The paramount question these days, six months into the making of the Green Movement, is will the Islamic republic fall? Is this yet another revolution in the making, like the one we saw in 1979? Or will the military apparatus of the Islamic republic crash through the streets of Tehran and other cities like a fully charged armadillo and turn Iran into a theocratic dictatorship, ruled by a military junta like Pakistan, clad in an ideological fanaticism borrowed and expanded from Mullah Omar and the Afghan Taliban?
For the last six months and since Day One of this uprising, lovingly code-named the Green Movement (Jonbesh-e Sabz), I have consistently called and continue to call it a civil-rights movement. This does not mean I am blind to its revolutionary potentials, violent dimensions, or destructive forces. It does not mean that the Islamic republic may not, or should not, fall. I keep calling it a civil-rights movement because I believe that the underlying social changes that have caused and continue to condition this movement are hidden behind a political smoke screen. As our attention is distracted by the politics of the moment, I have kept my ears to the ground listening to the subterranean sounds and tremors of an earth holding some 200 years of an anti-colonial modernity in it sinuous silences.
Beyond the pale and patience of politics, and the attention span of a Twitter phrase, I have called this a civil-rights movement because I see something in that polyclonal green that defies augury. That color green is a sign that signals and means many things to many people, and no one is entirely in charge to legislate or regulate or incarcerate exactly what. [continued…]
The funeral of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri on Dec. 21, and the Ashura demonstrations on Dec. 27, marked a turning point for Iran’s democratic movement. The demonstrations showed that even after a violent six-month crackdown on peaceful protesters, political figures, journalists, and human right advocates, the Green Movement has not been weakened, but that it has strengthened and expanded to many cities and towns around the country. This is already a significant victory for the Green Movement. The question is: where is the Green Movement going to go from here?
First off, let’s be realistic. Many Iranians would like to believe that the hardline regime is in its death throes. But such optimism must be tempered. The hardliners’ ability to maintain power through force has not been diminished and is likely to outlast the Islamic Republic’s crisis of legitimacy. The struggle for democracy in Iran is a Marathon, not a sprint. There is still a long way to go. [continued…]