TitleA young Tehrani looking back at the past year

The Green Movement in three episodes

30 Aug 2010

■ Shafagh Ashna
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Today is the 25th of Khordad. It is 10 minutes to 4, we are at our university and we have made our decision. We embrace each other, sing the old song ‘Kiss me for the last time’, take a mass photo and ride the metro ride with lots of stress. There are not many stops to Enghelab Square, where protests start at 4 o’clock. All of us just look at each other. No one speaks and faces look concerned. They warn us not to go. One of my friends called me some minutes ago and told me that Zahra Rahnavard has said: “We don’t want another mother to lose her child, so do not go.” Last night they attacked the dormitory of Tehran University and killed some students. Former president Khatami published a statement and asked people not to go. But we have made our decision: we have to go. We have to go and take back our votes. This is Enghelab station. We take each other’s hands and walk up the stairs. We believe that we are going to die! Riot police and plainclothes are standing at the entrance gate. When we get to Enghelab square, people are arriving in floods, sooner than we have arrived, and they are walking. It’s unbelievable; there are people as far as the eye can see. We raise our hands with the sign of Victory (V) and walk to the destination of Azadi Square, together with millions of people, and we feel that we are uncountable.


My poet friend murmurs a poem by Forough Farrokhzad: It always happens when you don’t expect it, We should send a condolence letter to the newspaper. He puffs on his cigarette, saying: ‘This chance is a missed one, just like the constitutional government, like Mossadegh’s period, like the 57 revolutionaries, like the reformists.’ He says: ‘We have no leader, no organization, no political party, no syndicate, no NGO.’
Another friend who has recently been released from jail says: ‘What do you think? Is this Swiss? Are we in Europe? We always have had everything incomplete. Why do you think so dreamily? Take things step by step. For awareness, we have to pay some expenses.’
One of my other friends who has the illusion of conspiracy says: ‘Boys, they are connected to the United States and England. They won’t move until they want them to do so. They charge them themselves and they discharge them themselves too.’
Another friend, who is more of a hypochondriac and pastes the posters of Mousavi, Karroubi, Mossadegh, Bazargan and the martyrs of the Green Momovement on his room’s wall, and who is always wearing a green bracelet says: ‘Guys, may they always be remembered, 25th of Khordad, 30th of Khordad, the memory of Neda, protest in Toupkhoone when all of us wore black clothes and had candles in our hands, Qods day, 13th Aban, 16th Azar, Ashoura,… Why does it end like this? Why are we so wretched again that they dare to put morality politce in the streets?’
My poet friends says: ‘Burning opportunities, burning opportunities… we had to settle this dispute on the 25th of Khordad. First the people came, then Mousavi followed them. What kind of a leader is he?’
A recently released friend says: ‘They suppress, don’t forget the strength of suppression, didn’t you see what they did to the elderly and the children, to men and women? Don’t you know about the situation of detentions?’
I was silent till now and say: ‘Give me a cigarette’, and I think about the prideful days of protests, the nights of ‘Allah-o-Akbar’, about those days when we thought the thousand-year-old despotism was breaking!


He said: ‘The bogeyman snatched the boob! (1) I am illiterate and belong to sixty years ago, but I don’t speak to my child like this. Ahmadinejad brought disgrace for us. We are the enemy of the entire world, our friends are some hungry African countries, he ruins the economy, all goods are rising in price; meat 15000 toman per kilo, gasoline 400 toman per litre, God help us after this legislated law of ‘Targeting Subsidies’.’ An old rice seller in our alley grumblingly moves his chair and makes gestures with his hands. He stares at me and continues: ‘Business is bad these days; I haven’t ‘even had even one customer since morning, what a bad situation it is…’
I say: ‘Father! Didn’t you vote for Ahmadinejad?’ He answers: ‘Me?! Never!’
I reply: ‘I myself saw that you put a poster of Ahmadinejad on your store’s wall last year.’
He mutters: ‘They told us that if Mousavi won the election, girls and boys would come to the streets naked! Immorality would increase, like when Khatami was the president.’
I ask him: ‘Is there now any difference? Did immorality decrease as you said? Did your class of living change?’
He answers: ‘It got worse.’
I say: ‘What are you scared of? Didn’t you have religion in the shah’s period? Everyone wore whatever he wanted to wear and did whatever he liked to do.’
He said: ‘You are right; all things were in their own place, religion in its own place and our pastime in its own place too. Now we have none of them.’

It seems that of the three episodes above, the last one is the most realistic one. During the first days of the Green Movement, we thought dreamily and forgot about the deep roots the Islamic Republic has in the beliefs of our people. Because of the permanent problems and pressures, we wanted to achieve our desires as soon as possible. But the reality was not like this. There was continuous suppression and strong censorship and regime propaganda. Being on Facebook was a crime itself; throwing a stone could mean the execution punishment for a young boy.

We have to think about the future and the days that we will feel again that we are countless

But being disappointed and feeling powerless to do anything is not logical. I face some people these days in the streets who say: ‘It’s finished’. These are people who talked about basic changes in the regime during the first days of the Green Movement and did dangerous things, but now they are disappointed. In my opinion, there is no reason for being disappointed, because the dissatisfaction of people doesn’t disappear. It just moves from the streets to their houses. There was a problem but the regime suppressed it instead of solving it. It is a sign itself that the dissatisfaction is spreading, and it will show itself at another time and in a bigger dimension. I think the old rice seller of our alley had a good point: ‘rising in price’ is the thing that all of people in Iran feel with their whole being.

He honestly said that the reason for voting for Ahmadinejad was that he was concerned about the morality, which is more vital to him than any other thing. In fact, this was the only reason that the old traditional social class, especially in villages and small towns, supported Ahmadinejad. They were concerned about the weakening of Islamic customs. But the interesting part is that Ahmadinejad himself doesn’t care about these things. His supporters were confused during the last election days because of this problem. It takes time until the rice seller in our alley understands that if everyone can live his life as he pleases, there won’t be any problem. It seems that the rice seller felt sorry about his vote.

Being in the streets is not so important now; you can hear the sound of the breath of Green Movement in the Internet halls. The thing that we need now is hope. We have to keep our hope, and think about the future and the days that we will feel again that we are countless.

(1) reference to a quote from a speech of Ahmadinejad, which you can read here.

Tehran Review
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