Iran protests met with beatings, tear gas as Green Movement adopts new methods
Iran protests by pro-democracy advocates on National Student Day were attacked by security forces on Monday. The country's Green Movement has found new ways of organizing and keeping its message alive.
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On Sunday night, protesters chanted allahu akbar (God is great!) from rooftops in Tehran, which had not been heard since the last significant street protests on Nov. 4.
Prof. Dabashi says the protesters' activities constitute not a revolution that will lead to a dramatic finale, but rather a persistent civil rights movement similar to that led by Martin Luther King Jr. in the US during the 1950s and 1960s.
"If in the US and Europe they are expecting any statue to fall, any wall to crumble, they will be disappointed. But if we think of this as the functional equivalent of the civil rights movement, we will have an infinitely more accurate conception of what is happening."
He also says there is a limit to the level of violence hard-liners can employ. "They are very strong. They are very entrenched," he says. "But precisely because they are not facing an armed uprising.... there is only a level to which they can degenerate, turning their arms against their own brothers and sisters."
Students from the Amir Kabir University put out an online statement calling for greater attendance: "We are asking all people to come to universities so we can have one voice to protest at the coup d'etat."
New organization techniques
At Sharif University, students marked the anniversary by staging a symbolic funeral for the three students who died in 1953, protesting against the visit of then-US Vice President Richard Nixon soon after a CIA-orchestrated coup toppled the popularly elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh.
While Monday's protests focused on students, they were the largest in months. Efforts by security forces to arrest student leaders did not appear to work — partly because of new organization techniques developed since June.
"Communication is all through [personal] networking — they have adjusted so that they do not make decisions as a single group," says Ali Akbar Mousavi-Khoeini, a former prominent member of Iran's strongest student organization who moved to the US earlier this year.
"They have changed to do networking activities, so that decisionmaking is not longer taking place at a top level," says Mousavi-Khoeini. "The decisionmaking process has changed to avoid having to meet and vote."
Conservaties decry 'political obstinacy'
"Repression is not at all the solution, neither today nor tomorrow," said Karroubi, whose charges of rape and abuse in prisons have shaken Iran's Islamic system of government. "The solution to arrive at is tolerance and acceptance of criticism. We need to restore trust between the authorities and the people," he said, according to Agence France-Presse.
Conservative members of parliament called on opposition leaders to drop "behavior that smells of political obstinacy," according to a report on the official news agency IRNA. They had "ample proof the reformists wanted to substitute the Islamic regime with a secular democracy."
Television news reports on state-run TV on Monday portrayed past images of unrest and stated that those trying to detract from the anti-US nature of National Students Day were "enemies."