In Iran, December 7th has a whole different meaning.
National Students' Day marks a violent 1953 protest against a visit by then Vice President Richard M. Nixon after a U.S.-backed coup d'etat that ousted the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and restored the absolute rule of the monarch Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. National Student Day has become and annual event during which University students commemorate three scholars killed by the Shah's during the anti-Nixon rally on this date in 1953.
Until 10 years ago, the annual protests were supported by the government. But more recently they have served as a rallying point for anti-government demonstrations, usually only on campus grounds.
Mir Hussein Mousavi, a former presidential candidate representing the opposition, said in a weekend Internet statement Iran's that security forces are waging a losing battle:
You are fighting shadows on the streets, but are losing your trenches one by one in the people's conscience ..... The problem of our people is not who the head of the government is or who is not. The problem is that this some are blustering their ego to the face pride of great nation.Today, December 7th, in Tehran:
In the demonstrations, traditional chants have been turned against the Islamic establishment. We are familiar with Allahu Akbar (God is great) and maybe with "Marg bar dictato" (Death to the dictator.) But now the same chant can be heard now, dedicated to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:
Ahmadi you traitor, may you be turned out of your country. You ruined our land... Death to you, death to you, death to you, death to you!Ahmadinejad's early dismissal of those who questioned his re-election as "dirt and dust" prompted an adaptation of a poem by the 13th-Century Persian philosopher Rumi:
You are the tumbleweed and dust... You are the enemy of the land.One chant - a new one - which attacks Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei personally, has the rhyme "Khamenei ghatele, Velayatesh batele" - ("Khamenei is a murderer, his leadership is invalid").
An orthodox cry of the Islamic revolution was: "Estaghlal, Azadi, Jomhuriye Eslami" (Independence, Freedom, Islamic Republic). This suggested an Islamic Republic could bring freedom from the state oppression of the Western-backed Shah's regime. In 1979, Ayatollah Khomenei said Iran needed to return to Islamic values and cleanse itself of what he termed "Westoxification". Today's protesters, largely young city-dwellers, have inverted the chant to "Estaghlal, Azadi, Jomhuriye Irani" (Independence, Freedom, Iranian Republic).
Vive la difference!
A chant heard for the first time on 4 November, distancing Iranians from Islam even further: "Nejade ma aryast-deen, az siasat jodas" (We are an Aryan race, religion and politics don't mix). Interesting, huh?
Ayatollah Khomenei's traditional day of support for Palestinians, Quds day, in September, has become expropriated by opposition demonstrators to complain that the regime cared more about others than its own people. They could be heard chanting "Na Gaza, na Lebnan, jaanam fadaaye Iran" (Not Gaza nor Lebanon, I give my life for Iran).
A student in Tehran, Siavash, told the BBC he thought the biggest test for the opposition demonstrators was coming soon. Ten days of traditional Shia mourning rituals, known as Muharram, begin in mid-December.
We will go out and chant 'Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein'Interesting times we live in.
'Ya Hossein' refers to the imam who was martyred in Karbala in 680 AD and 'Mir Hossein' is, of course, the opposition leader.
This way, we convert the religious chant into a political one.
For more scenes, go to Tehran Video.