Friday, July 24, 2009

Green Movement in the City Council

Although more than 40 days have elapsed since the Presidential elections in Iran, general political and social conditions have not stabilized. In addition to sporadic demonstrations in Tehran and other major cities, the presence of security militia in public areas, Allah-o Akbar calls at night, a ban on SMS messaging and widespread discontent displayed in lowered activity in the government and economic sector are all serious signals of an imminent political crisis.In the few remaining reformist newspapers and news sites as well as the blogs which have survived filtering, news of the green resistance movement dominates. News of men and women who have been illegally arrested with no formal charges, young people injured and wounded during demonstrations and the victims who have given their lives is slowly emerging despite government attempts to block and prevent dissemination.

Members from the Tehran City Council met with more than 50 family members of activists arrested after the elections. Among those arrested were top political party leaders, journalists, lawyers, students and even innocent bystanders. They initially spoke about the plight of their loved ones. They elaborated on their revolutionary and Islamic reputation and the fact that they supported Mousavi who was approved by the Guardian council, they explained how militia men in plain clothes had entered their homes to arrest their kin. Mehdi Chamran the current pro-government head of the Council who had a critical role in bringing Ahmadinejad to power was present in the session. The attendees indicated that they expected the City Council to follow the reports on illegal detainment procedures and also on the biased and distorted reporting of the State radio and television which has a monopoly on national news broadcasting. This behavior is unIslamic and has nothing to do with the authentic values of the Revolution they stressed; we have nothing to do with foreign powers, we fear a serious deviation from the values of the Islamic Revolution. The mother of Sohrab Aarabi , a young student killed during the peaceful demonstrations on the Monday after elections also came to the session. She spoke courageously about the legacy of her son to promote the values of the Islamic Republic, freedom and democracy , "his blood has not been shed in vain" she said, "the green campaign will succeed".

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Prayers for the Majority

The Friday prayer ceremony in Tehran today was very different from other weeks. Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, who has clearly opposed current government policies, led the prayers. People, from all walks of life particularly supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, took part with the hope of expressing their continued protest against the government. Hundreds of thousands of people took part inspite of tense security conditons. Mobile connections were cut off, thousands of police and anti-riot militia lined in the major streets leading to the Tehran University. I took part along with friends and family , we sat in Taleghani avenue and witnessed the presence of large populations who were calmly demonstrating and expressing their support for Mousavi and Hashemi. Although we could not see , but news reports indicated that Mir Hossein Mousavi, sat among the worshippers, attending for the first time since the turmoil began. Many of the tens of thousands at the prayers wore headbands or wristbands in his campaign color green, or had green prayer rugs.We also experienced the smell of tear gas among the worshippers.
Mr. Hashemi spoke firmly despite prior speculation that he would take a conservative stance. He reprimanded the Guardian Council (the body in charge of election oversight) for not listening to the controversy over the election, which was declared a victory for Ahmadinejad despite widespread claims of fraud by all three rival candidates.

"Doubt has been created (about the election results)," Rafsanjani said. "There is a large portion of the wise people who say they have doubts. We need to take action to remove this doubt." He spoke about he spoke of how Prophet Muhammad (SA)"respected the rights" of his people. He recalled the days of protest that people had against the "arrogant" Shah. He criticized the postelection wave of arrests, saying that the system should show sympathy for protesters and urging the release of those detained.
In his sermon, Hashemi Rafsanjani said the Islamic Republic must listen to the people's voices. "We believe in the Islamic Republic ... they have to stand together," he said. "If 'Islamic' doesn't exist, we will go astray. And if 'republic' is not there, (our goals) won't be achieved. Where people are not present or their vote is not considered, that government is not Islamic."

After the prayer ceremony tens of thousands of people marched , chanting slogans such as Mousavi's name and "coup detat government resign resign!". After weeks of suppression of demonstrations and arrests and detainment of students and opposition leaders the people are still in the scene and hopeful for change in the future. It seems that the faith that they have in their campaign has given them the strength and courage to continue. We arrived back home at 4 pm, exhausted and stricken by the sun and 40 degree celsius heat in Tehran.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Highly Skeptical

The American Vice President, Joe Biden, seemed to give Israel a green light for military action to eliminate Iran's so called "nuclear threat", saying the U.S. "cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do.""Israel can determine for itself -- it's a sovereign nation -- what's in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else," Biden told ABC's "This Week" in an interview broadcast Sunday.

This is a clear change in tone compared to two months ago when Biden told the Zionist regime that attacking Iran without American consent was not an option for the Zionist regime. While President Obama has kept his position on non interference in Iranian affairs, this new tone is considered as an implicit threat. Analysts believe this change in tone may be rooted in the recent post election events in Iran.

There have been many instances in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran when the positions and rhetoric of American authorities has seriously undermined the civil society movements and democratic processes of the country. One example, when during the Reformist term of Khatami , Bush named Iran as a memeber of the "axis of evil" ,thereby giving extremists an opportunity to hijack the political directions of the country.
Now, more recently Obama has mentioned concern for the supporters of Mousavi and the post election protests, while not seen as being helpful; it has not been taken seriously by people who believe that Americans are after their interests in the region and are currently also supporting many tyrannical regimes in the world only to protect their interests.
Biden's recent remarks will not be helpful for Iranian endeavors for reform, since these words will give security forces the opportunity to take advantage and make things more difficult for the people. In addition, any imminent threat to attack Iran will spontaneously unite all Iranians against the external enemy. This act will surely mute the reform movement in Iran for a long time.
It seems quite suspicious for many Iranians that whenever a viable civil rights and democratic campaign has taken shape, within the context of the Constitution and values of the Islamic Revolution, Americans strike the first lethal blow in various forms, depriving it of any opportunity to survive in a society highly skeptical of foreign support and interference.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

We Have Succeeded

The recent issue of Nature magazine has an editorial devoted to Iranian researchers and scientists. "Iran's endogenous civil-rights movement needs international solidarity, not political meddling" it says.Other international journals have also embarked on similar endeavors.
On the national level, Mr Mousavi has published his ninth communique calling the elections "fraudulent" and the current government as "illegitimate". Mousavi has called for non-violent resistance and finding new and secure ways of protesting against the government. He has once again expressed his allegiance to the values of the Islamic Revolution and has stressed that the Constitution provides for the democratic foundations of the Repubic which are currently undermined. He has referred to the endless pressures on Iranian activists and his supporters.

These recent acts of violent repression, performed under the guise of crushing a velvet revolution, have left an indelible scar on the image of the Islamic Republic. The reality is that the roots and the popular following of the Green Movement are totally indigenous and have nothing to do with foreign instigation, or a "velvet revolution", as the government seeks to prove through coercive interrogation methods against Reformist leaders. A Reformist cleric in Majlis has recently cried out loud:" we are all Muslims and followers of the Islamic Revolution not foreign infiltrators". It may be that a few hooligans could be found who confess that they have taken orders from abroad but the Green wave was undeniably a symbol of national pride and solidarity with the Revolution.

We have succeeded today since the green wave had united Iranians and brought together many youth who were formerly indifferent. Their peaceful protest in face of all threats and pressures gave a new credibility and value to the Iranian nation in the world. Iranians stood up against fraud, cheating and lies in support of religious and Islamic values that have been the core of the Islamic Revolution. This carries a great lesson for Muslims and believers of Divine Religions throughout the world.
I have included a picture which cannot be denied today. Mousavi has been in the closest circle to Imam Khomeini the Founder of the Islamic Revolution; his sincere calls for democracy, freedom and revival of Islamic values and resistance against injustice will not go unheard.