Saturday, June 20, 2009

Updated - Mousavi Urges Revolution in Iran

Hundreds of thousands have been protesting in the streets of Iran's major cities for over a week now. Until now, people have been reluctant to call this the start of a "revolution." Let me be one of the first. Here's why: The protests began after what many worldwide consider to be a rigged presidential election on June 12. Incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed victory over challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi, but millions of Iranians question the honesty of the election results. A huge number of the ballots were cast on paper, yet only hours after the polling booths closed Ahmadinejad was officially declared the winner. The question was asked en masse, "How could the results have been known so quickly?" Today (June 20), a report from Reuters in Tehran says that "Opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi said the Islamic Republic must be purged of what he called lies and dishonesty, sending out a direct challenge to conservative rulers after a day of unrest across Tehran." Them's fightin' words, and earlier today a report from noted that Mousavi may be ready to die for his cause: He dramatically raised the stakes in the standoff with Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, after publishing a letter to the country's highest electoral authority in which he cited examples of electoral fraud to support his "undeniable right" to call for a re-run of the election. Mr Mousavi made his defiant call during a speech delivered in southwest Tehran, according to an ally, who telephoned a western news agency shortly afterwards to report: "Mousavi said he was ready for martyrdom and that he would continue his path." I'm not sure how this cannot be called the beginning of a revolution. The "leader" of the protesters publicly states that he's ready to give his life to the cause of fair elections, reform of the government, and grave defiance of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, known in Iran as the "Supreme Leader." (Khamenei and his council of fanatical mullahs are the real power in Iran, not any sitting president.) Meanwhile, Mousavi's supporters have been proving for eight days that they, too, are ready to die in the streets for principals of freedom. Because of a state clampdown on telecommunications and a general news blackout in Iran, it's hard to know exactly how many have died, but it seems certain that at least 12 19 have been killed by Iranian security forces. So, revolution in Iran seems imminent. A full week of protests, with violent reaction from police and other security forces, a leader who publicly says he's ready to die for the cause and urges his supporters to keep defying the authoritarian regime, even calling out "Death to Khamenei"... What else to call this but the beginning of a full-blown revolt? Meanwhile, after a week of noncommittal, weak-kneed comments about the situation in Iran, the American Supreme Leader Barack Obama finally said something forceful. He has warned Iran to cease what he called "violent and unjust" actions against the protesters (FoxNews). RELATED: Some very recent headlines about Iran... Real-time results for "#iranelection" - Twitter At least 19 dead in Iran unrest, hospital sources say - Mousavi ready to be 'martyr' - Arab News Mousavi is ready for martyrdom - Riot police clash with Iran protesters - Radio New Zealand Protesters cry: 'Death to Khamenei' - Independent (with timeline June 12 - 19) A great web site I found with Iran news - See Comments... Visit Our Online Store Chicago News Bench RSS Feed Hey! ChiNewsBench is on Twitter