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Iranian Election Comedy: The Borowitz Report

June 16, 2009

With all the important and serious developments going on in Iran, a little comedy relief, from the Borowitz Report:

“Ahmadinejad Says Huge Crowds Are for ‘Iran’s Got Talent'”

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Hitchens on Iran: Don’t Call It An Election

June 16, 2009

You can disagree with Christopher Hitchens, but he knows how to turn a phrase…and paint a picture:

[f]or a flavor of the political atmosphere in Tehran, Iran, last week, I quote from a young Iranian comrade who furnishes me with regular updates:

I went to the last major Ahmadinejad rally and got the whiff of what I imagine fascism to have been all about. Lots of splotchy boys who can’t get a date are given guns and told they’re special.

It’s hard to better this, either as an evocation of the rancid sexual repression that lies at the nasty core of the “Islamic republic” or as a description of the reserve strength that the Iranian para-state, or state within a state, can bring to bear if it ever feels itself even slightly challenged. There is a theoretical reason why the events of the last month in Iran (I am sorry, but I resolutely decline to refer to them as elections) were a crudely stage-managed insult to those who took part in them and those who observed them.

President Obama’s Statement On Iranian Presidential Election

June 16, 2009

Obama walks a thin line, conscious that if America is seen to involve itself in the Mousavi movement, the existing Ahmadinejad government will use it to argue that foreign powers are behind the protests, not actual Iranians.

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Iranian Election: Will A Recount Matter?

June 16, 2009

In Iran, progress is being made towards a clarification of the election results. From the Economist:

Iran’s powerful Guardian Council says it is ready to recount disputed votes from Friday’s presidential poll.

It is far too soon to tell if this move is simply a mechanism to diffuse the momentum of the protesters or if it is a legitimate effort to rectify problems with the election. One thing is certain, however…there are plenty of eyes watching, all around the world.

The BBC’s Jon Leyne is reporting from Tehran and he is skeptical that the recount, even if it logistically possible and is done impartially, will satisfy either side in the debate. He gives an excellent explanation of the ever-shifting dynamic in the middle of the confusion:

I get the impression that the establishment in Tehran is deeply divided. For example, the influential speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani – no softie himself – has in effect criticised President Ahmadinejad by condemning the Interior Ministry, which is loyal to him, for its part in a raid on student dormitories on Sunday night.
The demonstrations are now threatening the whole Islamic Republic. Its very survival is at risk.
So people must be worried. They must think they have fallen asleep and woken up again in 1979, because this is an eerie re-run of the events before the Islamic Revolution that brought them to power.

Talking Violence

June 16, 2009

The killing of abortion Doctor George Tiller and the shooting at the US Holocaust museum have followed months of extraordinarily heated anti-government and anti-Obama rhetoric. Is there any connection? Or is political speech, however aggressive, an expression of opinion and not a call to action? A discussion on this topic is held here at NPR.

The Guests:

Kathleen Parker, syndicated columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group
Jamie Kirchick, assistant editor of New Republic. He wrote “The Religious Right Didn’t Kill George Tiller,” which appeared in the Wall Street Journal.
Carol M. Swain, author of The New White Nationalism In America and professor at Vanderbilt University Law School.

Iranian Election: Was Mousavi Told That He Had Won?

June 15, 2009

In the Economist’s coverage of the election and protests in Iran, a stunning claim by the defeated candidate:

Mr Mousavi claimed that he was told that he had won the election late on Friday, the day of voting, only to be greeted on Saturday morning with news of Mr Ahmadinejad’s official victory. Although Mr Ahmadinejad undoubtedly continues to enjoy considerable support, for example among conservatives and rural voters, the claimed scale of his triumph is unconvincing. It looks doubtful, for example, that Mr Mousavi and a fellow candidate, Mehdi Karoubi, would have received the few votes that were recorded in their respective home provinces. Mr Mousavi and Mohsen Rezai, another of Mr Ahmadinejad’s challengers, have lodged an official complaint about the results to the Council of Guardians, an unelected but powerful group of clerics that was supposed to oversee the polls.

I’d not heard this claim before and I hope Mousavi remains dignified and is not making claims only because he believes his supporters will want to hear them. If the claim is true, it is significant evidence of fraud that undermines any remaining legitimacy that Ahmadinejad has. If it is not true–and Mousavi has made a false claim–then his moral authority, at least, has taken a hit at a time when his supporters need him to remain beyond criticism.

Iran’s Green Revolution?

June 15, 2009

Andrew Sullivan’s site is full of Twitter reports from Iranians witnessing and participating in the demonstrations against the results of the recent elections. Some are estimating the crowds at more than one million. Iran is demanding Mousavi, free elections and real democracy. Reading these Twitter reports, with their urgency and defiance in the face of militia violence (reports are that five university students were killed and that the Basij militia are beating protesters) and government opposition, is to feel the forceful stirrings of a new era. There’s no telling how this will be resolved; Tiananmen, after all, was put down violently with no concessions from the leadership. But there is an insistent energy and righteousness in the wave of voices coming from the streets of Iran. A small sample:

Tomorrow rally at ValiAsr Sq. 5:00PM

State TV announced that they will “recount” voted again since tomorrow

Ahmadinejad called us Dust, we showed him a sandstorm.

Protesters writing “only Mousavi” on Freedon sqr. tower, Iran’s most prominent landmark

U beat (us),U kill,U cut, what DO u do with d unpreventable growth of new blooms” a Persian song*

ppl chanting “Police, police, support us”

also 6 students who were beaten last night in the dorm died today. they were from my university. we wore black today :((

Police destroyed computer

NOTE to HACKERS – attack http://www.farhang.gov.ir – pls try to hack all iran gov wesites. very difficult for us.

confirmed – ahmadinejad website hacked off net.

Intelligence calling homes and play recording saying “u participated in today’s march, don’t repeat”

Reports of gunfire in Tehran’s Saadatabad district

Tarasht dormitory is seiged by basij

Non stop sound of shooting heard in Tehran

after hearing about killing a person by Basij people from Ikbatan(a part of Tehran) came out & started another demonstration

People are shouting “This Blood in my veins will stop the coup”

Sources in #Tehran say candidate Mehdi Karrubi will speak in 2 hours. He’s protesting results w/#Mousavi.

Hearing Allaho Akbar and Down with dictator from all the roofs