Tag Archives: ali khameni

Daily View 2×2: 19 July 2009

Welcome to the Sunday outing for The Voice’s near-daily Daily View series. As it’s a Sunday, today it comes with a special epic mustache bonanza. Not just any old mustaches you understand.

2 Big Stories

Iran: public criticism of senior figures is becoming the norm

Former President – and opponent of current President – Ali Akbar Rafsanjani has been speaking out. As the BBC reports:

By calling for an open debate about the election result, Mr Rafsanjani was almost openly challenging the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Four weeks ago, from the same pulpit, Mr Khamenei called for an end to discussion about an election result which he declared had been blessed by God.
Former President Rafsanjani played his trump card, by referring to his friendship with the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini.
He quoted Ayatollah Khomeini in ways that appeared to support the opposition’s right to demonstrate.
Mr Rafsanjani even called for protesters who have been arrested to be released from prison.

First World War veteran Henry Allingham dies

As the Guardian puts it:

Born in 1896 to an ironmonger’s wife in a corner of north-east London, the veteran, whose life spanned three centuries and six monarchs, was 67 when John F Kennedy was assassinated and 73 when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon…

He remembered spending a night in a shellhole in Flanders. “It stank,” he said. “So did I when I fell into it. Arms and legs, dead rats, dead everything. Rotten flesh. Human guts. I couldn’t get a bath for three or four months afterwards.”

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

  • Nich Starling continues to be the must-read blog for coverage of what’s happening on the ground in the Norwich North by-election. This time he’s got the tale of the Conservative campaign’s highly targeted approach to blogger outreach.
  • Readers of my blog will know of my views about the lack of media interest in Mark Cavendish’s sporting triumphs. (Equalling the British lifetime record for Tour de Franch stage wins, and still only being 24, wasn’t enough to get him into the top 95 stories on Sky News.) If he was getting the sort of coverage his successes deserve, yesterday’s controversial disqualification would be all over the mainstream media. Instead, head over to Stephen’s Linlithgow Journal for the Mark Cavendish disqualification story.

Sunday Bonus

Mustaches of the epic variety:

Posted in Daily View | Also tagged , , , and | 1 Comment

Iran: what is unfolding?

The events that have begun to unfold in Iran over the past week are, as Western media continues to point out, seismic.

Undoubtedly this is a story which will, regardless of whether the protests succeed, have huge ramifications for the politics of the Middle East. I want to do three things – first, put a little perspective on the magnitude of the events, second, draw your attention to some of the best stuff from the vast amount of coverage, and then make a more general point about coverage of this event.

Much has been made of the fact that 60% of the population in under 30, and therefore wasn’t even born at the time of the 1979 Revolution. This is a significant fact, because it is the young, as one might expect, who are forming the backbone of the push for change inside Iran. They were the constituency that Mir-Hossein Mousavi most managed to excite, along with his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, who is hugely popular among Iranian women too.

That said, the protests are increasingly drawing people from all sectors of society – from the garbage men to the doctors and nurses, all kinds of groups have turned out to protest in their own way. Importantly, there is a sizeable and growing section of the Islamic Republic’s establishment which believes the vote-rigging, antics of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and even some of the public pronouncements of the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, are not in the spirit of the 1979 Revolution, and not sustainable as approach to governance.

Today is the fifth consecutive day of massive protests in Tehran, with the figures reportedly surpassing Monday’s high, and now reaching around a million. Consider this: the Iraq war protests in the UK drew a million, but they were publicised in advance, highly accessible and totally unrestricted and so forth. These protests are having to be spread by word of mouth, often with just a day’s notice, and all while the government is:

  1. Threatening people who attend in a variety of ways (cold calling individuals to tell them they were spotted at a protest and are going to be arrested, threatening the death penalty for protesting)
  2. Spreading misinformation that the protests have been cancelled
  3. Not allowing the rallies to be publicised on the entirely state-controlled television, or in the papers, or via social networking sites (Iranian twitter and Facebook traffic is down 90%, with the rest having to use secret proxy servers)
  4. Keeping down the SMS service, and limiting domestic phone calls in parts of the country
  5. Organising its own rallies to intimidate the protestors

Giving free reign to the extreme, paramilitary, Revolutionary Guard-affiliated, armed organisation known as the Basij to terrorise protestors.

Many are pointing out that a lot of the tactics used by the protestors (calling pro-Mousavi slogans from their windows at night, organising ‘mourning’ rallies like the one held on today were also signature ones of the 1979 Revolution, and that one of the key stages in the 1979 events – when the police refused to attack protestors and started joining them – is starting to happen now. Nevertheless, we’re far from a revolution at the moment. For one thing, those leading the protests are largely drawn from the old guard of 1979, and so want the Islamic Republic merely to reform itself and become more democratic, rather than the whole thing being brought down and replaced. Given the fact that revolutions tend to get hijacked by the more hardline elements anyway (1979, but also most revolutions going back to the French one of 1789, shows that), it’s probably not a bad thing that if these protests succeed, we’ll see a reasonable degree of reform rather than a wholly new system.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 18 Comments
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