Thursday, June 25, 2009

Breaking the barrier of fear

Hamid Dabashi, NYT:
I see the moment we are witnessing as a civil rights movement rather than a push to topple the regime... These young Iranians are not out in the streets seeking to topple the regime for they lack any military wherewithal to do so, and they are alien to any militant ideology that may push them in that direction.

It seems to me that these brave young men and women have picked up their hand-held cameras to shoot those shaky shots, looking in their streets and alleys for their Martin Luther King... Like the color of green, the very figure of Moussavi has become, it seems to me, a collective construction of their desires for a peaceful, nonviolent attainment of civil and women's rights. They are facing an army of firearms and fanaticism with chanting poetry and waving their green bandannas. I thought my generation had courage to take up arms against tyranny. Now I tremble with shame in the face of their bravery.

USA Today: Negar Mortazavi, who lives in Washington, D.C., stays in touch with Iranian friends who have been protesting in Tehran. On Saturday, a male student described on the phone violent clashes between protesters, police and plainclothes militia. One scene stood out, and 'he couldn't believe his eyes... He decided it was time to start running when the police were coming. He turned back and saw some women still standing. These women are not afraid.'

Diavad Salehi-Isfahani, NYT: Rapidly expanding health and educational opportunities since the revolution have transformed the Iranian family from traditional to modern, turning women from mothers and housewives into spouses, the Persian word for which -- hamsar -- literally means equal.

With the decline of patriarchy at home, demands for equal rights for women in society and greater social freedoms in general have grown. This is why Mr. Moussavi's call to remove the morality police from the streets resonated so strongly with youth and the larger middle class... He promised to promote the rule of law and greater equality of opportunity.

Laura Secor, The New Yorker: What is new today is not that cracks have opened inside a monolithic system, or even that particularly powerful figures, like Rafsanjani, have broken onto the side of the reformers. What is new is the fierce mass movement from below, this is not confined to students and intellectuals but seems to span demographics and age groups. Even while exercising legal rights, nonviolent methods, and issuing constant appeals to Islam and to the ideals of the revolution, this movement has openly defied Khamenei, the Basij, and the Revolutionary Guards, by ignoring the threats of bloodshed and mayhem. Nothing like that has happened in thirty years...

Even if they lose, Mousavi and his supporters will have permanently changed the landscape of protest in Iran by breaking what had once seemed an impermeable barrier of fear.
Image source here.