The ferment in Iran is one of those things I should care more about, and so I am writing this post. That millions of young people are protesting a government/regime that has been central in their oppression is something to be admired. Over eight people have died in last Sunday’s protest, including the nephew of Iran’s Opposition Leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.
Since then, western leaders have been vocal in both their support for the protesters and their criticism of the government’s violent crackdown. In response, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has accused the United States and Israel of staging Sunday’s anti-government protests, insisting that the thousands protesting are a fraction of those who support the government.
The protesters have been up-in-arms since the June 2009 elections, when westerners predicted a defeat of President Ahmadinejad’s government that never came, due in part, to what many saw as voter fraud. Though Ahmadinejad’s regime leaves much, in terms of human rights, Justice and fairness, to be desired, it has been noted that the policies of Mir Hossein Mousavi are quite similar to those of Ahmadinejad’s.
Even so, it’s not exactly clear what is being protested.
Since 60 percent of the country’s population is under the age of thirty five, it’s not farfetched to call this a youth revolution. Since the Islamization of Iran in the 13th century and the subsequent establishment of the current political system in 1979, Iran has transformed, culturally, from its former glory as mighty Persia to a strict Islamic regime that barely resembles Persia, and has little care for peace and global integration (see its nuclear proliferation ambitions).
The protesting we see appears to be the manifest frustration and desire of Iranians. Like many young people, they want a country that isn’t so stifling, but one that fosters qualities like freedom and equality of the sexes. A country that is open to the future instead of one that isolates itself from the world.
From where I live in the west, I can only watch the uproar and naively hope these young protesters succeed.