Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Really classy dudes."

Jason Rezaian, a journalist who recently left Iran, has a nice on-the-ground piece in Slate.

"I had watched public sentiment go from one of apathy a few weeks before the election to the point at which many people felt they had been robbed. In Iran, public opinion flows in waves. The sea seemed tranquil for the supreme leader and the president in the run-up to the election, but after June 12 a tsunami of resentment and frustration came crashing down on top of them, and they've been bailing water ever since. I don't even think they realize how ridiculous their public reactions to the current turmoil look. . . .

"When I got to Imam Khomeini airport, it was crawling with government security forces. They're never hard to spot: dark suits, blue shirts, cropped beards, big ruby or turquoise pinky rings, trying conspicuously to be inconspicuous. Really classy dudes.

"People preparing to depart huddled around a lone TV monitor to watch a report about the terrorism being inflicted on the people of Tehran by the protesters. It showed a member of the Basij being beaten with his own baton. It was meant to induce sympathy for the militiamen. People only smiled. These punks, who have long been a face of Iran to many outside the country, were finally getting some comeuppance.

"Over the years, I've read several authors describing Iranian society as a place where people live as if they were free—doing all the things that are banned in public behind closed doors, accepting the rules of the Islamic republic as a series of annoyances to be worked around. Over the last few weeks, those doors blew open, and now it feels like the regime is the one acting as if it still has a handle on things. . . ."

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