Official Iranian media were up to their usual tricks with Students Day
upon them, as well as another anniversary of the 1999 student protests in Tehran that sparked a violent crackdown.
State media like Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) branded the hundreds of pro-democracy students marching
at Tehran University in the center of the capital on December 7 a "militia group" and an "illegal branch of the Office to Foster Unity" (Daftare Tahkim Vahdat, Iran's largest reformist student organization). It accused participants and "pseudo-students" of exploiting the anniversary to "create mayhem."
IRNA also managed a creative spin to low-ball attendance and quash perceptions of public sympathy for the pro-democracy crowd:
The savage moves and insulting slogans of this small group were so bizarre that the lecturers, students, and passersby stopped to watch their violent behavior.
As you might expect, IRNA felt more kindly disposed toward the "university students and seminaries" protesting Islamic and international silence over events in Gaza.
How many participants at those rallies? "Large numbers." Go figure.
-- Andy Heil