Iranian President Gets Personal in New Blog

Iran's hardline president has started blogging, recounting childhood memories, the country's Islamic Revolution and Tehran's war with Iraq in his first entry.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Web log also requests that readers participate in an online poll asking if they think the United States and Israel are "pulling the trigger for another world war."

State-run television announced the blog's launch Sunday, urging the public to send written messages to the president through the blog's Web site .

The blog is an unusual move by the conservative president, whose government has censored Internet sites it deems inappropriate and cracked down on bloggers who have posted anti-government messages since he was elected a year ago. Many of the clerics who support Ahmadinejad also have shunned the use of advance technology, though other hard-liners have sent cell phone campaign messages to the public in the past.

CountryWatch: Iran

But Keivan Mehrgan, a Tehran-based blogger, said Ahmadinejad's blog — which is translated into English, French and Arabic — is nothing more than a publicity stunt.

"It's nothing but for publicity. Why Ahmadinejad used to have nothing to do with Internet and even talked against journalists and bloggers before he became president," Mehrgan said.

In his blog, the president writes that he grew up in a poor family in a village 90 kilometers (56 miles) east of Tehran. But his father, a "hard-bitten" and "pious" blacksmith, moved the family to Tehran when Ahmadinejad was 1 years old to try to make a better life for his family, he wrote.

Ahmadinejad said the Islamic Revolution patriarch Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini began to appeal to him when the ayatollah was in exile in the 1960s and 70s.

"The more I became familiar with his thought and philosophy, the more affection I had for that divine leader and his separation and absence was intolerable for me," he wrote, as translated into English.

Because his father's "sledgehammer and anvil" could not cover the family's expenses, Ahmadinejad said he started working as a high school student in a shop that made cooling system parts. He continued with his studies even when "certain activities against the illegitimate regime of the monarch in Iran," kept him busy, he wrote.

Ahmadinejad also used his blog entry to bash the United States and give his musings about the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the 1980-88 war with Iraq, when he served in the elite Revolutionary Guards.

"The global arrogance had determine to defeat the Islamic Revolution of the Iran at all costs," he wrote. "The reason was that they were afraid that this revolution will become a model and ideal path for other nations in the region and in the world."

He called former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein the "aggressor" in the war and wrote that international organizations tried to "distort and hide the facts that Saddam was the aggressor and that the arrogant powers had fully supported him."

At the end of the blog, which is dated Friday and is more than 2,000 words in English, Ahmadinejad promised to keep it shorter in his next entry.

"From now onwards, I will try to make it shorter and simpler," he wrote.