states where the outcome of elections is invariably a foregone conclusion, and others where the concept of an election - free or otherwise - is non-existent? Anxiously watching, oppressive regimes in the region may be trembling at the thought that events currently unfolding in Iran will, at some point, spill over to their own oppressed populations.
My father was an immigrant in France during the fifties and at the start of the sixties. For seven years he had no way of speaking to his family. Fortunately for me, my immigration experience today is drastically different from his; I call my parents on my mobile when I want and thanks to Skype I speak to my sister almost every day. I can share emails, voice messages, text messages, photos and videos with relatives and friends all over the world. But when immigrants abuse globalisation it also creates narrow-mindedness and ghettoisation. I know many immigrants who follow television programmes from their own countries every day thanks to satellite channels, and in this setting the globalisation of communication can stand in the way of an immigrant’s integration process.
With the increasing importance of citizen journalism on the Internet, which has burgeoned since blogging started to gain popularity in 2003, the new media are not only impacting mainstream journalism but the political process itself. Last year the World Bank reported that Egypt, with more than 4 million Internet users, had the highest rate of Internet access among non-oil Arab states. But having expanded access, Mubarak is now trying to reassert state authority over cyberspace by expanding the state security service into the virtual public arena. The more promising hope of the Internet for citizens in their quest for political reform lies in the potential for blogs to galvanize, inspire and organize.
In 2009, European year of Creativity and Innovation, and in our society, defined as the “knowledge society”, at a distance of four hundred years from Galileo’s “heresy”, there is any hope to be “authentically heretic”? Internet, real instrument of democracy, gives everyone the opportunity to get knowledge, entering an almost infinite number of sources and information.