Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Evolution of a Revolution

Iranians voted for change. Civil change, not religious. They are, by and large, satisfied with their theistic government; it is the totalitarian nature of that theistic republic they chafe under and would like some changes to be effected. Power to the people. And that is not so far-fetched. Grand Ayatollah Khamenei is paying attention; he is none too pleased.

Iranians generally have been manipulated by their country's Supreme Leader and his presidential henchman to believe that their country and its heritage is under siege by the West. The people of Iran believe that malign forces exemplified by Israel and the U.S. are attempting to unseat the authority of their sovereignty.

The people of Iran are incensed that the West agitates against their right to acquire and use nuclear installations for domestic, peaceful purposes. They have been schooled to believe that Israel's possession of nuclear weapons poses a real threat to their existence. And as such, it makes perfectly good sense to them that they too be in possession of weapons of mass destruction.

It has somehow eluded them that Israel has never expressed an intent to attack Iran - until Iran's leaders felt compelled to utter, on the world stage, their intent to destroy Israel. What Iran's less intransigently religious population, the educated, the 70% of Iranians under 30 years of age, and its women resent is the lack of human rights imposed on them by a rigid authoritarian government.

Their vote for Mir Hossein Mousavi, the main competitor against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a vote to lift the repressive restrictions on daily life of Iranians, particularly student dissidents and women. Whether they're quite as concerned with the well-being of the Baha'i, or Iranian homosexuals is open for discussion.

But the resolve of a majority of the population to change the presidency has been met with an obscene resistance.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is fond of presenting his country as one, although fundamentally religious, still respectful enough of its population to adopt and to enshrine 'democracy' in the form of free and fair elections. This is what most Iranians truly want, democratic elections, to install politicians who will reflect their more relaxed, civilized values and priorities.

The carnival atmosphere of anticipation of change that permeated the country prior to the presidential vote was an exercise in naivety. How democratic could a vote be when the candidates were previously vetted, and had to gain acceptance by the Guardians Council before running for office to begin with? Only those deemed to be sufficiently in tune with the regime's rigid theocratic values were approved.

In point of fact, none of the four candidates could be termed 'reformist' in direction. It was only the wife of the second-leading candidate that could be remotely deemed to be reformist. Insisting on freedom for women from increasing religious repression. And since 49% of the voting public are women, that would garner quite a few votes. The vote was, in any event, a foregone conclusion.

Well before voting day Ayatollah Khamenei expressed his will that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad be returned to office. He is, after all, the president's puppet-master. He represented the inanely absurd vote-count as "a divine assessment", urging voters to support God's will by electing Mr. Ahmadinejad. A president who has since darkly warned those rebelling against the illicit election outcome that there will no longer be a place for them in Iran.

Votes to be hand-counted, ballot by ballot. Miraculously a mere six hours after the election had concluded it was declared that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had gained well over 60% of the votes, even in areas where it was logical that he would have no support; in the home towns of his adversaries he carried the day there too. Where all those votes came from is unclear.

There were raids on university campuses, students taken to prison, and nothing has since been heard of them. Hundreds of thousands of irate Iranians have taken to the streets in protest. Unauthorized protests, where police and guardsmen have been beating people, and where many have been severely injured, and seven protesters to date, have been killed.

Mr. Mousavi's campaign newspaper, in which he published documented evidence of election fraud, where he claims over ten million votes in the election were missing national identification numbers, making the ballots "untraceable", has been censored by the government, and cannot be distributed. His Web site complaining about security forces' interference has been blocked.

Were Mr. Mousavi to have replaced Mr. Ahmadinejad not much would have changed in Iran other than a lightening of the repressive measures taken against society, mostly female society. The hard-line Islamist Republic of Iran would continue its provocations, its insistence that it is entitled to acquiring domestic nuclear proficiency.

While at the same time it calls for the destruction of Israel and imaginatively highlights that position with artwork of nuclear detonations. That, however, is not an issue in the Iranian mass mind.

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