As the rest of the world is discovering, Iran is a rather modern place. With nearly 70% of the population aged under 35, it would be. Men’s hairstyles may have a tad too much hair gel on the go and women may have a liking for bug-eyed sunglasses, but those are regional crimes of fashion to be found from Beirut to Bahrain.
The people you see on the streets can be mistaken for the literati, the loathesome middle-class who aspire towards a higher quality brand and matching furniture. Social onanists – those in touch with themselves who doff a patronising hejab at those who never crossed a University’s door.
But they’re not. What you are seeing is Iran. These young angry voices will, in five years’ time, be more mature. Their positions will carry more gravitas. Nobody likes listening to ideas from a smart alec kid, but they will listen to ideas from a considered adult.
Today, the likes of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mohammad Khatami will be marching in memoriam to those who’ve died in demonstrations over the past few days. They will be wearing black. And they will be going via a mosque or two.
Doctors will attend rallies, some wearing white coats so as to be easily identifiable to the injured. Two million people are expected to attend the Tehran rally at Imam Khomeni Square.
The Supreme Leader is expected to address crowds at Friday prayers tomorrow. He’s shipping in people from the countryside to swell the numbers a bit.
How big is Tehran? Massive. A population of nearly 8 million and packed with flyovers, motorways, and nearly two dozen Universities. The roads are wide and the cars and motorbikes plentiful. The smack problem is a major issue – heroin and opium use across all ages is on the rise, employment is on the decline. However, female entrance into higher education is steadily progressing.
Protesters may not succeed at this junction. Friends in Iran are suffering activist fatigue. They sleep little and march a lot. How long they can keep this up for is not clear. The Islamic Revolution didn’t come out of a shoot-from-the-hip rage. It was a carefully orchestrated overthrow of another regime seen as morally corrupt and financially shady. This is more reactive, without a clear direction or plan of action beyond what emotion dictates.
Mousavi, the man the world now sees as Iran’s Obama, is as much a part of the establishment as the Guardian Council. He was Prime Minister of Iran when snatch squads ensured Tehran’s Evin prison maintained its fearsome notoriety.
Will things change? Depends on what you expect from the word “change”. An overthrow of the Islamic Republic? No. A capitulation in light of a lot of pissed off people wondering why the guy they voted for wasn’t declared President? Much more likely.
American and British pundits egging on the fall of the Ayatollah will fall flat on their faces. Iran does not want a complete overhaul of its government. A lot of it does work for the people it’s meant to work for. Women aren’t clamouring to chuck off the chador nor are men that desperate to get a drink in. Those who are so inclined can find places to do as they please. Such is the Russian doll that is Iran. You see one image, but inside lie half a dozen more. How much an Iranian chooses to show you is their perogative.
This is what I received in a message from a friend this morning. It is their truth, a protester’s truth.
Just a few things to clear up what Fox, BBC or CNN are saying. They are liars, as Ahmadinejad says.
So check this…right from us…the people, the protesters.
1- Iranian government blocked most community and communication websites
2- Iranian government tries to avoid accepting people’s right to protest and calls us rioters and vandals
3- Iranian government abused the election results
4- Over 40 youth have been killed, beaten, or imprisoned.
5- Iranian national TV is in the hands of the system that prevents people from airing their ideas
6- They make fear and beat people with their militia called Basij and abused the name of the old Basij. They now use Basij for killing intellectuals instead of upholding Islam.
7- Basij and police go to streets at night and destroy public property, blame it on protesters, then beat protesters up in the morning.
8- Ahmadinejad has shown that he doesn’t respect Iran and Iranians by calling 13 million of us “thorny twigs” and “mindless anarchists who can be blown away with a breath”.
9 – During the last protest in Tehran, several policemen were spotted wearing green bands. Green is the colour of this protest. The policemen candidly told these protesters that they are with them.
10 – During the protests, on several occasion, Basiji who attacked peaceful protesters were arrested by police. Sources say although this happened in several place, it can’t quite be called a crackdown. A few cases only!
11 – Several Basiji militiamen were spotted laying down their arms and going home after being asked to interfere with the protestors.
12 – The biggest threat people are facing right now are plainclothesmen. They seem to be everywhere and are targeting people from their homes, etc.
who are not in groups. These men have mostly been linked with Ansar e Hezbollah. They are responsible for beating people up, arresting people, threatening protesters, taking reformists
13 – So far, it’s been confirmed that 15 people in Tehran and 32 people around the country have been killed. Hundreds more have been injured and over 800 have been detained. Among these are dozens of reformists. Most of these arrests have been made by the notorious plainclothesmen mentioned earlier.
14 – During yesterday’s protestss, mullahs and Ayatollahs were spotted joining rallies within Tehran and in several other cities. No one could confirm the mullahs’ status within clerical society, but their numbers have been visible.
15 – In addition to Tehran, protests occured in Ahvaz, Mashad, Kermanshah, Qazvin, Shiraz, Tabriz, and Qom.
16 – Pro-Ahmadinejad protesters’ numbers have been greatly exaggerated by the state media in comparison to Mousavi’s supporters. In reality, pro-Ahmadinejad protesters have been identified as either people who work at government offices or people brought in from the countryside to boost the numbers.
17 – After downplaying the protests for days, state-run media finally started to announce news of events more accurately.
18 – Text messaging (SMS) is still down in Iran and internet is extremely slow. People are unable to get satellite channels on their televisions. At the same time, police and plainclothesmen are going door to door taking away people’s satellite dishes.
19 – Mohsen Rezai, one of the candidates, is going to declare his support for a re-election tomorrow. The fourth candidate, Mahdi Karroubi, openly joined yesterday’s rally.
20 – A group of prominent officials at the Ministry of Interior have written a letter to the Guardian Council declaring that they have witnessed widespread irregularities within voting and counting processes during the election. They asked for this matter to be thoroughly investigated.
21 – To date, there no report of the military’s intervention into peaceful protests has been established. Not a single one.
22 – Khatami and Mousavi have both asked the Ministry of Justice to investigate the involvement of plainclothesmen in the violence during protests.
23 – Several eyewitnesses have seen non-Iranian Arabs waving Hamas/Hezbillah flags around the protests. These reports have been fully confirmed and are NOT a rumour spread by Israel.
We are not happy. We distrust media like the BBC. But the government called us followers of the BBC. Lies. Insults for us the people. So we continue to resist and make Ahmadinejad fall on his knees and beg. Until the government has pissed off.