Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Iran, an Anniversary, the Green Movement, and Memory

February will mark the 31th Anniversary of Iran's revolution against the Shah, an event that, once the anti-Shah coalition was reduced to a single faction, became known as "The Islamic Revolution."

Will the Islamic Republic of Iran reach its thirty-first anniversary and last until March?  Alone among my friends I'm not entirely sure.   Or rather, I should say plainly:

I do not think the current government in Iran will survive through this spring.

The Obama administration has been attempting to engage the cleric-backed government of Ahmadinejad diplomatically, yet because of its behavior on the international stage Iran's current government should not be granted the standing as a partner for such negotiations.

Meanwhile, their government has been undergoing a crisis of legitimacy within Iran itself. A vast majority of theologians have all along been in agreement that clerical rule has no place in Shia Islam. Virtually the lone dissenters are those wielding power in Iran now.  Of course, I'd counsel readers not to take my word for it, and instead refer you to authorities in Najaf.

The question within Iran of the legitimacy of their government, however, now turns not so much on theological arguments as on its pervasive and grotesque abuse of human rights.   Of course, I'd counsel readers not to take my word for it, but instead to listen to what Iranian people themselves have been saying, and are saying in the streets, on twitter and sundry other media channels, even now.  In the meantime, detailed and authoritative reports about these abuses have been assembled and produced by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, and they are available HERE.

About February, and the coming anniversary of the Iranian revolution, this, on the persistence of memory, from Roya Hakanian:

For 30 years, Milan Kundera’s elegant formulation had been upended in Iran. Those in power insisted on remembering the past; ordinary men and women insisted on forgetting it. To remember was “revolutionary.” Not to remember was not simply counter-revolutionary, it was even blasphemous.... The tension was so palpable that even foreign reporters—clueless to language and cultural subtexts—sensed it. Report after report appeared in the English-language press about the youth’s disregard for the old totems, and their penchant for all things western, as they understood western to be—like going blonde, wearing Nikes, being sexually promiscuous, and saving money for plastic surgery. This generation that clandestinely swung its hips to the cool tunes of American pop would not be caught chanting a passé like Allahu akbar....
In the aftermath of the June presidential elections, the national dementia lifted. What was buried in the collective consciousness took hold of young and old. Everyone suddenly remembered. They climbed to the rooftops and chanted Allahu akbar just as they had in the weeks before the fall of the Shah. They took to the streets by the millions, and the image of their throngs uncannily resembled its precursor. They remembered how to build barricades, mix a Molotov cocktail, kiss the cheek of a riot policeman to pacify him, or set a tire on fire to neutralize tear gas. The regime finally got its wish. The nation proved to have been an assiduous student of history all along—and of all the detailed instructions it now regrets having passed on.

Now, in a farcical twist, the promotion of forgetting has become a governmental priority.

As Hakakian explains: "Last week, the broadcast and distribution of several images from 1978 was declared banned."   [As may be seen here:]

"The Green Movement, however, has already vowed to fight the ban by remembering."

Read Hakakian's entire article HERE.

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