Will Tehran choose the Tiananmen solution?

An east-west street of more than 30 miles divides Tehran, Iran’s megapolis of a capital, into two halves: a modern north and a traditional south. Thirty years ago the thoroughfare was named after Reza Shah, the founder of the Pahlavis, the last dynasty of monarchs in Iran. Today it is called Enghelab (Revolution) Street after the turmoil that led to the creation of the first theocracy in the country’s history.

In one of those ironies of which Iranian history is full, on February 11, the anniversary of the Khomeinist seizure of power, Revolution Street will be the dividing line between two forces fighting for the country’s future. Under an informal deal negotiated between the authorities and the opposition, two rival marches will be held to mark the anniversary.

Pro-government rent-a-mob crowds will have their orgy of clenched fists and “Death to America” to the south of the street; the pro-democracy movement will march north of Revolution Street, shouting “No to Islamic Republic, Yes to an Iranian Republic!” and “Down with the Dictator!”

Iran’s division into two camps was revealed last June when Ali Khamenei, the “Supreme Guide”, endorsed the results of what most Iranians believe to be a fraudulent election, which gave President Ahmadinejad a landside and a second four-year term. Over the past eight months, however, the dispute has moved beyond the issue of a stolen election as a fully-fledged pro-democracy movement has emerged... >>>

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