frandroid: A faroher, emblem of the Zoroastrian religion (faroher)
So we ended up going to the Toronto protest in solidarity with the Iranian protesters on Sunday. The protest was at Queen's Park from 2pm to 4pm. We ended up there around 3pm. The front lawn of the provincial parliament building was fairly occupied, I would say that there were a few thousand people. At that point, most of the speeches were either in Farsi, or badly amplified anyway, so I couldn't understand much. From time to time, there would be some people chanting "Marg bar dictator" (Down with the dictator), and "Natarsid! Natarsid! Mah hameh bah ham hastim!” (Don't be afraid, don't be afraid, We are all together!), although mostly the former. There was also a lame "Iran, Iran, Iran" cheer going on. Can't people be more original than this? Finally, very tellingly, not once did I hear Allaho Akbar.  It's good enough for the rooftops of Tehran, but Torontonian Persians seem to have better slogans than them!

You could see a fairly good contingent of socialists/communists, with signs that were more vitriolic, "Down with the Islamic Republic of Iran". One interesting thing is that even though there were tons of Iranian flags, the only version you could see was the monarchist or pre-revolutionary flag, with the lion in the centre, as opposed to the Islamic Republic's flag, with the Farsi text along the coloured borders and the swords in the centre. A lot of people had gotten t-shirts pressed or made their own t-shirts with various slogans along the lines of "Where is my vote?"

Eventually the speakers were done but many protesters decided to stay. The communists decided to do some sloganeering of their own, in complete rejection of the Islamic republic but not touting any program of their own (Other than on some flags, which said Freedom, Equality, Socialism). I accompanied them for a bit with their "Marg bar joomheira islami", "down with the terrorist state", etc. not really convinced but for the sake of yelling something, anyway. A larger part of the protest had moved further south, away from the communists, but they were also saying "Down with the islamic republic".

I thought later on that people's slogans should really have been about the elections and asking for democracy. That is the basis of what's missing in Iran. Maybe many Iranians do want to live in an Islamic republic after all? Maybe (hopefully!) not forced veiling and stoning of adulterous women, but still living under a version of Islam's moral code? Moussavi's extremely reformist statement did come from a position of trying to coopt/split security forces, and of course he is a former ultimate insider, having been the Prime Minister under Khomeini as Supreme Leader and Khamenei as President. But it also made me think that the first priority should be to have a democratic process, both at the level where you elect free parliamentarians (not supervised by an unelected veto-er) and have a free press, but also at the level of popular organization. Everything else flows from there.

The Danger of Hijacked Rallies
State-run TV in Iran is showing demonstrations in other countries such as the US, however with some serious editing. They are not broadcasting the majority of people standing and shouting in solidarity with people in Iran. Rather, they show images of demonstrators who shout, “Death to the Islamic Republic,”
In Paris on June 20, the National Council of Resistance of Iran helped bus in several thousands from all across Europe to hold a rally where the leader of NCRI, Maryam Rajavi spoke. Busing in people from out of town. sound familiar? Just today, June 21, in Washington DC, a rally organized by monarchists – though attended by many non-monarchists – featured Reza Pahlavi, the son of deposed Shah. Many sat down when he arrived, while others moved to the periphery obviously uncomfortable with his presence. Like a celebrity, he spoke for five minutes about democracy in Iran interrupted by cries of “We love you” and was ushered away. “I sensed he was being very opportunistic,” remarked an onlooker.

If one truly aims to help the people in Iran, then one should follow the people lead and not try to hijack their movement by imposing one’s own agenda. Demonstrations outside of Iran should be filled with unity, peace, and reflection for the brave Iranian people fighting for basic freedoms, and void of flags and slogans that undermine their cause with the burden of past political divisions.

After the protest, by sheer coincidence, we had to get to Finch station to get something else. That part of the city is home to many Iranian businesses, so we decided to go try Persian food. There were many people driving around, having decked their cars with many monarchist flags, honking and cheerfully yelling out loud. It felt more like a world cup match victory celebration than a worried protest in support of brave Iranians facing off against the Basij. Some of these seemed to have made it quite well in life, driving cars that I can't afford.


Now that Ayatollah Khamenei has become inexorably connected to Ahmadinejad’s power grab, many clerics are coming around to the idea that the current system needs to be changed. Among those who are now believed to be arrayed against Ayatollah Khamenei is Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the top Shi’a cleric in neighboring Iraq. Rafsanjani is known to have met with Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani’s representative in Iran, Javad Shahrestani.

A reformist website, Rooyeh, reported that Rafsanjani already had the support of nearly a majority of the Assembly of Experts, a body that constitutionally has the power to remove Ayatollah Khamenei. The report also indicated that Rafsanjani’s lobbying efforts were continuing to bring more clerics over to his side. Rafsanjani’s aim, the website added, is the establishment of a leadership council, comprising of three or more top religious leaders, to replace the institution of supreme leader. Shortly after it posted the report on Rafsanjani’s efforts to establish a new collective leadership, government officials pulled the plug on Rooyeh.

Meanwhile, the Al-Arabiya satellite television news channel reported that a "high-ranking" source in Qom confirmed that Rafsanjani has garnered enough support to remove Ayatollah Khamenei, but an announcement is being delayed amid differences on what or who should replace the supreme leader. Some top clerics reportedly want to maintain the post of supreme leader, albeit with someone other than Ayatollah Khamenei occupying the post, while others support the collective leadership approach.
frandroid: A faroher, emblem of the Zoroastrian religion (faroher)
*** ETA: Can someone explain to me how this is happening? The video underneath should be a dark video of Iranians yelling "Allaho Akbar" in the night, and come from Youtube. That's the video I see when I look at this entry on its entry page. But when I look at this same entry on my friends' page, what I see if a goddamn Christiane Amanpour video on vimeo!!!! How the hell??! The word Vimeo does not appear in my embed code. Also, earlier this morning, the entire contents of this entry had disappeared, I had to rebuild it from scratch. Is the Russian LJ mob trying to support the Revolutionary Guards?!?

2:18 PM ET -- "Allaho Akbar!" Such haunting video. Midway through, you'll hear a woman's voice, whose words were translated by emailer Lily:

The woman in this video is saying something that really touched me. She is saying that they can take our phones, our internet, all our communication away, but we are showing that by saying "allaho akbar" we can find each other. She ends it my saying that tonight they are crying out to god for help.

The NIAC relays word today from a friend in Iran: "Until it's clear what the fate of the new elections are, we will chant 'Allah Akbar' three times every night - once at 10:00, 11:00, and midnight."
Source: Nico Pitney on HuffPo.
frandroid: A faroher, emblem of the Zoroastrian religion (faroher)
[ profile] dariusk wrote, in comment to someone else's entry:
One of my relatives lives in a small village in Iran. After the results came in, things seemed fishy. His town was listed as 85% voting for Ahmadinejad. He called a few friends in the town asking who they voted for, everyone said Mousavi. They finally called a town meeting (this is a very small town, everyone was there). The asked people to volunteer who they voted for. Only one guy voted for Ahmadinejad.

It's a blue-collar area, a village in a rural area. My relative is a construction foreman. I don't think the class breakdown is as easy as "farmers like Ahmadinejad, well-heeled Terhanis like Mousavi."

[ profile] dariusk also posted this, on the same entry: Iran’s Rural Vote and Election Fraud by Eric Hooglund:
Take Bagh-e Iman, for example. It is a village of 850 households in the Zagros Mountains near the southwestern Iranian city of Shiraz. According to longtime, close friends who live there, the village is seething with moral outrage because at least two-thirds of all people over 18 years of age believe that the recent presidential election was stolen by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

When news spread on Saturday (June 13) morning that Ahmadinejad had won more than 60 percent of the vote cast the day before, the residents were in shock. The week before the vote had witnessed the most intense campaigning in the village’s history, and it became evident that support for Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s candidacy was overwhelming. Supporters of Ahmadinejad were even booed and mocked when they attempted rallies and had to endure scolding lectures from relatives at family gatherings. “No one would dare vote for that hypocrite,” insisted Mrs. Ehsani, an elected member of the village council.

The president was very unpopular in Bagh-e Iman and in most of the other villages around Shiraz, primarily because of his failure to deliver on the reforms he promised in his successful 2005 presidential campaign. He did have some supporters. Village elders confided, “10 to 15 percent of village men, mostly [those who were] Basijis [militia members] and those who worked for government organizations, along with their families.”
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)
Maybe I could have mentioned Tout le Monde en Parle in my Top 5... It's Québec's most-watched talk show with 2 million viewers, basically a third of the French-speaking population. It's an intelligent show with a wide, popular reach. Host Guy A. Lepage receives about half a dozen guests who are interviewed and spend about 4 hours on the set; afterwards, their conversations are compressed into a 2 hour show, with Guy A. doing the editing himself. He's not an ace interviewer; he can be witty, but most of his questions are prepared in advance and he doesn't really budge from his show plan. Guy A. used to be part of Rock et Belles Oreilles, the comedy troupe that broke every taboo, and accordingly the show has few limits, should the guests want to go there. Guy Fournier, Radio-Canada/CBC's president, learned the lesson at his expense when he praised the joys of defecation, and later on had to resign after the public outcry (louder in English Canada, I should say).

What's really interesting about this show is that the day's most important actors come to talk about their experiences. Since we're in an election campaign, this week André Boisclair visited the show, to be followed by Mario Dumont and Jean Charest in the next couple weeks. Boisclair really needed a boost, as he is seen as detached from the regular population, too refined and mealy-mouthed. The overwhelming response (both blog entry and in comments, en français) seems to be that he just saved his election campaign on the show tonight. His answers were quite to the point, he was speaking in every day language and didn't flash his idiotic Colgate smile too much. He also addressed the question of "reasonable accomodations" correctly, one of the hot topics of this election campaign. He didn't give any KO, but his few attacks on his opponents were to the point and will stick in people's minds for the week to come. If Boisclair can continue to behave like he did on that show tonight, the PQ might be back in the race, or at least it can stop the bleeding to the ADQ.

The results of the Québec election will bear a serious weight on the federal scene. Harper is praying that the PQ doesn't win, since in a follow-up federal elections, people would be more inclined to vote for the Liberals, the known separatist-fighters. A Québec Liberal re-election, on the other hand, would cement the Harper-Charest relationship. A Charest victory would boost Harper's claim that federalism works for Québec. But in order to give Charest a hand, Harper will release the federal budget one week before the provincial election. Will Harper spend billions of dollars in Québec? A proposal to re-engineer the perequation formula was leaked to the press in January: resources revenues were included at 50%, with Québec being the only winner of the new formula, and Alberta losing some money. Will Harper push this forward? If so, will people in Québec just take the money and run, or recognize the attempt at buying them off and vote accordingly?

The timing is set so that the budget can have its impact on the provincial election, but before it gets voted on in the House of Commons, allowing for some backtracking or simply the defeat of the Harper government. It's going to leave a rather short time for people to react, especially since budgets are such large documents. First impressions and early analysis of the federal budget could have a certain impact on the election... Anyway, we'll see what happens.


frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)

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