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January 20, 2006

TIME magazine online edition, Posted Sunday, Jan. 15, 2006
As the editor of the Iranian Feminist Tribune, a website devoted to women's issues, Parvin Ardalan used to sit at her home computer each night, posting news articles on the site that the country's print press would never carry. She spread the word about sit-ins and seminars. At its busiest, the site attracted 70,000 visitors a day. But late last year, Ardalan received a text message from a friend informing her that the site had disappeared. Along with thousands of other websites--including opposition blogs like regimechange.blogspot.com and online retailers like Bloomingdales.com--the Feminist Tribune was blocked as part of a censorship campaign by Iran's new hard-line government but is still accessible outside Iran. "We lost one of our greatest tools," Ardalan says. "It's hindered our work, which I suppose was the goal."

For Western governments as much as for activists like Ardalan, the aims of the Iranian regime grow more alarming every day. Led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's elected government--whose powers are circumscribed by the country's ruling ayatullahs--has made confrontation the guiding tenet of its policies at home and in the world. The regime made its most provocative move yet last week, resuming work on its uranium-enrichment program, which the U.S. and some of its allies believe is a critical step toward the eventual production of nuclear weapons. The resumption touched off a flurry of international condemnation and raised the likelihood that Iran will be referred to the U.N. Security Council. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared that by resuming enrichment activities, Iran has "shattered the basis for negotiation." >>> See

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