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Witnessing the Courage of Iran, Part 2

BBC photo from Tehran today

BBC photo from Tehran today

Here is a new thread on the courageous Iranian protesters and their fight for freedom. Please use the comments to post any news you have and to discuss the ongoing situation.

Roger Cohen has a new report from Iran at the New York Times. He thinks Ayatolla Khamenei may have miscalculated with yesterday’s hardline speech followed by the bloodshed today.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, had used his Friday sermon to declare high noon in Tehran, warning of “bloodshed and chaos” if protests over a disputed election persisted.

He got both on Saturday — and saw the hitherto sacrosanct authority of his office challenged as never before since the 1979 revolution birthed the Islamic Republic and conceived for it a leadership post standing at the very flank of the Prophet. A multitude of Iranians took their fight through a holy breach on Saturday from which there appears to be scant turning back.

Khamenei has taken a radical risk. He has factionalized himself, so losing the arbiter’s lofty garb, by aligning himself with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against both Mir Hussein Moussavi, the opposition leader, and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a founding father of the revolution.

He has taunted millions of Iranians by praising their unprecedented participation in an election many now view as a ballot-box putsch. He has ridiculed the notion that an official inquiry into the vote might yield a different result. He has tried pathos and he has tried pounding his lectern. In short, he has lost his aura.

Cohen also notes the continuing involvement of Iranian women in the protests.

I also know that Iran’s women stand in the vanguard. For days now, I’ve seen them urging less courageous men on. I’ve seen them get beaten and return to the fray. “Why are you sitting there?” one shouted at a couple of men perched on the sidewalk on Saturday. “Get up! Get up!”

Another green-eyed woman, Mahin, aged 52, staggered into an alley clutching her face and in tears. Then, against the urging of those around her, she limped back into the crowd moving west toward Freedom Square. Cries of “Death to the dictator!” and “We want liberty!” accompanied her.

There were people of all ages. I saw an old man on crutches, middle-aged office workers and bands of teenagers. Unlike the student revolts of 2003 and 1999, this movement is broad.

“Can’t the United Nations help us?” one woman asked me. I said I doubted that very much. “So,” she said, “we are on our own.”

I can’t help but hope that these brave people win their batter for more freedom.

Robert Fisk has also posted a new story from Iran at The Independent UK. He also believes that Khamenei has made a serious error by his decision to support Ahmadinejad instead of remaining neutral.

Now that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, has placed himself shoulder to shoulder with his officially elected president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the very existence of the Islamic regime may now be questioned openly in a nation ever more divided between reformists and those who insist on maintaining the integrity of the 1979 revolution. Had Khamenei chosen a middle ground, some small compromises towards the countless millions – for in the election, it appears, they were indeed uncounted – who oppose Ahmadinejad, then he might have remained a neutral father-figure. Mir Hossein Mousavi and his supporters had religiously – in the most literal sense of the word – refused to criticise the Supreme Leader or the existence of the Islamic Republic during last week’s street demonstrations

But reacting as all revolutionaries do even decades after they have come to power – for the spectre of counter-revolution remains with them until death – Khamenei chose to paint Ahmadinejad’s political opponents as potential mercenaries, spies and agents of foreign powers. Treason in the Islamic Republic is, of course, punishable by death. But Khamenei’s political alliance with his very odd and hallucinatory president may have sprung from fear as much as anger.

Some other recent articles of interest:

Violence Grips Tehran Amid Crackdown (New York Times news page)

The consequences of engaging Iran (BBC News)

Iran opposition leader calls for purge of ‘lies’ (Reuters)

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47 Responses

  1. Brava! Sending good thoughts and goodwill to the people of Iran, who are protesting for their rights and their Freedom.

    Shout out to the women: Go Women Go! Your strength humbles me and gives me hope for the world and its women. Brava!

  2. Found this on the following site and thought it beautiful and appropriate tonight::


    Iran, I weep for you tonight
    I weep for the 8
    I weep for the hopes of millions dashed to the ground.
    Tonight the night sky is devoid of stars, except one.

    The Persian sky has turned from the green to black
    and the world watches,
    and I pray.

    Iran, O Great Persia,
    I weep for you tonight,
    yet amidst the charcoal ballots
    “a tender shoot, like a root out of dry ground”.

    “Despised and rejected”… by many
    Misunderstood and misrepresented… by more
    “No beauty or majesty to attract us to him”

    (like a politician),
    “He will not shout or cry out,
    or raise his voice in the streets.

    A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
    In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
    he will not falter or be discouraged
    till he establishes justice on earth”.

    He wept over Jerusalem long ago:
    “If you, even you,
    had only known on this day
    what would bring you peace
    —but now it is hidden from your eyes.”

    He weeps for you tonight, O beloved Iran,
    for the millions,
    for the 8.

    A bloody, barren tree stands,
    neglected on the outskirts of Tehran,
    with a placard nailed to it:

    “Where is My Lover?”

    The lone star descends tonight
    pierced arms open wide for embrace
    walking the streets of Tehran,
    searching for His Lover…

    eager for their honeymoon called Freedom

    (Re-posted from last thread: Witnessing the Courage” in Iran)

  3. Thank you, Confluence. The coverage on this site of all of the poliitcal events has compelled me to weigh, broaden and reconsider my perspective on so many things.

    I am more than deeply stirred. I am changed.

    • What a wonderful thing to say! Thank you so much. We really have been trying very hard.

  4. Mousavi we will stand beside you – we will die beside you – Allah Akbar – peace be upon all man – #Iranelection
    about 1 hour ago from web

  5. Thanks, bb. You guys have been amazing. 🙂

    Is it just me or does it seem as if most of the English speaking journalists who have remained in Iran and are doing a good job are British? As much as we can learn from Iranians about standing up for freedom, I think we should try to find out how British journalists get their training and if we can’t follow their lead.

  6. Reports on Twitter and CNN of home invasions by militia in Iran.

  7. I’m not sure if this site has been posted before. Some of the pictures are graphic.


  8. Just posted: video of police attacking protesters.

    • These people are so brave. They are truly putting their live on the line for freedom.

      • Freedom has a price. People purchase it through blood, sweat and tears. Sadly, there is no other way to ensure it.

  9. Is MSNBC still voting present with their doc bloc? Stay classy, Mostly-Shit-N-Biased-Coverage.

  10. Definitely OT but did you hear Terry O’Neil won the N.O.W. presidency?

    • Wow! What a repudiation of Gandy! I’m sorry for Lyles because she may be great and just got caught in Kim’s crossfire, but that’s a strong statement that the membership is not happy with the direction they’ve taken.

      • Yeah, I thought Lyles was going to win but honestly I am very happy that O’Neil won. Let’s see if they can make up for their past mistakes.

  11. Hello, even though I still read TC every day, I stopped commenting after the election. Here is my.02 cents: I wish blogs would dial back the sanctimonious crap about the evil Iranian regime against their people. Do you remember the armed government presence at our two political conventions last year? Just imagine one million people descending on Denver shouting fraud and ignoring the police. What type of video images do you think the would would have seen? The difference between Americans and Iranians is that we have been domesticated, like pets. Iranians are still alive inside.

    My .02 cents. Keep up the good work TC.

  12. Thomas – your meaning is unclear.

    • Iranians have lost their fear of their government. We are still afraid of ours. Governments should be afraid of their people. Until then, change can not occur.

      • Thomas said:

        “The difference between Americans and Iranians is that we have been domesticated, like pets. Iranians are still alive inside. ”

        “Iranians have lost their fear of their government. We are still afraid of ours.”

        No truer words have ever been spoken, Thomas.

        I might only add – we not only put our freedoms in our government’s hands, we stopped believing somewhere along the line that they were merely the paid custodians for ensuring protection of OUR rights and interests.

        You can tell a corrupt government when the content of its propaganda is that its citizens must yield to its government, instead of the other way around.

        • When did we forget “…government of the people, by the people, for the people”?

          • Thomas, on June 21st, 2009 at 12:36 am Said:

            “When did we forget “…government of the people, by the people, for the people”?

            Perhaps, when our government started using our “military” as an offensive weapon for positioning instead of a legitimate defense for protection of its people.

            Our government’s abuse of power not only lulled We The People into a false sense of security… but a complacency regarding how such abuse of power could ultimately transcend our own freedoms and Constitutional Rights.

  13. Now they are reporting that the injured are being arrested as they go to the hospital for help.

  14. I’m overly entertained by the fact that two of my posts here came up under possibly (but not actually) related posts.

  15. I’m starting to believe the Iranian people have a real chance in their struggle. Perhaps we could learn a lesson from them.

    Jefferson was right. A revolution every so often inhibits tyranny.

  16. Thomas:
    Too late.

    The the Pentagon has already placed “protesting” in the category of “low-level terrorist acts”.

    Snitches on Campus – hmmm.

  17. Someone please dig up Reagan.


  18. Confluence coverage and discussion of these historical events has been outstanding. I’m amazed by the involvement of so many women there. It really makes me think that the Iranians are just sick of living under a totalitarian regime that’s ideology (Shariah) believes we should all live in a society that existed in the 8th century.

    It has evolved into much more than Mousavi’s election.

  19. well, I am happy that Obama finally made a statement condemning the violence directed towards protesters.

    I’d probably favor him more for it if I didn’t have such a strong memory of him having a delegate kicked who said she would not vote for him and how they made people how they had fencing and contained protesters like cattle themselves.

    Still I am glad he made a statement.

    • Well, exactly. About all he can say is a condemnation of violence. Otherwise, it comes back at him, full force. He can’t really say “Count the votes”.

  20. cnnbrkWitnesses: Security forces surrounding headquarters of Iran’s state television and radio

  21. Andrew Sullivan is following this again today. Observers continue to note the large part played by women in this uprising. It also appears that there’s a major rift among Iran’s clerics, with Mousavi’s clerical supporters favoring separation of state and faith. This strikes at the root of Ayatollah Khomeini’s interpretation of the authority of the clergy over the government,, which the dissidents see more as corrupting Islam rather than bringng the state into conformity with the Qu’ran.

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