A Matter of National Pride

THEN …Twenty years ago, several thousand political prisoners were executed in Iran, after a few weeks hunger strikes were held in many Western capitals, only a few parliamentarians acknowledged the killings and most governments did not either know or care. I had just started using Internet emailing as a University researcher then and pretty sure www did not exist yet in 1988/89.

AND NOW the new generation has youtube, facebook and twitter.   World public opinion as well as world leaders get to know what’s happening and no-one can stop the flow of real live information.  Global village is not just about economics and trade, it is about US State Dept. asking Twitter.com to delay the maintenance of its servers to assist Iran’s youth in communications that can reduce casualties and save lives against the onslaught of thugs and special guards dressed grossly in uniforms misleadingly marked only in big English characters (not Farsi) as ‘POLICE’.  Now every mobile camera beams out the pictures of the innocent peaceful demonstrators shot in the streets of Tehran, the pictures that find their way to Internet and mass-media and into everyone’s PCs or living-rooms.

THEN … Over fifty years ago (1953), a populist government was overthrown by a coup backed by CIA & British intelligence.  Over 30 years ago (1979) people of Iran revolted against the Shah and the West and established an Islamic Republic. Twelve years ago the generation that blamed its parents for the revolution went to the Polls for change to say NO to the clerical leader and the Islamic establishment and instead voted a lame duck reformist president into Office. Islamic Republic as we knew it became a democracy, in reality a pluralist Islamic state, appended to theocracy.  Four years later a ‘new phenomenon’ manipulated the votes and occupied the Office of presidency while a large majority either voted against him or stayed at home blaming their older brothers and sisters for having believed in reform.  A populist hardliner and holocaust denier presented himself as a saviour of deprived Muslim masses, promised oil riches to the Iranian poor and nuclear pride to the nation.

AND NOW  An opportunity arose with a leader who was offering an alternative.  In the televised debate with the incumbent of the Office of Presidency, Mousavi stated:  “There are two ways of confronting the country’s problems.  One is through a management style based on adventurism, instability, play-acting, exaggerations, wrongdoing, being secretive, self-importance, superficiality and ignoring the law. The second way is based on realism, respect, openness, collective wisdom and avoiding extremism.”  In the next debate, Mousavi called Ahmadi-Nezhad a big lier.  The people, the youth and the women and not just middle-classes came to the streets in big numbers and under a Green Wave and held street festivals that mocked all the play-actings, all wrong-doings, that exposed all secretiveness and law-breaking. The establishment knew what was coming although did not expect its full scale.  So an amateurish and yet extremely dangerous vote-rigging … a home-grown coup by a panicked establishment against a reformed leader.  A whole nation in shock, its pride trodden-upon.

 NOW What we witness in Iran today could only be described as the onset of another historic and peaceful revolution.  What fires it is ‘jarihe-dar shodan-e ghorror-e meli’.  Unlike what the ‘Leader’ and ‘President’ purported, national pride was not a Nuclear matter. The nucleus of the matter was about who represents an old-age nation and culture in the eyes of the world opinion.  A large majority of Iranians at home and abroad felt ashamed whenever this guy opened his mouth in the past four years.  They could not and can not risk allowing Ahmadinezhad to run a full second-term just like George W Bush did.  That would now be extremely dangerous and almost impossible to stomach.

FUTURE … Whereas ‘national pride’ fires this new revolution, it is ‘national unity’ that can make or break it. The key to national unity is to stop the blame culture.  Stop blaming the generation that revolted in 1979. Stop blaming the generation that voted for reform in 1997. Do not blame those that voted or did not vote in 2005 or 2009!  Stop blaming the secular opposition abroad or the reformist Islamists at home.  For God’s sake NO for our own sake and for the sake of our children, let us cherish each other’s strengths and fill each others weaknesses.  The Iranian nation is greater than one or two reformist leaders and more than the sum of its many generations, social classes, ethnicities or political factions.  We have a history and culture to be proud of … and while we have endured much through decades and centuries … we can overcome and we shall ‘insha-allah’ overcome.  A people united will never be defeated.”

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