The real world breaks in

I don’t get political on here very often.  Partially, it’s because I haven’t felt as politically combative the last few months– a little bit of 2008 election cycle fatigue, I think.

Today, though, I’m frustrated.  By problems around the world I feel powerless to help and by a media that is only sort of covering an incredibly important event that will effect us.  It’s not just that the Iranian election will have consequences for our own foreign policy. We should care because our fellow human-being is being denied basic rights now, and they– especially the women of Iran, who have seen freedoms rolled back by Ahmadinejad the last four years– will only have more rights stripped from them.

I hate the way that words like “freedom” and “democracy” have been co-opted to mean something vaguely imperialistic and paternalistic.  The truth is, the people of Iran were enthusiastic about this election.  Women, especially, were excited and involved.  Young people, too.  And now that excitement has been turned into bitterness and rage.  And I can’t blame them.  It’s unacceptable.  It is incredibly difficult to get information out of Iran right now, but many people are doing their best to get the information out, at personal risk to their safety.  But we’re barely paying attention.

There are pictures here.

You can find more news here.

It’s way past midnight in Tehran, but this city is not sleeping. Outside on the streets, people are honking their horns in protest and stretching their hands out of cars making peace signs — a sign of support for Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the opposition candidate apparently defeated by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran’s presidential election on Friday.

In neighborhoods across north and central Tehran, shouts of “Death to dictator!” fill the air, mostly in female voices, coming from house windows. There are also shouts of “Allah-o Akbar!” — reminiscent of the revolution — on the urging of a communique from Mousavi’s office.

Some of Tehran’s main streets have been turned into urban battlegrounds. Groups of mostly young men have set large garbage bins on fire in the middle of streets, torn out street signs and fences, broken the windows and ATM machines of state banks, and burnt at least five large buses in the middle of streets.

“They have totally fooled us,” said one sad man, a 32-year-old state employee, standing by the roadside. “This time they went too far. They just want to eliminate ‘republic’ and turn this into an Islamic dictatorship,” he said with a sigh.

On Ghaem-Magham Street, a lone chadori woman stood by the roadside, making a peace sign with her index finger wrapped in a green ribbon, saying “Mousavi” to every passing car. Out of 50 cars that passed, all but 5 either honked, rolled down their windows to shout their support, or made peace signs in solidarity. […]

Then a man in a car moving in the other direction rolled down his window and shouted at her in anger, “You whore! Why are you creating conflict between people?” A basiji (a member of the volunteer paramilitary aligned with Ahmadinejad) charged at her from nowhere with a metal rod and was about to beat her when he was held down and beaten himself by five or six men streaming out of nearby cars.

“I mean, just look at this! If Ahmadinejad won 25 million votes, which they claim, we should be celebrating, right?” an onlooker commented.

I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse.



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