New Momentum—but No Clear Goal—for Iran's Street Protests

Not a single fan showed up Aug. 7 for the opening match of Iran's avidly followed football season. After the government caught wind of plans by protesters to bring the street demonstrations into the 100,000-seat national stadium, authorities decided to have the two rival teams from Tehran and Isfahan play to an empty house rather than risk yet another embarrassing show of green and chants of "Death to the dictators."

In recent days, despite the regime's heavy-handed efforts to stifle the resistance, public demonstrations have become more decentralized and frequent as protesters become increasingly bold and defiant. This shift in mood — from despondency in late June after the Basij fired on protesters following the June 12 presidential election, to a renewed sense of optimism — signals that the vocal opposition movement will not be going away anytime soon. "It's the national duty of every single man and woman to go to the streets," said a university student protester in her mid-20s. "This is far from over."

According to interviews with a half-dozen protesters, their objective appears to have evolved beyond reclaiming the votes for Mir-Hossein Mousavi in the disputed election. The aim is now to attack the very legitimacy of the theocracy. The immediate triggers for street protests, however, vary and are often tied to significant dates; for instance, in the past week demonstrators marched to protest the inauguration of Pres... >>>

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