Monday, December 7, 2009

Allahu Akbar! Marg bar dictato!

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'

'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.
Interesting times we live in.

For more scenes, go to Tehran Video.


  1. George Bush used to be the greatest self-defeating, dysfunctional propagandist in the Islamic (and non-Islamic) world. Now Ahmadinejad has taken his place!

  2. Ahmadinejad is little more than a puppet for the Mullahs, the real power behind the "throne." The bulk of Iran's population is made up of young people, under 35 I believe, and they want to be part of the world, not stuck in a society that is governed by cranky old fools who want to keep their citizens in the dark ages. I applaud the brave men and women of Iran for taking a stand.

  3. Ahmadinejad could definitely be compared to Bush as far as possibly winning flawed elections and not "coming clean".

    OTOH,Ahmadinejad has no involvement in invading/threatening other countries. Plus he opposes rather than supports terrorism (US in Iraq/Afghanistan,Israel in Palestine).

    What the US media refuses to understand is Iranians are a smart and independent (and young like Mike points out)people.They fought against the American-appointed dictator and they oppose the religious zealotry of the mullahs. In other words they want what is best for them,not the US.
    The enemy of my enemy is my friend doesn't apply here.They like much of our culture and would love trade and investment with us.That doesn't mean they want to be a US satellite or colony.Some of the protestors chant pro-US slogans.This is analogous to Vietnam war protestors chanting Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh-none of the US college kids really wanted to exchange their dorm rooms for rice paddies.

  4. Oso you are right on every point and Vigil this is a really good post. I read and watched it several times already. Thanks.

  5. Hopefully this resistance continues to gain traction and young people like Neda Soltan won't have died in vain.
    Kick ass post Vig.

  6. Maybe I'm old-fashiones, but I still consider Hamas and Hizbollah terrorist organizations. And, yes, as far as I know, Iran still supports those SOBs.

  7. Don't know how widespread this is, but the sentiments expressed by the Pakistani in the lead photo impressed me. If that sentiment is widely held in Islam, then things are not that helpless. Especially, maybe, in Pakistan!