It is time to start wondering out loud whether Iran’s uprising could become one of those Berlin Wall moments.
This is not yet a counter-revolution. And the new “green movement” is a coalition of disparate factions — from former presidents to people who have never voted at all — who view the issues through vastly different prisms. Yet the pattern of public outpourings since the disputed election six months ago is setting historic precedents.
The opposition has proven it has the resolve and resilience to sustain its risky challenge, despite the regime’s ruthless use of force, mass arrests, show trials and reports of torture and rape in prison. In the escalating political showdown the opposition has the momentum.
Just as important, the emergence of people power is also setting a new precedent in the last bloc of countries ruled by authoritarian regimes. Thirty years ago, Iran’s revolution redefined politics throughout the Middle East by ending dynastic rule and introducing Islam as a modern political idiom. Iran’s uprising is doing it again — this time by taking to the streets to demand an end to dictatorship as well as calling for fundamental rights such as free speech, a free press and respect for the individual vote.
But the green movement is far more than simply sporadic eruptions. This is the most vibrant and imaginative civil disobedience campaign in the world.