For the "Iran, a reflection" Series:
I had an odd feeling at the airport this morning. I was carrying my backpack waiting to board the plane. My thoughts went back almost 30 years, to July 1980, when I went back to Iran with a backpack and a suitcase full of newspaper clippings of the 1979 revolution. I had just graduated from an American high school and was dying to go join the revolution and do whatever I could to help the Islamic Republic.
This time my backpack is stuffed with green shirts and my laptop. I'm going to Paris to take part in the July 25 demonstrations against Ahmadinejad's bogus election. I want to see the unraveling of the long green scroll with signatures gathered from all over the world supporting the democratic movement in Iran.
Thirty years ago, there was no talk of democracy. No emphasis on human rights. No general appreciation for basic freedoms. Today, thanks to the abysmal failure of the Islamic Republic, freedom and democracy have become common currency in every discussion about Iran.
I have a good feeling about the future. I feel this god-awful theocracy is on its way out. The Islamic Republic's legitimacy has been seriously -- and I believe irreparably -- damaged. The regime is not going to go away this year. Maybe not even in a few years. But whether the present Khamenei dictatorship continues or a milder Islamic Republic takes shape under Rafsanjani, it's pretty clear that the great majority of people want an end to religious rule. Democracy is no longer an obscure theory, it's not seen as a western conspiracy, it's become the aspiration of a nation.
The green movement is the real deal. It's not going to go away. People are finding all sorts of creative ways to continue their protests. Fear of the regime and its thugs has evaporated. Civil disobedience is spreading and we will see general strikes by teachers, students and workers in the not so distant future. The regime is relying on a very small fraction of the population to impose its will. But it cannot silence or control the vast majority of people. Even by force.
The future is bright.
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