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Last week, participants at an event at Tehran’s Allameh Tabatabai University found printed copies of the online opposition newspaper “Kaleme" placed on their seats, according to at least two people who were present at the event, including a lecturer.

“Kaleme” was launched last fall by the Kalame website, which is close to opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi. The site has called on readers to print out the issues, which are available in PDF and JPEG formats, and share them with “neighbors, classmates, and colleagues.”

About 400 people attended last Saturday’s reception in the Faculty of Social Sciences of Allameh University, which was held in commemoration of Mohammad Abdollahi, a prominent social researcher and scholar who passed away December 24.

The lecturer, in political sociology, said he was surprised when he found “Kaleme" on his seat. He said his first reaction was to try to hide it. He said he looked around and saw that others didn’t seem as surprised as he was. Some people, he said, put the leaflets in their pockets, while others said they already had that issue and offered it to others.

“I was amazed by seeing these leaflets," he said. "Especially when what you see on the Internet is about new arrests of students, political activists, and journalists, when what you see on television is nothing but the overall victory of the state over its opposition.

"But the reality on the ground is that this general dissatisfaction exists among certain sections of the public. And after a year and a half of severe repression, it is only seeking new ways to project itself and pursue its demands.”

Iranian authorities repeatedly talk about the utter defeat of the opposition Green Movement, or “the sedition” as they call it, and state media is filled with propaganda against the prominent figures of this movement. There have been also calls by hard-liners for their arrest and trial.

Nevertheless, students and other advocates of reform inside Iran seem as determined as ever in showing their opposition to government policies.

A Ph.D. student at Allameh Tabatabai University, who was also attending last week’s reception, said: “Whenever there is a public gathering, something which is quite rare these days in Tehran, especially inside universities or other cultural centers, you just see that in the public’s mind and heart, the demand for change in nearly every aspect of society is as powerful as it used to be.

"The regime tried to create something like the Tiananmen Square crackdown but has never been able to heal the wounds of this with some kind of economic prosperity or cultural reform.”

One of the latest issues of “Kaleme,” which is available in Kurdish, is focused on the “repression of minorities."

Here is a video from last November reportedly showing “Kaleme” being copied and printed in the city of Ghazvin:



-- Golnaz Esfandiari

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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