Iranian Lessons

Discussion in 'Iran' started by Unregistered, Jul 8, 2009.

  1. Seems like nothing changed politically in Iran in 4 years, except the "disontented liberal elites" just got angrier and braver.

    EXCERPTS ONLY - Its a good read so read the whole article (board only lets me post parts here)

    July 17, 2005

    In south Tehran there is a huge walled cemetery dedicated to the martyrs, the young men who died fighting in the 1979 revolution and the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988. This vast city of the dead, complete with its own subway station and shops, does not share Arlington National Cemetery's sublimely stoic aesthetic of identical tombstones, row upon row. In Tehran's war cemetery, each of the fallen is remembered individually with his own martyr's shrine, a sealed glass cabinet on a stand. The cabinets are filled with faded photos of men forever young, some in helmets or red bandannas, some carrying their weapons, others at home stroking the family cat or grinning during a meal with friends. Next to the yellowing photographs might be a Koran, or a faded copy of a Persian poem, or a set of plastic flowers, or one of the painted eggs that Iranian families exchange at their New Year. These little shrines seem to go on forever, each one a family's attempt to confer immortality on some young man who died in the trenches at a place like Khorramshahr, the pinnacle of Iranian resistance to the Iraqi invaders.

    I visited the cemetery of the martyrs late last month, during a trip to Iran to lecture on human rights, mostly to reform-minded students and intellectuals. My arrival fell between rounds of the country's presidential election. In the first round of voting, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- the son of an ironworker, a former Revolutionary Guard during the war with Iraq and, briefly, the appointed mayor of Tehran -- had come from nowhere to win about 20 percent of the vote. The former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the supposedly reformist candidate, was struggling to hold off Ahmadinejad's challenge in the second round. Ahmadinejad is an authoritarian populist with a base of support among the poor in the shantytowns and warrens of south Tehran. Unlike Rafsanjani, he is not a mullah, and he served in the war. This gave him access to the war veterans and the Basiji, the paramilitary popular militias created during the war, and he was using them to get out the vote in the poorest neighborhoods of south Tehran. He promised the poor justice, but most of all he promised the veterans rewards for their sacrifice. Immediately labeled a hard-liner by most American commentators, Ahmadinejad sent out more populist, inclusive signals at home, leading some Iranians to worry that quick American condemnations of him as a reactionary might only provoke him into becoming one.

    At the beginning of the week that I arrived, there were few Ahmadinejad posters around Tehran for the presidential runoff. Thanks to the veterans, by the eve of the final vote, banners and posters were displayed everywhere. At night, cars would grind to a halt while Ahmadinejad supporters, with his picture plastered on their foreheads, danced around the traffic circles. In the end, Ahmadinejad easily defeated Rafsanjani in the runoff election, winning with about 60 percent of the vote. It was a victory so unexpected that some were already calling it the second Iranian revolution.


    Ahmadinejad had capitalized not only on his war service but also on gathering disillusion with the failure of the reformers -- nominally in power since the election of President Mohammad Khatami in 1997 -- to address popular grievances relating to jobs, housing, transport and, above all, the growing class divide. In leafy north Tehran, reformers were talking about human rights and democracy, while in dusty south Tehran, the poor were struggling to hold onto jobs in an economy in which unemployment was officially 15 percent and probably twice that. For the reformers, the victory brought home how out of touch with ordinary Iranians many of them had become.

    ''That was our chief mistake,'' Amir Hossein Barmaki, a middle-class Tehrani who now works for the United Nations in the city, told me. ''The reformers -- Khatami and Rafsanjani -- came to power after the war and they did nothing for the veterans. These boys from the poor districts came home, having saved the country, and we did nothing for them. There were some who are dying of Saddam's poison gas attacks who didn't even get a pension.''

    ''No,'' he went on. ''There was worse. None of us actually went to the war. All the middle class went abroad or stayed in university. We sent the poor instead. We could even buy our way out of military service. It is our shame.''

    On the nights after Ahmadinejad's victory, the atmosphere among many of the liberal Iranians I talked with was reminiscent of another group of intellectuals: the Russian thinkers of the 1860's, Western-educated men and women who had to discover, painfully, just how out of touch their reformist ideas were with the poor and burdened of their own society. Barmaki told me mournfully, ''We reformers have lost five years.''

    The political task ahead for the liberal thinkers of Iran is to find a program that links human rights and democracy to the poor's economic grievances.


    I had been invited to lecture on human rights and democracy, but Ahmadinejad's unexpected victory changed the agenda of my talks. Suddenly the question was no longer, What do democracy and human rights mean in an Islamic society? but, Can democracy and human rights make any headway at all in a society deeply divided between rich and poor, included and excluded, educated and uneducated? The reformers had promoted human rights and democracy as a panacea for Iran's poor, and what had been the result? The slums of Tehran voted for a man who advocated stricter discipline for women, tougher theocratic rule and state control of the economy.

    Berlin himself visited Tehran in the late 1970's, during the dying years of the shah's regime. He gave a lecture -- ''On the Rise of Cultural Pluralism'' -- in front of the empress, who, as Berlin later recounted, fidgeted irritably and then made a sign to a courtier to get Berlin to cut it short. In midlecture, Berlin sat down, he told a friend, ''as if stung by several wasps.'' All in all it was not a happy visit. The shah's Iran, he decided, was the last czarist regime on earth. Propped up by the Americans and kept in power by a hated secret police, the shah launched a White Revolution in the 1960's, a grandiose modernization program that alienated mullahs, merchants and students alike. Eventually, street demonstrations forced him to abdicate, and he fled into exile in 1979. After that came the Shiite revolution, led by Ayatollah Khomeini. Since then, hundreds of thousands of Iranians have gone into exile, and the liberal intelligentsia that remains is both cut off from the mass of the Iranian population and isolated from the Western universities from which it draws its inspiration.

    Many young Iranians I talked to were so hostile to clerical rule that I found myself cautioning them against going too far in the other direction. Many seemed in favor of a secular republicanism in which religion was excluded from politics altogether, as it was in Turkey during the rule of that country's modernizing dictator, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. As Isaiah Berlin warned, however, if you bend the twig too far, it will snap back in your face. In Turkey, the reaction against the extremes of Ataturk's secularism has brought an Islamic government, though admittedly a moderate one, to power. Secularism, I argued, doesn't mean crushing religion, it just means creating a neutral space in which arguments between religious and secular people are settled by evidence, not dogma.

    ''Like in the United States?'' a bright female student asked me with a coy smile. In the United States, I said, God is never out of the public sphere. The furor over the end of Terri Schiavo's life and the Bush administration's restrictions on federal financing for stem cell research, among other things, make that obvious. From their vantage point inside a theocracy, young Iranians long for ''a wall of separation'' between religion and government, as Thomas Jefferson called it, and they told me they found it puzzling, even disappointing, that religion and politics are not actually separate in the United States. I tried to explain that keeping God in his place in a democracy is work that never ends.




    One day, I paid a call on Saeed Semnanian, the chancellor of one of Tehran's most conservative universities. We sat in his spartan office, while female engineering students walked to and fro in the gardens outside his window. I began with compliments about the achievements of the revolution. Female literacy has risen to 70 percent (though male literacy is still higher, at 84 percent), while income per head has doubled since the end of the war with Iraq. But, I went on, everyone I talked to in Tehran told me the revolution has congealed into a corrupt, repressive system of privileges that exploits Islamic orthodoxy to remain in power.

    ''Whom do you talk to?'' he asked me with a level stare.

    ''Intellectuals, writers, journalists.''

    ''You are trying to take the temperature of the revolution, but all your thermometers are wrong,'' he responded.

    All this complaining, he implied, is what you would expect from discontented liberals.
    The achievement that matters, he said, is that Iran is independent. In the presidential elections, all the candidates were pure Iranian. In the shah's time, nothing was pure Iranian. Everything was decided in the American or the British Embassy.


    To tell you the truth, I don't give a flying fuck about Moussavi, either. I'm just hoping the Iranian people who are fighting are fighting for the right for any man, woman, or child to become head of the country. Or at least to ultimately have the say in what happens to their people.

    What it comes down to is that these discontented liberals have the correct worldview while people like Ahmadi are just going to perpetuate problems and stifle true prosperity. The people continue to support him because that's what they're taught, and as long as they're kept ignorant, they'll believe no other option exists. If people were fine living under oppression, then I could give a shit less, but enough people cried out, so I'm going to support them.
  3. Purpose of elections is for determine how they want to be ruled. If the overwhelming majority voted for Ahmedinejad, then the international community must respect the wishes of that majority.

    I don't like taxes or government and think they are oppressive. There are many Americans who don't like them either. Does this mean I can take to streets and hold protests, riots, and fight with police in streets?
  4. Why are there so many trolls on this board lately?
  5. When your Internet is becoming as filtered as China, when SMS messaging is taken down, when protesters in pictures are targeted to be identified and taken away even if they helped the police, when phone lines and cellphones are jammed, WHEN YOUR FREEDOM OF SPEECH is taken away, then you will sing a different tune.

    Oh, and "liberals" again? Same troll. Probably another American Moron.
  6. Stacy Member

    Evidently things are happening and this is bothering them. Lots of trolls is probably a sign that things aren't going their way. :)
  7. There have always been trolls, and not all of them have an agenda. Some of them are just doing this for the lulz.
  8. FreedomAgent Member

    Too fucking many bots here from presstv and alike, your days will come keep holding on to power by force and propaganda, your days are numbered if not today maybe tomorrow or maybe 4 years maybe 8 but it will come. The massacre will be twitted for sure
  9. you're forgetting the teabag parties.
  10. LOL. You paranoid freaks sound like the Iran government. They think everyone is a foreign agent. You think everyone is Iranian agents.

    Please twitter away.
  11. Hmm. I think this troll is a conservative Canadian. I infer this from the derogatory use of the word "liberal" and the name Michael Ignatieff.

    Liberal Party of Canada Biography
  12. Oh, those were dear to my heart! But we did not riot, throw stones at police, break into shops. If we would have, the police would have attacked us as well. Fortunately our police is more civilised than Iran and not blood-thirsty. But cause and effect is an important principle to remember.

    Either way, it will be easier for us to attack Iran with this idiot in office. That way we can get rid of the regime properly. Mousavi would have caused delays in that process.
  13. Stacy Member

    We can take to the streets and hold protests. We don't have to riot or fight with police because they don't try and beat the shit out of us or kill us.
  14. FreedomAgent Member

    Paranoid? us?

    Got it all wrong, paranoia is knowing that any moment people might break your door down and put the stick that you have been bitting them with up your ass

    Now that's paranoia
  15. Troll identified: American NeoCon!


    Now scanning for teabags.
  16. Apparently, a lot of the dead protesters are shopkeepers, high school graduates and pregnant women!! Are they intellectuals, students or journalists?!
  17. By all accounts, the police reacted after the protesters started rioting.

    We can hold protests because our government knows they will have no effect. The issue us permits, tell us to stand in little boxes, and then we go home.

    Good for the Iranian protesters that they rioted. It is the only way to make governments listen, but one must be prepared to the cost.
  18. Stacy Member

    Protests have no effect????

    Got any data to back that up?
  19. Millions protested against our wars. Nothing happened.
    Thousands protested against the bailouts. Nothing happened.
    Million queers protested in California. Nothing happened.

    Sure they give scraps and concession every now and then. But no fundamental changes.

    MILLIONS protested against Vietnam. Nothing happened. UNTIL those of us in the military ourselves started protesting, refusing to fight, or in some cases killed commanding officers.

    Blood and fire is the only way to change.
  20. Stacy Member

    Guess all us women aren't going to be happy that the protests for our right to vote didn't work.

    You might also inform the entire Africian American race in the US they walked miles and miles for nothing and none of the protests help them either..........
  21. FreedomAgent Member

    It will get to this
  22. Visionary Member

    I think the one here is the same one posting all these threads with highlighted stuff that he wants to use as proof that Ahmadi won.

    It isn't proof of course, and I don't believe for a minute that what we are seeing from Iran is evidence of a majority of Iranians supporting Ahmadinejad. But you have to admire the poster for trying.

    And even if Ahmadi did win an unfair heavily weighted election against a few other guys selected by Khamenei and his henchclerics...the things that have been done by the regime since then clearly invalidate any right Ahamdi or Khamenei or his fellows have to lead their country.

    So many Iranians from all walks of life have echoed this sentiment in their words and their deeds over the past weeks. Even those who did not vote for Mousavi or other reformists.

    On a side note, I'm getting so tired of trolls coming on here and implying that IF the majority approves of the regime, that means that it's ok for the government to do whatever they want to the minority.
  23. Hmm 1850s to 1920. 70 years. I think in 70 years these protesters may have a better chance. You are right.

    With the latter, there is a significant thought among many scholars, especially of non-violence, that it is most effective when there is an equally powerful more militant counterpart to a non-violent movement, in which case the government acquiesces to the non-violent movements demands. This happened with Gandhi (versus HRSA, Subhash Bose, etc), as well as MLK Jr. (with Malcom, NOI, radical members of SNCC, etc).
  24. You want the government to overturn the election because a privileged and self-entitled minority say so?

    Is it okay for that minority to riot? (I think so) and not get a reaction from the government? (I dont think so)
  25. What makes your tiny cranium think the election was valid? There's a mountain of evidence (both circumstantial and mathematical) that argue it's a complete sham. Are you so easily duped by Press TV?

    Even if Ahmadinnerjacket somehow actually won the election, the actions made by his government on its own people make it crystal clear he is not worthy of the position. As a result, it will be removed from him by force.

    The people on the streets right now are truly the "silent majority." Except as we'll continue to see, they're no longer all that silent.
  26. Visionary Member

    I don't recall saying that.

    They rioted a little bit at first. Most of the protesting has been peaceful and the leaders have constantly called for it to stay that way. The authorities on the other hand have pepper-sprayed, water-hosed, arrested, beaten, shot, and raped people for voicing their opinion non-violently, and have wantonly destroyed property everywhere for fun (not even taking into account what they did to the students at the universities repeatedly just for being university students).

    Not to mention that the government banned any media criticizing them and has disallowed foreign journalists and assembly and even funerals for dead family members.
  27. FreedomAgent Member

    The privileged (most everyone I am in contact with in Tehran and Tabriz) have not left their homes for a couple of weeks

    The protestors are the middle-class and lower-middle class population of the country

    Government agents, basij and propaganda machines be very afraid next knock on your doors might be a freedom mercenary
  28. I don't listen to government mouthpieces of any government, including our own.

    14 million voted for Mousavi.

    The fact that 1 to 2 million max have turned out for the protests would seem to reaffirm the above number.
  29. Stacy Member

    Also threw journalists in jail, that's a sure way to make sure they do not get any news out to the world.
  30. Stacy Member

    Maybe the rest didn't turn out for the protests because they didn't want to be beat, jailed or killed. Myabe only 1-2 million were willing to protest no matter what the cost.
  31. That is generally what happens during heightened level of affairs.

    The journalist and supporters of all parties had no problems before in the run up to the elections. The crackdown started after the first wave of riots after the elections, and since then have a life of their own. You cant go back by saying "we promise to protest peacefully" now. Especially to bloodthirsty regimes like Iran who dont have any compunction about beating, jailing, torturing or killing people.
  32. FreedomAgent Member

    Fact: 26 out of 32 of my family members voted for Mir Hossein, only 2 of them have joined the protesters

    Most are afraid, some do not think this will change others are helping with other means
  33. Maybe? Sure "maybe". That is all you can go on.

    Those other millions turned out when they wanted to get rid of the Shah, and died by the thousands.

    If people want it enough they will take it. By blood. By fire.

    Not enough want it in Iran right now.
  34. No, because the government cheated, allowed full boxes not to be sent to tehran. Because out of the some 200 candidates government decided that four of them are pious enough to fight in election. I mean to approve 2% of all candidates is not cheating? And because it treats Iranians like kids, small children who do not know what is good for them.
    It is not privileged minority who was cheated, it was poor people who were cheated, who were promised money for marriage, houses, jobs. Did they got them? How many is unemployed or underemployed. That is what I call cheating. - and wealthy minority, like Rafsanjani but also like the kin of ahmadi nejad is getting richer.
    yes, if basiji start to beat and kill pecefull demonstrators. Government should be just and should be constrained by the law, last month government was not constrained by their own law and its forces run amok.
  35. FreedomAgent Member

    Millions did not turn out to overthrow the Shah, the protest at first were very small 100s of people, the numbers reached millions in about 8-9 months at that point the Shah had left the country

    In this wired world I think we are so accustomed to quick results, there are still cretin goals that take time and in this instance it will take a lot more time and blood, but it will happen

    This is just the beginning
  36. If you don't like taxes in the U.S. you can take to the streets and hold protests. In fact many have done so. People are not tortured. Opposition parties are not rounded up. College dormitories are not raided and students are not killed. On tax-day this year close to 500,000 people demonstrated around this U.S. It was no big deal. Peaceful protests and freedom of assembly are written into the U.S. Constitution (the same is true of the Iranian Constitution -- granted the hardline leadership does not respect its own Constitution).

    If the overwhelming majority of Iranians voted for Ahmadinejad he would have had independent monitors overseeing the voting process and the vote counting, so as to remove any doubt about the legitimacy of the vote counting. He did not do this. There would not have been 2 to 3 million people hitting the streets in Tehran just days after the announced results.
  37. The parallels to the Shah's reign are uncanny. The banning of public protests and peaceful demonstrations. The rounding up of dissidents and the use of torture. The indiscriminate use of military force. The attempt to create a climate of fear. The manipulations through state controlled media and the shutting down of opposition press.

    It's not clear if we're in the 1960s period, or the 1970s at this point in the protests, but the hardliners are behaving very similar to the Shah.
  38. freeIran134 Member

    For those of us who do not study the actual historical facts about the 1979 Iranian revolution here is some info. The demonstrations first started in 1977 and numbered only in the couple hundredsand even as time progressed the demonstrations only numbered a couple thousand. Also, the main protests came 40 days after the previous one the date of which Muslims mourn martyrs from the protests. We have not yet even hit the first 40 day marker yet. The reason why the protests grew was because, the economy of the country continued to worsen, every demonstration was met with a bloody crackdown, and the religious clerics more and more where supporting the demonstrations (sound familiar anyone?) Also, do not forget that it took 3 years for the revolution to run it's course. Liberation movements aren't for those with short attention spans. So be patient and if we see big protests on 18 Tir and and equal or even larger protests on July 30th and I think we can assume that withen the next year or two we will see this gov fall.
  39. Michael Ignatieff does an excellent job of justifying beating random people on the streets, whether or not they were involved in the protests; breaking into the houses of people at all hours to destroy their property, and kidnapping them and shoving them 400 at a time into prison; torturing them; raping the imprisoned women; shoving glass bottles into the rectums of the men in the prison, and shattering the bottles; and of course, murdering men, women, and children.

    Politicians will justify anything.
  40. @the guy defending ahmadinejad, get real, you are not Iranian and just by following ahmadinejad's victory propaganda you instantly assume he won and Iranians are not allowed to protest in peace. Tehran's city hall declared that there were over 3 million people in the streets during the post-election protests. How can you even continue arguing that it's not enough... When the president's sun-in-law disowns his father because of his post-election treatment of protesters, you know the situation is serious. The people want change, they have been waiting for this for 30 years and they are finally getting close to achieving that goal.

    Probly not worth trying to reason with you, Visionary couldn't have put it better, why don't you guys delete his posts... I understand that it goes against the belief that speech should never be silenced, but this person cannot reason and keeps on spewing out propaganda against the greatest movement for freedom and peace in the country since the 1979 revolution.

    This really gets my blood boiling, Iranians are dying in this struggle and this guy talks about bombing Iran...

Share This Page

Customize Theme Colors


Choose a color via Color picker or click the predefined style names!

Primary Color :

Secondary Color :
Predefined Skins