Tehran’s Tiananmen Square?

As protests escalate in Iran, voices in the international media are comparing the scene there to China in 1989 and wondering if Iran is headed toward another June 4th. In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof worries about government efforts to block websites and to expel foreign journalists:

The push to remove witnesses may be the prelude to a Tehran Tiananmen. Yet a secret Internet lifeline remains, and it’s a tribute to the crazy, globalized world we live in. The lifeline was designed by Chinese computer engineers in America to evade Communist Party censorship of a repressed Chinese spiritual group, the Falun Gong.

Today, it is these Chinese supporters of Falun Gong who are the best hope for Iranians trying to reach blocked sites.

“We don’t have the heart to cut off the Iranians,” said Shiyu Zhou, a computer scientist and leader in the Chinese effort, called the Global Internet Freedom Consortium. “But if our servers overload too much, we may have to cut down the traffic.”

Mr. Zhou said that usage of the consortium’s software has tripled in the last week. It set a record on Wednesday of more than 200 million hits from Iran, representing more than 400,000 people.

On his blog, Sam Crane outlines what he sees as the similarities between Iran 2009 and China 1989, while a commentator on MSNBC’s blog asks if we are witnessing Iran’s Tiananmen Square.

June 18, 2009 6:54 PM
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