With that short answer, a young woman I met while strolling through a park in ancient Shiraz summed up what has happened to the protest movement that shook Iran and electrified the world after last year's disputed presidential election.
For weeks after the election, and then for months, crowds of angry Iranians poured onto the streets of major cities protesting the quick announcement that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won re-election by a decisive margin. They were harshly repressed. Police officers and pro-government thugs beat demonstrators, killed some and arrested many more. Since the beginning of this year, there have been no large protests. I came to Iran eager to learn why.
The answer I found confirmed an age-old truth: Governments use repression against protesters for the simple reason that it usually works. It certainly seems to have worked here.
Almost no foreign journalists have been admitted to Iran in recent months, and correspondents who lived here have been expelled or forced to flee. I entered the country on a tourist visa, meaning that I was forbidden to meet government officials, opposition figures or activists of any sort.
Before my trip, I wrote to several of my Iranian friends asking for names of interesting people I could meet here. “All the interesting people I know are in jail,” one curtly replied. Another sent a longer answer.
“I am very reluctant to put you in touch with people,” he wrote. “I am no... >>>
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