Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Persian Letters

Iran's ‘Day of Rage’

Opposition figures Mir Hossein Musavi (right) and Mehdi Karrubi want to hold a rally on February 14. Opposition figures Mir Hossein Musavi (right) and Mehdi Karrubi want to hold a rally on February 14.
Opposition figures Mir Hossein Musavi (right) and Mehdi Karrubi want to hold a rally on February 14.
Opposition figures Mir Hossein Musavi (right) and Mehdi Karrubi want to hold a rally on February 14.
Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hossein Musavi and Mehdi Karrubi have asked the Interior Ministry for permission to hold a rally on February 14 at Tehran's Azadi Square in support of the recent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

"In order to show solidarity with the popular movements in the region, particularly the freedom-seeking movement of the Tunisian and Egyptian people against their autocratic governments, we hereby request permit to call for a rally –- as Article 27 of the constitution authorizes – on Monday, 25 Bahman (February 14) at 3 p.m. from Imam Hossein to Azadi Square."

The authorities are not likely to approve the rally. Only state-sponsored demonstrations are allowed in the Islamic Republic, and past requests by the opposition to hold rallies have either been ignored or denied.

Yet the request puts Iranian leaders in a difficult position. They have been very vocal in their support of the popular uprisings in the Arab countries, which they see as an "Islamic awakening.”

If authorities do decide to allow the rally, then it is likely members of the Green opposition movement will turn it into an antiregime demonstration, especially at a time when many in Iran have been watching events in the region with interest and envy.

Should they decide not to issue a permit for the rally, then the decision would be in contrast with their official statements and expression of support and encouragement for the Tunisian and Egyptian people.

An Iranian opposition member who is close to the reformist camp told Persian Letters that the opposition leaders are aware that officials are likely to refuse them permission to hold the rally. He added, however, that they hope that the request will enliven an opposition movement that has come under great pressure since the 2009 antigovernment mass street protests.

"I don't think there will be a demonstration because there won't be a permit. [Musavi and Karrubi] took the step knowing that,” the opposition member said. “But I think they want to blow a fresh breath into the movement. Otherwise all the key members of the Green movement are either in jail, in exile, or out of jail on heavy bail, and are not likely to come to the streets."

Despite that, shortly after Musavi and Karrubi's request was made public, opposition websites, blogs and social networking sites were flooded with messages of support, pictures, and posters calling on Iranians to take to the streets on February 14.

A February 14 page created on Facebook is gaining members, both among Iranian expats and Iranians inside the country.

Many Iranians have changed their Facebook profile pictures to a Green picture with the date February 14 written on it.

Slogans are also circulating for what is being described by some as Iran's “Day of Rage," including: "Down with Dictators, Be it In Cairo or Tehran" and "Marg bar Dictatori, Che Shotori, Che Motori" (which translates as “death to dictatorships that are being enforced with camels or motorcycles.”) The former refers to Egypt, the latter to Basij forces in Iran that often use motorbikes.

It remains to be seen whether the online activism will translate into action. Many observers express doubt because of the repression and ongoing crackdown. Yet Iranians have shown in the past that they can be unpredictable when it comes to political decisions.

An adviser to Musavi, Amir Arjomand, told the opposition "Jaras" website that he won't make any pre-judgment on whether authorities will allow the February 14 rally, while expressing hope that the regime will allow Iranians to show their support for the people of Tunisia and Egypt.

"Asking for permission to hold a rally is in fact a test for those who have been claiming for a long time that the Green movement is dead and doesn't exist," he said.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: We The People from: iran
February 08, 2011 06:23
their numbers ( the so called Green movement) are few , mostly funded by western governments to destabalize the Iranian Regime , we all know they are not popular among the majority of Iranians ... so if the western governments are hoping this guys (Mosavi and Karobi) can bring about any change , dream on
In Response

by: The people of Iran ملت from: Iran
February 08, 2011 08:00
We, the green movement, are the majority. Any kid can go to youtube and see the millions we were against the regime in the streets and compare it to the few that come out on pro-government rallies (adding the fact buses drive them from all over the country to the rally point and the fact oppression made most of us not daring come out).
In Response

by: Anonymous
February 08, 2011 08:16
Some people just read too much 'Keyhan'.
If the number of the Green Movement supporters is low, why doesn't the regime allow them to demonstrate? Is it afraid that few people go to streets?!
Didn't the movement gather millions WITHOUT TV advertisements, when even our army didn't provide the slightest support for people like the Egyptian army did?
No 'U.S. funded' movement can gather so many people, unless the people WANT to gather.
In Response

by: True people from: iran
February 08, 2011 08:20
To we the people: since when the traitors to all Iranian values call themselves "we the people". In Islamic Iran whoever criticizes the regime immediately branded as agent of the west. It is done so to cover up their own mission for in fact they are the foreign agent and occupying power who are working hard to destroy, steal and obliterate whatever is Persian. Down with barbaric Islamic regime of Iran
In Response

February 08, 2011 19:11
if these green movement are few, so let them have their demonstration in peace, why then Regime afraid of letting a few group have their demonstration ?!?

by: Real Iranian from: Tehran-IRAN
February 08, 2011 08:30
If it is like what so called "we the people" said,then why they are afraid of permitting the rally !?
Lets try holding the rally and see who is FEW !?

by: Hamik C Gregory from: Reno, NV USA
February 08, 2011 16:20
[The Days of Rage] in Iran are intimately associated with the thousands of Iranian laborers who are not getting paid on monthly bases. Their salaries are probably being requisitioned to be sent to the Arabs in the British Palestine. These people want to support their families but the regime in Tehran can not deliver it. Where can one go in Iran to find people angrier than those whose industrious productiveness are not being properly rewarded? To these people, Mr. Karrubi and Mr.Mussavi, are completely irrelevant. Who in Iran cares about spineless dissidents when their stomachs are hungry? Should we focus on these pathetic political caricatures whose histories are deeply rooted in the Islamic Revolution when millions people in Iran are jobless? I don’t think so!

by: Zoltan from: Hungary
February 08, 2011 20:29
I have one question to the Iranian oppositionists:

will you hold your protest rally on 14. February if the authorities do not permit it?

Egyptian people did not ask for permission before their 25. January protest.
In Response

by: T.J.
February 10, 2011 20:45
I can't speak for the opposition in Iran since I'm not there, but the plan is: yes, they will do it. That was the whole intent behind asking for permission. To show the world what hypocrite this regime is and at the same time send a shout out to the people to come out and protest. Will it happen? We don't know. Things are a little different in Iran than in Egypt. The protests happened last year and since then the regime has had time to mobilize its anti riot forces and strengthen its suppression tactics. The Iranian people, unlike the Egyptians, don't have the element of surprise on their side and the regime is like a wounded snake that will attack them with everything it's got. Only Monday will tell what will happen, and only the lengths people are willing to go to in the face of brutality and violence will determine the fate of that day.

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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Seen anything in the Iranian blogosphere that you think Persian Letters should cover? If so, contact Golnaz Esfandiari at esfandiarig@rferl.org