Iran’s slow revolution

Six months after Iran’s disputed presidential election triggered widespread demonstrations, the country’s pro-democracy movement is as strong as ever, experts say.

As this week’s protests show, opponents of Iran’s regime have taken to using officially sanctioned demonstrations to turn out in large numbers and publicise their message.

But do not expect another revolution.

“This is a civil rights movement working through self-propelling acts of civil disobedience,” Hamid Dabashi, a professor of Iranian studies at Columbia University, says. “It will change the very political language of the region.”

Asef Bayat, a sociologist and Middle East expert, agrees. Speaking at a panel discussion last week, he argued that Iranian society is beginning to shed its revolutionary tendencies.   

“Iranians once saw liberation as simply overthrowing an unjust shah, without much thought as to what would come next,” he said. “Thirty years later, that definition has grown to include concepts of individual civil liberties. This has led to a far more mature civil society, that seeks change in increments, not explosive revolution.”

The so-called ‘Green Movement’ was formed after hundreds of thousands of supporters of Mir Hussein Mousavi, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s main rival in the presidential elections, took to the streets to protest the result of the poll.

They believed that Ahmadine…

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