1
   

Reform and revolution in Iran

 
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Feb, 2004 07:08 pm
Perhaps chances of popular insurrection aren't all that great, after all ... a snapshot of disdain and apathy, rather than outrage and activism.

Quote:
Iran can vote, but doesnt really want to

de Volkskrant, Henk Muller
(translated from Dutch)

20 February 2004

TEHERAN - Today the citizens of Iran can vote for parliament. But they dont particularly feel like it. Many young people and women have lost their trust in politics.

"No", says Tina Kiamari and angrily shifts her veil. "Of course I'm not going to vote." The 20-year old student of English does absolutely not intend to cast her vote today for the parliamentary elections. She boycotts them. "I thought he was a good human being, but President Khatami is a liar, he has done nothing for us."

Kiamari feels betrayed. Did enthusiasm flare up four years ago - 70% of the population then voted for the parliamentary elections - now interest is zero. Khatami, the idol of youngsters and women, has fallen off of his pedestal. The young of Iran can be bothered less.

Together with Ali (20), student of veterinarxxx, Tina eats a hamburger and fries in a fastfood restaurant. Four years ago Ali voted for Khatami in the hope that he would give the young more freedom. "Our leaders know no honor, they are thieves."

Ali is visibly scared. Just before he went into the restaurant, the feared basiji's (who guard over correct Islamic behaviour) rode past on a motor and looked at him a little too intensely. The way he looks, he could have walked out of an MTV clip. "If they don't like the way I look, they can pick me up and detain me and I'm scared of jail."

Younge people are no longer arrested for the least of offences since Khatami became President - but you can always still threaten them.

Tina criticizes the inability of the Iranian leaders to "correct themselves" and listen to the wishes of the population. Both of them want to be able to say what they think and wear what they want. Tina: "when I went to get my drivers' license they started to make problems about my jeans, my nail polish, my make-up. What business is it of theirs?" Only about her braces the authorities didnt cause trouble.

She is a fan of Noble Prize winner Shirin Ebadi. But when Tina wanted to go to a lecture by her, Ebadi was denied entry to the university. "Then cops came and started beating us. Only because we wanted to go to her lecture. What kind of country is this?"

The last day before the elections it is forbidden to make propaganda. You see little difference. Here and there in the city there were still some posters, banners and flags of candidates and parties on Wednesday. But noone paid much attention to them.


On a cultural note, I never know what to emphasize. There is repression. Those young people would be whom we'd identify with, I suppose. It is good to point out both how hated the conservatives are, and to what degree reformer Khatami failed in his halfhearted attempts to tease out change. To denounce political violence, censorship. But on the other hand, many Westerners, when they talk of Iran, conjure up Taliban-like images of beaten-down women in burqa's and oppressive Islamic fundamentalism. In reality, there seems to be more some kind of strained compromise on daily life, with violent, but increasingly impotent conservative troopers clamping down occassionally, but unable to stop the drift into modern culture that is happening right under their eyes.

Its a balancing act to counter people's prejudices about "axis of evil" Iran with the image of Tina and Ali's "MTV generation" and their openly expressed criticism of the authorities - without ever belittling the extent to which the country is still caught in the trappings of authoritarian human rights abuse ...
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Feb, 2004 07:30 pm
It strikes me, btw, that Ayatollah Khamenei's authoritarian, Islamic conservatives are called the right-wingers in Iran (and thus, I assume, the reformers are called the left-wing?). In one last aside reference to the Soviet Union, the conservative communists there for a while were called the right wing too, and the democratic reformers the leftists (a terminology that was only reversed when market reforms came to the forefront of politics).

Just remarking.

I'm glad I'm not a right-winger <winks>

Oh, and to make this post useful (and on an associative jump from the context), here's an interesting link:

RFE/RL's Weekly Analytical Report on Developments in Iran
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 12:07 pm
nimh wrote:
Perhaps chances of popular insurrection aren't all that great, after all ... a snapshot of disdain and apathy, rather than outrage and activism.


Well, I always do manage to make my predictions just so that they'll be disproven by the news the very next day ... <ahem>

Today in the news:

Quote:
Casualties during election riots in Iran

In South-Iran at least eight people died during riots. The riots started during protests against the results of last Friday's parliamentary elections. According to the demonstrators, turnout figures had been tampered with.

In the city of Firouzebad there were four deaths, among whom one cop. In Izeh, also in the south of Iran, another four people died. "The protesters call for a recount of the votes to prevent fraud", says a local functionary. [..]

The conservative spiritual leaders of Iran scrapped 2300 reformers from the voting lists beforehand. [..] 130 parliamentarians decided to resign in protest. Many Iranians decided to boycott the elections. [..]

Turnout

[..] Although not all results are in yet, it is already clear that out of the 290 parliamentary seats, the conservatives will have at least 135. An absolute majority this is within reach.

Reformers and independents, according to the ministry of Domestic Affairs gained at least 65 seats. [..]

Turnout was between fourty percent (according to the reformers) and sixty percent (according to the conservatives). That means significantly fewer people went to the voting booths than during the previous elections in 2000. Turnout then was 67%.

(translated from Dutch, NOS Nieuws)
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 12:17 pm
nimh's quote, "You dont think theres a significant difference between having a democratically elected parliament, however limited its powers, and having only a fully-appointed one? Between having a range of different opinions voiced in semi-free media, and all media mouthing the exact same official positions? Between students being able to demonstrate and parliamentarians being able to protest with sit-ins, and anyone who comes out with a placard being arrested and sent to a camp? You're not serious, are you?

As for China's move towards "capitalism", I'd hazard a guess that Iran is no less capitalist than China ...

Mind you, I'm not "sticking up" for Iran here - but proportions are important, you know ..."

Still support this idea?
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 12:43 pm
cicerone imposter wrote:
Still support this idea?


Yes. Why? Any specifics you want to argue about it?

I.e.,

- elections. The conservatives rigged these ones in Iran. Nevertheless, there's still at least 65 reformers elected even now. You think even one democrat could be elected in China?

- media. Three newspapers got temporarily shut down last week because they published the critical open letter from the boycotting parliamentarians. You think there's even one national newspaper in China that would consider publishing an open letter like that in the first place?

- criticism and protest. Lord knows what's gonna happen in the next few years, but right now, there were a hundred-and-something parliamentarians openly calling for a boycott of the elections, publishing their criticisms in the media, organising a sit-in in parliament - and they're still there. In China, they would have long disappeared to a prison camp in barren Xinjiang.

I'm just thinking about Tina Kiamari and her friend Ali again. You know that a country is at least some way better than absolute dictatorship, when you can hear the people from there publicly protest against how dictatorial it still is. It's ironic, I know.

You really dont see the difference in degrees? Black and white thinking never got anyone to make a sound decision - just look at GWB. Fight the dark grey, too, by all means - but do see how its different from the black.
0 Replies
 
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 12:55 pm
Rules of Life
Rule of Life #1 is:

Nothing changes until the generation in power dies of old age (or firing squad.)

The world's history teaches us the horse pucky disturbers, the movements and their beliefs usually can only be tossed out when the disturbers die. We see this all the time around the world.

This rule of life #1 will eventually bring change in Iran.

BBB
0 Replies
 
Acquiunk
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 01:51 pm
But it is their impact on events in the interim, while the desperately hold on to power that is the problem.
0 Replies
 
Rick d Israeli
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 02:15 pm
I agree with acquiunk. A better future - someday, unknown - does not mean you just can sit back and relax. What does future have for you when you are being tortured to death? What the world has to do, is trying to be preventive. Iran did not become a fundamental Islamic country "by accident". Several causes can be named. In almost all cases in history, extremists can gain power due to a bad internal situation. So instead of condemning it afterwards, it is better to look sharp at possible countries where things can go wrong: countries with a bad economical situation, corrupt system, sometimes mixed with ethnical or religious differences. Countries like the ones in the centre of Asia - the old Soviet states: Kyrgyzstan, Kazachstan, Uzbekistan, with a bad economical situation (economy collapsed after the break-up of the Soviet-Union), a corrupt system and a very mixed population (a big minority of Russians and other Europeans who went freely to these countries or were deported during the Stalinist era, mainly from Eastern-Europe); Islamic fundamentalists already have gained a lot of support in these countries. But I guess in about 10 years we will say: what a shame what happened to Kazachstan/Kyrgyzstan/Uzbekistan (etc...). Rolling Eyes
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 02:58 pm
The problem with Uzbekistan, Kyrgisztan etc isnt so much, imho, Islamic fundamentalists gaining sway over the population. It's post-communist authoritarians using the supposed Islamist threat as an excuse to impose absolute dictatorship.

Of course, the sad thing is, in the end they might well create a self-forfilling prophecy ... Karimov etc have already killed off most of what civic, democratic opposition there was - soon an Islamist underground will become the last resort for disgruntled, impoverished Uzbeks ...

And the more absolute and corrupt their regimes become, the more uncompromising it will be.

Anyway, back to Iran. Unlike, say, Turkmenistan, it has been having a 'window of opportunity' for a few years now. Will the conservatives' attempt to grab back power turn back the clock? Or will it cause some kind of moment of truth'? Or will they just muddle on ...

Who's best placed to become the rallying point for protest? Khatami's brother? Ebadi? Someone else?
0 Replies
 
Rick d Israeli
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Feb, 2004 02:33 pm
Bush :wink: Rolling Eyes ....
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Sep, 2004 03:15 pm
This sounds promising! If I forget to look out for dispatch #2 et cetera, someone remind me ;-)

0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Sep, 2004 04:00 pm
I almost forgot, but this Reza Aslan diary is really interesting.

From entry 2, for example:

Quote:


And from entry 3:

Quote:
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Sep, 2004 04:09 pm
But, although I realise I'm risking none of these pieces being ever read just by throwing so many of 'em to you at the same time, this is the best one. Where entries 2 and 3 introduced interesting perspectives on sub-topics, entry 4 is as evocative a summary of the State of Iran Today as you have:

Quote:
Entry 4, Reza Aslanhttp://img.slate.msn.com/media/1/123125/122985/2093713/2106314/2106315/040910_Jaam-e-Jam.jpg
The food court at Jaam-e Jam mini-mall

"Food court," as it is known throughout Tehran, is the refuge of Iran's next generation. This is the generation born after the revolution. They do not recall life under the Shah and are fed up with the anti-imperialist rhetoric of their elders. They were children during the Iran-Iraq War and have no experience of the horrible sacrifice Iranians were forced to make to keep the revolution alive. They couldn't care less about the revolution. They want what all teenagers want. They want what they see on their satellite stations.

Amid the pizza, burger, pasta, and Tex-Mex stands, boys in jeans and T-shirts ogle made-up girls in stylish designer scarves. Text messages are relayed back and forth between the tables. Seats are exchanged. I'm amazed at the bravado with which they casually mingle with each other.

As I sit typing on my laptop, a tall girl with heavy makeup stops at my table and smiles brightly. "Hello!" she exclaims in overly rehearsed English. "My girlfriends want to know if you will please like to join us for a Coke."

I'm baffled and say nothing. I want to tell her I speak Persian, but I sense the revelation would somehow disappoint her. She taps me on the shoulder and points to a group of cheerful young girls in flashy headscarves stealthily smoking cigarettes and giggling uncontrollably. One of them waves me over, and it occurs to me that this generation will not put up with the clerical noose around their necks much longer.
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Jun, 2005 06:03 pm
Bump up for news geeks following Iran.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Jun, 2005 06:40 pm
geek checking in
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2005 10:37 am
ehBeth wrote:
geek checking in

Join us also in the Democratisation in the Middle East thread, Beth, more takes on the Iranian elections there.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2005 05:40 pm
this thread was an interesting re-read - glad it got dragged up the charts
0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Apr, 2006 08:50 pm
bump
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

 
Copyright © 2019 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 04/24/2019 at 03:53:30