[TehranBureau] Faith No More

7 July 2009

[TEHRAN BUREAU] There is too much blood. Too much blood on the streets, too much blood on the news, on Facebook, in emails. There is blood everywhere.

My friend, a 26-year-old student, was on the streets last week. She’s now home with a broken arm and a broken leg. And the only reason she’s home and not at the morgue is because she had a deodorant spray in her bag.

“I saw hell right before my eyes last week,” she told me. “You can never, ever imagine the sight of a huge man beating you to death.”

Fighting on the streets is now useless, as the military might behind those who orchestrated this charade is just too strong, and their mercy non-existent. They will not hesitate to kill more people, to arrest more dissidents, to take out the eyes and break the backs of more young people.

But despite all this, the claims of the mainstream media are once again irrelevant. This “regime” is not “counting its last days,” nor is it going to evaporate. Ahmadinejad will be the president. Ayatollah Khamenei will be the Supreme Leader. Everything will return to business as usual in Islamic — notice the absence of “republic” — Iran.

June 19, 2009 will be the anniversary of this newly established state.

Why the June 19th, and not the 12th? It will not be the day of fraud we will always remember, but the day the supreme leader of the country stood up on the most sacred platform of the Islamic state — Friday Prayers — and cemented that fraud; approved of it; and sentenced us protesters to death and silence.

I am 25-years-old, and until that Friday, I always believed the man we call the “Supreme Leader” knew what he was doing. He gave a preposterous speech after the chain murders nearly a decade ago calling the victims “insignificant folks.” I took it in and thought he had to do it so as not to widen suspicion of the regime’s involvement. He gave a terrible speech after the attacks on students 11 years ago and though I couldn’t contain my anger, I kept quiet. He silenced the parliament members who wrote a historic bill on print media. And I only scowled. He silenced them again during the widespread fraud that took place during the seventh parliamentary elections, and I shut my mouth. I may have had VERY STRONG reservations about the operations he was running, but I thought that in the end, he was on the side of his people. But no more.

A generation of young people, those who were born after the revolution, who remember no Shah or Mossadeq, have been severely damaged both mentally and some physically by recent events. And we are not only the Westernized students living abroad, or the residents of North Tehran. The Islamic state will continue to be backed by popular support in the face of a foreign adversary, but inside, it will never feel the same again.

Sounds like a simple enough conclusion, but we are angry and petrified. For those of us who have gone through this metamorphosis, it feels like degradation. Despite all its shortcomings, we always believed that this system had our best interests at heart. Not having that to hold on to any longer is quite a frightening thing.

So the question is: Where do we go? And how do we channel this ANGER?

Mousavi himself is pondering these issues, and said in a recent gathering with university professors:

“[The most dangerous thing right now] is a feeling of hopelessness that may prevail over some, especially the younger generation. We need to do our best to keep that from happening. Our entire history cannot be summed up by these four years, and our entire people are not defined by one government alone.”

“This movement will not have one leader. Mr. Karoubi and I, along with Mr. Rezaie and a large group of intellectuals and activists, we are going to get together and talk this out. But this movement cannot be defined by one person; it is only representative of a struggle within the people, and it must stay and be guided by them.”

But we have no power. We can’t fight on the streets. We can’t hold the rights to a newspaper. We shouldn’t fight outside our own borders. We must be wary of all internal and external parties who can misuse our anger to their own advantage.

Times indeed seem very grim.

Already, less than a month into these demonstrations, many of my friends are tired and weak. They just want their normal life back. I completely sympathize.

But this is just the beginning. This is not the time to be tired or depressed or paralyzed.

No matter how much you abhor the acts of a mass of young people 30 years ago, their resilience and strength was admirable. They withstood years of persecution and brutal confrontations. We must both learn from them, and outsmart them because they already know all the rules.

Adding to our quandary is that we have no real leader. Our leaders have always either come from the privileged classes (such as Mossadegh) or were accidental. Mousavi is an accidental leader, as was Khatami before him. There is no handbook. This will be a movement in the making and we will write the rules as we go. We will face harsh confrontations, but we must go on knowing the alternative is too grave to bear.

One thing we know for certain: This isn’t a fight that will end tomorrow or next month. It is not a fight that any group or party can fight alone. The path is uncertain, the road ahead quite bleak. But my generation, born on the sidelines only to watch and obey, has now been given the opportunity to write its own history, to tell our own story. And to the best of our capability, we will.

It shall be a most glorious story, and it has just begun.

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