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.
Perhaps chances of popular insurrection aren't all that great, after all ... a snapshot of disdain and apathy, rather than outrage and activism.
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. [..]
[..] 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)
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Entry 4, Reza Aslan
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.
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