Iran: 18 Tir, Footage, Seeking Foreign Approval, Iran’s Slide to Military Rule, & more

1. 18 Tir Demonstrations: “Iranian pro-government Basij militia members dispersed crowds of protesters here Thursday — sometimes with force — witnesses said. An estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people crowded the streets in different locations of the city, and headed toward Tehran University, the site of a student uprising in 1999. Several protesters were hit on the arms and backs by the Basij, pro-government militia members, while elsewhere riot police released tear gas into crowds.”

2. Footage of the Protests: See the video here.

3. “People and Power” and iPouya on Seeking Foreign Approval: See the documentary “People and Power” here. The documentary is actually not very good but it includes some remarkable footage. One part I found annoying was when the interviewer speaks to two young Iranian men and one of them says that he is frustrated by the West’s perception of Iran and that “Iran is not Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Iraq.” What does that mean? Well, Iran is also not China, the US, France, and Mars either. And you know what else? The US is not Russia, Mexico, Canada, or Venus. I’m poking fun but in reality, I felt like he was saying that “the West” should not mix Iranians with “those people” implying that Iranians are better. And I don’t think I’m reading into it… I’ve heard similar but more blatant statements from Iranians time and again. And why is it that so many Iranians are always trying to explain themselves to foreigners? It seems as though so many are always looking for foreign approval. Ugh. If they were interviewing me and asked me “What message do you have for the West?” I’d say: “We don’t need your approval for anything. Leave us, our land, and our region alone. Fascism, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, and WWI and WWII originated in Europe. You have mastered the art of mass murder, yet we have to explain ourselves to you?” And then I’d conclude by paying a tribute to Michael Jackson by doing the moonwalk, haha.
4. Iran’s Slide to Military Rule: “…That is the culmination of a trend that began as long ago as 1989, when Ayatollah Khamenei succeeded Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic. Lacking the religious credentials, or the charisma, of his predecessor, Mr Khamenei built up a power base in the Revolutionary Guards. Since Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was first elected four years ago, commentators have seen an acceleration of that trend, with the guards now assigned multi-billion dollar contracts to help secure their loyalty. As much as two years ago, some western diplomats were talking about a slow and silent military coup taking place. The power of the clergy has been steadily diminished.”

5. From the TehranBureau – “A loud voice cannot compete with a clear one”: “Iran has experienced two revolutions in the course of less than a century. The Islamic Revolution of 1979 was preceded by the Constitutional Revolution of 1906, which led to the establishment of a parliament. Will the events of recent days lead yet to another? I certainly do not think so. I think — and hope — that we have learned our lesson. Nowhere else in our recent history have we had so many questions, such a non-violent thirst for figuring things out. Today there is the chance, no matter how confined or restricted, to look back at a century of struggle for independence and freedom. To decipher the weaknesses, the strengths and  explore the demons that led us to our present state of being. The period of relative silence leading up to 18 Tir is perhaps proof that we live in a world where we all crave stability more than chaos, calm more than resistance or revenge. But more than that, I think this also goes to show what we have learned the hard way: A loud voice cannot compete with a clear one, even if it’s just a whisper. This — this bouncing of thoughts and ideas, this constant production of words and stories and our constant struggle — may perhaps have taught us that power lies not only in the images of burnt flags and broken windows. It will be our words, thoughts and ideas that will prove, in the long run, the most powerful.”

6. Protests Made Up of the Middle Class? Professor Dabashi Differs: Read the whole article here. Excerpt: “Of a total Iranian population of 72 million, upward of 70 per cent are under the age of 30. While the total rate of unemployment under Ahmadinejad, predicated on correspondingly high numbers under Khatami’s two-term presidency, is 30 per cent, this rate, according to Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, the most reliable Iranian economist around, for young people between the ages of 15 and 29 (some 35 per cent of the total population) is 70 per cent. So seven out of every 10 people in this age group can scarce find a job, let alone marry, let alone have children and form a family. In exactly what phantasmagoria definition of ‘the middle class’ can they hope to be included? Let me cite other statistics. You must have noticed the overwhelming presence of women in these demonstrations. Right? Now, 63 per cent of university entrants in Iran are women, but they make up only 12.3 per cent of the workforce. In other words, one out of every two women university graduates earn their degrees and then go back to live with their parents, remain a burden on their limited budget, and can only hope to leave their parents’ home if they find a husband among those three out of 10 young men who may be lucky enough to find a job that would enable them to marry. In what Marxist, Keynesian, or neoliberal definition of this blessed ‘middle class’ would they fit?”

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