Protesting the amnesty given to Muqtada al-Sadr, Jeffrey is shutting down his blog Iraqi Bloggers Central. IBC, which operated under several titles, was originally meant as a successor to the defunct Cry Me a Riverbend, providing a place for readers to openly discuss "certain Iraqi blogs that don't allow comments". While the original CMAR had to shut down due to death threats, IBC evolved into a popular discussion forum for the various Iraqi blogs (both annotated and comment-free).
For those new to the world of Blogdad, several important debates and meta-debates have been flourishing since the inception of Iraqi blogging last October/November. Among the important questions:
- How do we know whether an Iraqi blog is authentic?
- To what extent does a particular Iraqi blogger represent the Iraqi population as a whole? And what is the role of personal, individual opinions?
- How can non-Iraqis best understand the various, sometimes conflicting views expressed on the Iraqi blogs? And where does a fledgling democracy draw the line between responsible dissent and hostile subversion?
- Given that some Iraqi blogs allow reader comments while others do not, are we permitted to draw inferences about the bloggers' possible biases? That is, does the absence of a comment corner indicate a blogger's unwillingness to face the challenges of open debate?
The passing of Iraqi Bloggers Central will be a big loss to the blogosphere; it's up to the rest of us to pick up the slack and carry on IBC's mission as best we can.