08 December 2009

Green revolution

Monday's wave of protests across Iran showed that the goals of the "green" uprising are becoming more explicitly radical. This is no longer just about the stolen election and Mousavi and "reform" of the Islamic Republic, if it ever was.

Some protesters burned pictures of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader and real ruler of Iran (the "Presidency" occupied by Ahmadinejad is a subordinate position), and even of Ayatollah Khomeini himself, the founder of the Islamic Republic.

Others waved Iranian flags with the Islamic "coat of arms" (a stylized version of the word "Allah") removed (1410 GMT update).

Chants replaced the common phrase jomhuri-ye Eslâmi (Islamic Republic) with jomhuri-ye Irâni (Iranian Republic). Another chant was Nezhâd-e mâ Aryâ-st, din va siyâsat jodâ-st (Our people is Aryan*, let religion and politics be separate).

The uprising is now clearly headed in the direction which anyone familiar with Iran would have predicted -- nationalist and secular, not necessarily against Islam itself but against the theocracy. This is probably necessary to its ultimate success. The "reformist" goal of installing one tired old set of greybeards in place of another while making incremental reforms in the same old repressive system will not motivate a sustained mass movement, however much the Western MSM seems to prefer talking in those terms.

[*In Iran the term "Aryan" has no association with the Nazis and has long been used to differentiate the Indo-European-speaking Persians from the Semitic-speaking Arabs to the southwest -- the intent of the slogan is to emphasize Iran's Persian ethnic identity in contrast to the Islamic identity promoted by the theocracy (Islam being imported from Arabia and not native to Iran). The name "Iran" itself is derived from "Aryan". Nezhâd-e mâ could be translated as "our people" or "our race" or even "our ancestry".]


Blogger troutbirder said...

Interesting post. I hope your right on it. Also agree with your analysis of political divisions and reality. Thanks

08 December, 2009 03:28  
Blogger Holte Ender said...

A generation has grown up in Iran, with no memory of the Shah and the great upheavals of the 1970s and we are seeing them assert themselves, seeing them thanks to the demonstrator's cell phones, because the leadership is banning foreign media, it seems technology could be the downfall of the illegal government in Iran.

08 December, 2009 05:41  
Blogger Leslie Parsley said...

Great post, especially the last paragraph. I didn't know any of that. Just hope cell phones aren't confiscated - unlikely, I know.

Did you ever live in that region or are you a student of Iran's history and politics? Or, are you from there?

I hope the uprising succeeds and without too much bloodshed.

08 December, 2009 17:16  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

The regime did try to degrade internet access before the protests, as this article from Sunday shows. Based on the number of YouTube videos that got out yesterday and today, it doesn't seem to have worked.

There are probably too many cell phones (and computers) to confiscate.

I have visited a few Arab countries, but never Iran. Islam and the Middle East were my field of study at university. I do have some knowledge of the Arabic and Persian languages and know a fair bit about the cultures.

It's a terrible irony that Iran ended up being ruled by such a repressive theocracy. They are the least culturally suited to that of any Islamic country. If it weren't for the geographical accident that iran is so close to Arabia (and thus got conquered during the first wave of Arab expansion), it's hard to imagine that it would ever have become Muslim at all.

08 December, 2009 17:42  
Blogger Leslie Parsley said...

I hope you don't take this wrong, but somehow you don't fit my perception of an accountant. Don't worry, I shatter people's preconceived notions of a librarian.

I find your background fascinating and hope that you will continue to share your knowledge with us. I had friends from all over the mid- east when I was in school. It makes me sad to think that these good people are always living in turmoil.

PS - my comment re cell phones was my attempt at sick humor. I guess I was having visions of the Third Reich's book burning.

08 December, 2009 18:31  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Nah, don't worry, I wouldn't take it wrong. I don't think of myself as "an accountant" -- that's just what I do to keep a regular income coming in (I've always thought it rather odd that our culture tends to define people by what they do to earn an income). I'm interested in a lot of things and pick up a lot of stuff, that's all. Thanks!

09 December, 2009 02:07  

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