In one of Al-Rasheed's posts he offers advice on where to find
a cold beer in Baghdad, how to conceal it to avoid any problems
and how to handle a run-in with the Iraqi police.
While alcohol is legal in Iraq, it is not always easy to get
because many liquor businesses closed after "receiving threats
... or had their shops blown up and burnt," Al-Rasheed --
who does not reveal his real name for security reasons -- wrote
Al-Rasheed says he wants his Western readers to "see Iraq
and Baghdad and the situation there through the eyes of an Iraqi
who knows Iraq very well and what is going on."
Westerners can read daily about military clashes and political
turmoil in the region, the lives of everyday citizens are harder
to access. More than 140 Iraqis are blogging in English now, providing
a new lens into the Iraqi experience.
Another blogger, who wished to be identified only as Iraqipundit,
said he feels the mainstream media is not doing enough to represent
"I get frustrated when U.S. newspapers misrepresent the
situation in Iraq," he said. "I hope to offer readers
In Iraq, "direct Internet access at home is rare,"
said Tyler Wagner of IraqSat, an Internet service provider in
Baghdad. "I'd say 30 to 40 percent of people under age 30
in the major cities have access, and 50 to 60 percent in Baghdad.
Older people who have access are typically professionals or employed
in a job that provides it."
Khalid Jarrar, a 24-year-old blogger, agreed that bloggers have
more of an impact on Western readers than local ones. For Jarrar,
who has been blogging on secretsinbaghdad.blogspot.com
since early 2004, blogging has been a life-changing, and possibly
In the summer of 2005, Jarrar was at the University of Baghdad
checking his brother's blog, which focuses on events in Iraq.
He was arrested as he left the campus and accused of seeking international
After a few days in prison, he was able to get word out about
where and why he was being held. Through the Committee to Protect
Bloggers, many of Jarrar's blogger friends and family members
sent word out immediately. Concerned e-mails from readers of Jarrar's
blog flooded the Iraqi Embassy in Washington, D.C.
His brother, 28-year-old Raed Jarrar, said it was that public
pressure that helped free Jarrar after eight days.
"After I left prison I left Iraq immediately," Khalid
said. "My family arranged my departure to Jordan."
Many of those in exile are using their blogs to get in touch
with other activists.
Raed Jarrar reports on raedinthemiddle.blogspot.com
and has lived in Washington, D.C., for nearly two years. He said
his blog has helped him gain recognition in the international
community and become more effective in his civic work.
my blog helped me participate sometimes in a serious way in the
political discourse," he said.
Although both Jarrar brothers note blogging has opened doors
for them and introduced them to other online activists, they feel
voicing their opinions online is not completely safe.
"I had very good friends in America who said they can't
talk to me anymore because they were afraid to get in trouble,"
Khalid said. "A lot of people have those fears."
Even Raed, who regularly speaks publicly on bridging relations
between Iraq and the United States, is cautious about what he
"I don't feel safe in the U.S. because there are many things
like the Patriot Act that can put someone like me in danger of
'justifying terrorism' for saying the Iraqi resistance is legitimate,"
While Raed says he has never been censored by the government
for what he's writing, he does get angry comments and threats
from readers, some of whom are active in the military.
Not all Iraqi bloggers are writing with a political agenda, however.
Khalid said many simply do it for a forum in which to express
their ideas, thoughts, frustrations and triumphs.
"Most are blogging to share their everyday life stories,"
he said. "Not their political parties, affiliations. Just
A 14-year-old Iraqi named Lana, who now lives in Denmark, posts
her thoughts about art, music, and life in Iraq and abroad on
"I'm not a big heavy metal fan, but I used to love punk
music," she writes. "Then it went from punk to grunge
to emo (yes I've been there) to electronic. And now I like pretty
much everything. I wish that Iraq can be a country with a lot
of different music scenes."
On top of her interests in entertainment, Lana said she uses
her blog to vent about the war in Iraq and the violence she's
witnessed. But like most teenagers, her thoughts also bounce from
arts and gossip to politics and sports.
"Today a friend of my mom reminded me of one of the most
important things in Iraq right now. Soccer," she posted in
December. "When Iraq wins a game something happens in the
heart of an Iraqi. I love when I watch games on Al Iraqia and
when Iraq plays. You feel proud of being Iraqi. You can show people
that we're not like other Arabic countries. We are special. ...
Because it makes all people come together. Shia, Sunni, Christian,