Outing Iran: Marg Bar

I wanted to make a few comments on the slogan of “death to Russia” from the Friday prayers:1. “Death to …” is not a correct translation for “Marg bar …” although it is a literal translation, the real meaning is closer to “down with …”; it is an expression of extreme dissatisfaction rather than the wishing of death. Remember “death to potatoes” from the campaign (as a sign of dissatisfaction with Ahmadinejad’s distribution of potatoes among likely voters)? My guess is that it originated with “Marg bar shah”, which at the time probably was literally meant; it was a particularly powerful and defiant slogan at the time and that memory has perpetuated this line of sloganeering.2. It is worthwhile to understand the importance of meter and rhyming in the Persian language. Put anything in metered poetry and its chances of affecting the Iranian soul triples. So not every slogan would work, and in this uprising people have been amazingly creative in coming up with poetic slogans that fit the occasion and are powerful and witty. “Marg bar …” is a simple formula which can be put to music depending on the number of syllables in what follows it. I can’t think of a simple way to replace it with another word which conveys the same meaning and provides such a resourceful musicality.3. Although you have already reported on it, I want to emphasize the significance of the incident Friday, in which pe… >>>

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