Iran In Turmoil

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on June 15, 2009

protests-in-iran-2Events in the country now recall the tactics used by the Islamic Revolution:

Using Web chat lines, phone calls and word of mouth, the message was passed for Mousavi’s backers to shout “death to the dictator” and “Allahu Akbar.” The historical connection of the act was hugely significant for Iranians. It was how the leader of the Islamic Revolution, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, asked the country to unite in protest against the monarchy and was used later to mark its anniversary.

In one neighborhood, anti-riot police tried to disperse people joining in the cries from a street corner, but the crowds threw rocks at the officers and they withdrew.

Much more here. Of course, the regime is desperately seeking to dismiss the significance of these acts, and is continuing to censor pro-Mousavi sites, prevent the printing of Mousavi’s newspaper, and–through Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s boastful statements–joking about the possibility that Mousavi himself may be under arrest.

Needless to say, civilized people should be appalled by such behavior. And needless to say, Iran’s leaders–being different from the people they seek to lead–are hardly civilized.

Meanwhile, the regime is trying to keep news of the protests–and the general state of upheaval–from filtering out of Iran:

Several foreign news organisations complained Sunday that Iranian authorities were blocking their reporters from covering protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election.

German public television channels ZDF and ARD said their reporters were not allowed to broadcast their reports, while the BBC said the signals of its Persian services were being jammed from Iran.

The Dubai-based Arab news channel Al-Arabiya in Tehran was forbidden from working for a week and Dutch broadcaster Nederland 2 said its journalist and cameraman were arrested and ordered to leave the country.

Actual democrats don’t act like this. And this behavior alone should be enough to rouse the international community to action.


More news: Pro-Mousavi demonstrations have been banned, though now, Ali Khamene’i, the Supreme Leader, has initiated a probe of election fraud. Of course, the regime will come back and claim that it has found nothing, but none of the demonstrators in Iran should accept that. Instead, they should view this action as evidence of the possibility that the regime is losing its nerve, and be emboldened as a consequence. An insider’s account of the demonstrations going on in Iran indicates that it will be very difficult indeed for the regime to just shut off the turmoil. It would be nice if the Obama Administration would do a little something to show the reformists that the United States takes matters seriously, but one wonders whether they will summon the nerve; as I write here, while there are definite dangers associated with over-involvement on the part of the United States, there are dangers associated with under-involvement as well.

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