Give violence a chance!

Self-defense against brutal regimes is an act of civic responsibility


Give violence a chance!
by Siamack Baniameri

Strangest things can happen in your local Middle Eastern market in America. I was pushing my shopping cart down the aisle while glancing at fast-moving images of the Libyan uprising on CNN. A few Arab men had huddled around the TV, quietly watching as events unfolded.

As I turned my attention back to my shopping list, I noticed a Libyan acquaintance, standing by the pickle section, carefully studying the labels. Hoping for a quick getaway, I looked the other way and moved swiftly past him.

“You Persians are bunch of pussies,” the Libyan whispered.

“Beg your pardon?!!”

“You Persians should learn to fight... like us. Haven't you been watching TV? That’s how you fight a government... with courage,” The Libyan exclaimed.

“Well, we are trying to keep it non-violent...”

The Libyan interrupted and said, “oh, that’s right. I forgot. You are fighting the British Empire.”

Back in the car, I pondered over the conversation I had with the Libyan. I figured the man, in his crude, barbaric way, was trying to make an important point.

Nowadays, it’s hard to miss debates among diaspora Iranian intellectuals about justifications for non-violent resistance. While Arabs are grabbing all the headlines, the Iranian freedom movement has gone unnoticed by major western news organizations. This is not sitting well with Iranian experts in US and Europe whose five-minute TV spots on CNN, FOX, BBC and MSNBC have gone to their Arab counterparts.

Arabs are grabbing all the headlines for two simple reasons: They seem to be more engaged and aggressive in their fight against their governments (some as brutal as IRI) … and it’s good ratings for 24-hour news networks to show people who actually engage in street battles against heavily armed security forces. It happens that bravery is good TV.

While watching an Iranian satellite news program the other day, I heard the guest thanking Iranian demonstrators for their passive resistance and allowing security forces to attack and beat them. The guest applauded people for their “patience and tolerance.”

Flashing a big smile, the gentleman who, like you and me, is far removed from the action, told the host that, “legitimacy of the movement will be magnified when videos of brutal beatings surface on YouTube!” In a sense, the gentleman was proposing that as Iranian people get their asses handed to them, YouTube-watching nerds fall more and more in love with them! Well, this formula lost its usefulness a long time ago.

Iranian intellectuals don’t seem to understand the difference between acts of violence and self-defense. Every citizen of every country has a right to defend itself against brutality inflicted by its government. And those who discourage people from defending themselves against brutality are irresponsible.

A person who goes out in the street to demand her rights to free speech and equality (with no intentions of instigating destruction or mischief) should be allowed to defend herself against attacks by those who intent to cause bodily harm (notice I used “her” instead of “him” in the sentence because I believe that Iranian women have bigger balls than the men. But that’s a discussion for some other time).

Acts of self-defense bring order to chaos for people and chaos to order for the government. It brings people together for a common cause. It organizes masses and gives them purpose. The government thugs think twice before raising their hands on people. The officials fear people who are determined to defend themselves. People will start trusting each other again. The Iranian freedom movement will flourish and will gain the support of massive labor movement and lower middle class and the poor. Active resistance turns confusion to cohesion.

The news of university students assaulted by thugs will bring hundreds of thousands to the rescue. A woman harassed by security forces out in the street will unleash collective acts of self-defense by all those who witness the act. Passive resistance and standing on the sideline will give way to enthusiasm and active participation.

Make no mistake about it. Iranian people are no pushovers. The acts of self-defense displayed during last year’s Ashura demonstrations rattled the regime to the point of self-destruction. People’s resistance and street battles with security forces during that two-day period brought such disarray to the regime that Mousavi and Karroubi saw no alternative but to pull the rug from under people’s feet.

At the end of the day, the Iranian people need to answer this question: are we going to continue playing the role of sacrificial lamb for politicians who want to legitimize their questionable pasts or are we going to push back.

Now you perhaps are thinking here goes another expat sitting at home, telling the people inside of Iran what to do. And my answer to you is... yes I am.


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Darius Kadivar

Ari Jaan I fail to see the Opportunism in the Libyan Uprising ?

by Darius Kadivar on

The Libyan People were Bombed, Shelled by Tanks, Warplanes and blown to smitherins by their President for Life for merely demonstrating peacefully like in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt but the International community remained idle to their suffering for more than a month while they were being slaughtered to general indifference:

US, UN, Europe and the Arab League SHAME ON YOU !

IMPOTENCE IN ACTION: Western Powers Can't Figure Out How To Deal with Gaddafi
QUO VADIS ? Nero Sings While Tripoli and Tehran burn 

Libya's Exiled Crown Prince calls on world to stop 'massacre,' remove Gaddafi
        And the Conflict is lingering again due to the fact that the US, yes the US and it's undeserving Nobel Peace Prize Laureate at the helm has been hindering any Nato Initiative particularly of FRance and the UK in taking charge and finishing off the Libyan tyrant despite having all the legal rights to do it based on the 1973 UN resolution: 


PRECISION DRILLING: Allied Military Operations in Libya in Progress ...

As well as repeated calls from by Libyan's themselves to see the Allies interfere more actively on ground ( than merely be content with an inefficient No Fly Zone):

Libya: Rebel leader accuses Nato of failing civilians (bbc)


In contrast I find that quite the contrary if there was any opportunism and hypocritical cynicism it was and continues to be displayed by Western Liberals be it in Europe or the US who were more outraged by two or three camels and horses on Tahrir Square :


CAMEL SPOTTING: First reactions to Mubarak's Speech on Tahrir Square


AUTHENTIC FRONTIER GIBBERISH: Egypt's Rebuffs Washington's Speed Up Calls ;0) 


Than by the Sad Spectacle of a Legitimate Struggle for Freedom:


BREAD & CIRCUS: It Ain't about Democracy or HR Stupid, It's About Show Business



But I guess Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and other Overpaid Gauche Caviar Fashion Victims have too much thinking to do these days to worry about a bunch of "savages" trying to defend their wives and children and old men and women from being slaughtered by a Libyan Nero who would have made an excellent actor on Saturday Night Live or the Daily Show had he chosen a different career ...


QUO VADIS ? Nero Sings While Tripoli and Tehran burn 


Recommended reading:


Arabs Will Be Free : On Libya Be Ruthless or Stay Out by Roger Cohen ( NY Times)



Related Blogs:


WHO'S THE EXPERT? John Simpson Proves Barbara Slavin Wrong on Libya


CLUELESS JON STEWART: "Ebrahim Yazdi Such a Lovely Man"


So how do you fight? Well if

by alimostofi on

So how do you fight? Well if you read the Zend Avesta it will tell you how. The Ancient Iranian book speaks of the intelligent mind set. It uses the phrase Good Mind. You all know the famous saying Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds. Well I am talking about the Good Thoughts bit.

When the Christians asked Hypatia what she believed in, she said philosophy and they eventually killed her. Look at the film Agora and learn how Egypt lost its glorious library and ancient cultureby not having a principle that endured time.

What Iranians did was to hard wire into our ancient culture the concept of thinking and existing. The Zend Avesta introduced Free Will and Good Mind. This all seems a little too intellectual and philosophical but that is what has keep our sanity. Sanity comes from using your brain to see the differences and making the choice for you. There is no right or wrong. You have free will. So accept that and move on. Free will is so wonderfully shown in the film Bruce Almighty, but Morgan Freeman does not tell you to read the Zend Avesta.

And folks that it the problem. A lot of what the modern world accepts as its own discoveries are found in Iran. But it is seen as bad taste to look like that idiot in the party that kept shouting out and saying everything started in Iran. So what do you do? Well for a start say it to other Iranians, just like I have been doing it , and am regarded as the biggest fool. But does it bother me? No. Why, because teachers are always thought of as fools by the cool guys who have style but no brains. So you guys who are cool need to make it fashionable to talk about these concepts, and show the world that it is Iranain culture.

Oh sure the Green fingr thing worked for a while and it was fashionable for girls to makes hearts with their thumb and forefinger etc etc, but no one explained the engine behind that. You need to get into the philosophical roots of all this. You need to all relate to the roots of the old Green Movement as written in the Zend Avesta. That then brings 12780 years of Iranian history front and centre.

Ali Mostofi




200 million people and ten

by alimostofi on

200 million people and ten countries have forced the Ayatollahs to accept the old non violent cultural ways. Not one Ayatollah was hurt in Chahar Shanbeh Soori. Not one Ayatollah was insulted in Saleh Tahvil. Not one Ayatollah had a Sabzeh thrown at him in Sizdeh Bedar. Not one Iranian missed any of these occasions at the time of Noruz. We are one nation and not one Ayatollah dares not to shut up and join in. Khomeini is turning in his grave. Tomorrow when the regime goes and you walk past an Ayatollah in the supermarket and he asks you to get that box from the top shelf you will not be mad and stupid.

Ali Mostofi



hamsade ghadimi

mash ghasem, i agree that

by hamsade ghadimi on

mash ghasem, i agree that the iranian sudents are much savvier than those 30 years ago.  they're not parroting some manifesto, are more jaded through events in iran and the world, and actively debate on issues and politics.  they've also matured a lot since, say, 10 years ago when i had difficulty engaging the youth in political and social discussion.  i think they will try different methods and are not necessarily married to non-violence.  at any rate, there has always been and will be plurality of ideas.  they've also have learned hard lessons from the 79 revolution and will be much prudent in the formation of the next regime (one would hope).

i think that you're reading too much into the grass-root labor organizations of tunisia and egypt.  i think sponaneity of the events in those countries simply caught their governments off guard.  and as sajadpour's guest on his non-violence panel said, the verdict is still not out with the outcome of egypt's (and possibly tunisia's) struggle.  i think the egyptians have done a tremendous job in bringing down mubarak and would never want to minimize their effort.  for the very least, they have been empowered by realizing that they can make a difference with collective effort.  but still, in post-pharoah egypt, only military men have ruled (nasser, sadat, mubarak) and now a "seemingly" leaderless military is ruling the country.

Mash Ghasem


by Mash Ghasem on

HG, very good points about the frankenstein and all. Although we might not have a religious network working for the opposition, the sheer growth of the society itself has created many more spaces, possibilities, and resources to work with, which did not exist in '79. As an example:  university students in '79 were about only 37,000, now they're around 300,000. Higher education has spread around the country, whereas before it was mainly in a few big cities.  And belive you me these university students are a lot more savoy than the '79 generation.

The violent part of '79 revolution was fairly short, and mainly limited to 20-22 Bahman.

There are  groups in Iran that have engaged IR is armed resistance, and still have maintained armed struggle as a tactic and as an option. At the same time they all have a catagorical emphasis on  the supreme importance of mass political organizing at the moment, as the ultimate priority. Mass organizing is the name of the game, there's no short cut around it.

P.S. Tunisia and Egypt were also blessed with a very organized and active working class movement and their unions ( an aspect almost never mentioned in the press), most other Arab countries don't have such working class social institutions active on a national level.




We Can't give Violence a chance and practically achieve success

by amirparvizforsecularmonarchy on

In order to counter act state violence with our own violence we would have to be organized and united under a leader.  That requires serious active participation, lots of money and proven leadership.

Self defence, a basic right is about as far as we can get.

People by themselves cannot free themselves from true tyranny. They need help and the West wants to keep mullahs in power because they weaken iran and strengthen western domination.  Don't forget USA, UK, Germany, and France all worked together and agreed on removing the Shah in favor of Khomeini.  And they are happy with their results.

Remember how we got here, we believed and labelled an idealist.. the late shah, a dictator, crook, foreign agent and tyrannical, when we peacefully opposed him he had his military lay down their weapons and not fight to defend the freedom of the country as he was no dictator and khomeini and his murderers came to power.

At the current rate of growth in 20 years Iran will be 30 % as rich as it was in 1979, and under these circumstances we can't admit we were completly wrong and either a) unite and serve under the shahs elder son or b) ask for him to lead a fight against the regime (as we betrayed his father).

We are busy preaching Jeffersonian democracy for a people that have no capability to achieve it.  And the traditions that have served us and the world well, our monarchy, we have put to the side.

To be Iranian is to be an Optimist and a cheeky one too.

hamsade ghadimi

you should've told the

by hamsade ghadimi on

you should've told the libyan that the libyans are screwing ghadafi with the british empire's manhood (and the french, u.s., italy, ...).  you may also remind him that his proverbial son will look nothing like him when it's all said and done.  we're compaing apples and oranges.  one of the main reasons that egyptians were successful with overthrowing mubarak (an individual) was because the egyptian military top brass is u.s. educated and can live to see another day.  a luxury that the islamic republic's sepah doesn't have. 

what about the rest of the arabs: jordan, syria, bahrain, and yemen.  syrian people's resistance resemebles the most to the iranians': the top dogs including the military have no where to go and their country is considered a pariah state.  they will fight tooth and nail against their people.  the rest of the arab countries (bahrain, jordan, yemen) have the backing of the world order and will be here to stay.  they will also fight tooth and nail and not even get media coverage.

the 79 revolution in iran was not non-violent.  it was well-financed by a well-organized web of mosques and clergy that went unnoticed during shah and was even strenghtened by the shah during his last decade.  he thought the real danger was the nationalists.  the leftists.  the mojaheds.  he made a frankenstein who brought the house down.  the islamists had the funds from the coffers of their mosques to payoff oil workers to strike, used the duplicity of taghieh to use the same mojaheds and leftists for an armed struggle.  they used the polished nationalist intellectuals  and their silver-tongued leaders to push their agenda.  and then they kicked them to the curb.  in today's iran, there's not an organization like the 79 mosque establishment in iran.

what i agree with you is the important role of women and their coherent agenda and desire to get rid of this regime.  they have much more at stake as they are the most oppressed segment of the society.  the biggest losers someone noted.  when i see the viloence is unleashed on the iranian people, i too wish that they could all rise up simultaneously and kick the bastard basijis, mullahs, sepah, and the mercenary in the teeth once and for all.  just as i wish there was a bomb that one could drop and no ordinary citizen, animal or building would be damaged and these thugs would vanish.  but it's much more complex than what the libyan makes it out to be: that iranians who oppose the islamic republic in iran are a bunch of pussies.  be honest, do you think the arabs would ever have anything positive to say about the ajam? i really believe that one of these demonstrations will snowball and will spontaneously get out of hand and the iranian people will throw the kitchen sink at the establishment and will rid themselves of the misery of velayat faghih.  i really do.  now, where's my latte?



by afshinazad on

With two point you made:

1- Iranain women are very brave and they should lead the movement. 

2- non violent imust be with self defence, if you get attacked you must defend yourself at any cost. and no part time demonstration.

3- Libya would never be the same and this country is going to long term civil war.

Ari Siletz

As the odds of victory increase...

by Ari Siletz on

...people will take more chances. Odds are slowly shifting in favor of the movement through non-violent resistance. At some point a threshold will be reached and the action will begin. Unlike the folks in Arab countries, Iranians are seasoned revolutionaries; so a few rounds of rope a dope without a power blow should not surprise us.

How seasoned are Iranians? With their improvised and oppotrunistic uprising, Libyan opposition will end up giving up independence in return for foreign support ; Iranian opposition is savvy to this.   

Anahid Hojjati

Great blog Siamak

by Anahid Hojjati on

Yes, even though we are part of Diaspora, we can tell the truth. Truth is that from summer of 2009, people should have given violence(self-defense) a chance. But same intellectuals who said movement was for civil rights, also said that people had to be peaceful. Again, thanks for a well written blog.


I like it and agree with it.

by Bavafa on

Self defense is a right of every human being and exercising it, is a duty.


Jahanshah Javid

makes sense to me!

by Jahanshah Javid on

i know what you're saying and it sounds reasonable.

but you're touching on a very fine line where right and wrong become very hard to distinguish.

ultimately, it's up to the people in iran. our private discussion thousands of miles away from the action will not have much of an impact.

thanks for another piece that made me laugh -- and think.