I am now genuinely scared about what might happen to Iran. I fear that this movement for freedom and democracy that took us all by surprise with it depth and breadth, its courage and resilience, will be choked into silence. I am afraid that we will have to face many more years of an even more fascistic theocracy or “thugocracy”, in the words of Robin Wright. The people, activists, young and old, male and female, can only stand for so long in the face of the vicious brutality that the Khamenei regime inflicts. Especially if they stand more or less alone.
The response of the world to the election fraud and ensuing clamp-down by the Ahmadinejad government has been very lukewarm. Despite the overly cautious reaction of the world leaders, especially Obama, Ahmadinejad and Khamenei have accused the West and particularly the British of outright involvement in the post-election uprising and struggle. Ahmadinejad had the gall to lecture the U.S president when he condemned the use of violence against the protestors, comparing him to Bush despite the latter’s very cautious and light condemnation of atrocities.
Now, I ask myself, why is it that a movement so popular, so huge, with such a good purpose as unseating Ahmadinejad and ushering in an Iranian Perestroika would be so shyly supported by Obama and his democratic administration?
The hatred for the Neo-Cons and the after-taste of eight years of Bush has made the democrats and the left in general in the West very timid about opposing anyone who the Republicans opposed. In fact, the ‘politically correct’ West tends to think that the aspirations for freedom and liberal democracy are purely Western ideals lacking genuine popular support in other parts of the world. They see us as naïve natives who can’t tell the difference between a leader who wants to help us and one who wants to bomb us. So they don’t offer us help! They think that Islamic extremism is more genuine and indigenous and that democratic liberalism is an imperialist import. Their anti-imperialism blinds them to atrocities committed by local bullies. They cannot fathom that we are sophisticated enough to want western style democracy: you know, the kind where you vote and they actually count it! This hurts and isolates the Iranian people.
The people in Iran want more outrage to be voiced by the world’s democratic leaders and especially Obama. They want more outright support. They, like the rest of the world, fell in love with Obama, and expected him to show leadership and pick the right side. After so much bloodshed and violence committed by Ahmadinejad’s government all of us Iranians, or most of us, freedom seeking Iranians want Obama’s help. Iranians no longer understand his pragmatism, his naïve belief in being able to negotiate with these evil thugs. People who can shoot pregnant women, club to death teenagers and audacious enough to rig this big an election will certainly lie at the negotiating table as well.
Obama, whom I and many other Iranian-Americans voted for, should not sacrifice his chance to support a righteous people’s movement to save his ambition of negotiating the nuclear issue with this sullied regime. They will lie and stall and do everything they can to get that bomb. To expect otherwise after this show of ideological extremism on their part is simply naïve.
Obama will have wide support in Iran despite what ‘experts’ say. Iranians do not buy and are fed up with Ahmadinejad’s scapegoating of the West and America. We have moved far beyond what the analysts call our ‘complicated history’ with the U.S. We are being slaughtered by our own and are no longer suspicious of imperialistic aspirations of Obama’s America. We are a sophisticated people capable of understanding historic context and political nuance! Iran is neither Afghanistan nor Iraq. We have a very educated population. Sixty percent of our University students are women; we have twenty-four million internet users and sixty thousand bloggers in Iran. A majority of our people voted for change like Americans did with Obama.
Many excited about the success of the Mousavi campaign linked it to the Obama effect. In fact, his campaign seemed to borrow from Obama’s message of change and a break from the past. The other popular-amongst-students-candidate, Karoubi chose the logo, “Change for Iran.” Mousavi’s wife, Ms. Rahnavard, with loads of charisma and the only wife who has actively campaigned for her husband in the history of this so-called Republic, was repeatedly compared to Michelle Obama by her young female followers.
The Mousavi campaign, however successful, did not end with an inaugural celebration but with a blood bath. Our worse nightmare came true. The campaign was heavily rigged and outright stolen by coup headed by the Supreme Leader himself. Ahmadinejad was declared the victor and people took their anger and sense of betrayal to the streets.
Millions showed up and silently protested. Their numbers gave their supporters hope and inspiration. The world cheered them on as they were beaten and harassed by the Ninja looking death squads and plain-clothed thugs. Each day the suppression of the people got worse until people started dying and their deaths were youtubed to the world. People on social networking sites like Twitter or Facebook started following the story of lone protestors clicking away their news and those images, those images that made the world weep. One girl, Neda whose horrible death by a gun shot in the heart, captured on a phone video and sent out on the internet, was so moving and heart-wrenching that it became the symbol of the entire struggle.
Still, we only get a condemnation out of Obama and the rest of the democratic world does not do much more. It is time to see the difference between one Islamic state and another; it is time to see the nuances and the context. It is time to see that in the case of Iran supporting the right side, the side of freedom and democracy, is the right thing to do. Show us some outrage! Help us oust these thugs who have desecrated the religion of our ancestors and robbed us of our human rights.
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