Long before the time of Twitter, Facebook and e-mail news of solidarity actions would reach those struggling inside Iran. Even in the most desperate of situations hearing about such an event gives hope. My dad recalls being in jail in the time of the Shah and hearing about a demonstration in Sweden in support of Iranian political prisoners and how good the knowledge that they are not forgotten made him feel.
However, in the past few days I’ve also been thinking about actions that direct the powers that be in Iran, rather than just showing support. A little philosophy I would like to call: Kicking Them Where It Hurts.
Of course, it’s tricky to find the emotion spot in a tyrannical government that doesn’t shy away from shooting and raping its own citizens. But there’s a bit more to the story. What sets the Iranian regime apart from other tyrannies is the legitimacy it receives as champion of the faith from being the only theocracy in the world. It needs the support of the religious establishment as well as the approval of its religious citizens. And though we would like to wish them away, there is still a huge population of devout followers of the regime who A) want the regime to safeguard the Islamic character of the state and the country, even at the cost of liberties and human lives and B) fear that the disappearance of the Islamic Republic will result in a backlash against Muslims and Islam in general.
In light of this, shouting anti-Islam profanities and burning Korans is not Kicking Them Where It Hurts, it’s Giving Them What They Want. Not that anyone actually needs to have burnt a Koran, the government media will claim that they’ve done so anyway to disgust and scare the true believers.
(For instance, take a look at this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IK7a0avFrPI , I asked the poster why there’s no video evidence, as people seem to succeed in videoing protests in Iran when their lives are in danger. Obviously my comment was deleted without a reply)
No, to Kick Them Where It Hurts is to challenge their religious credentials. It’s of course a process that started with religious heavyweights like dissident Ayatollahs Montazeri and Sana’i criticizing the government, and went full-throttle with legions of people clad in what the government considers the colour of Islam being shot and beaten up. Now we need Muslim spiritual leaders outside of Iran to join the choir of disapproval. There’s already talk of Lebanese and Iraqi Ayatollah’s voicing their concern with the Iranian government’s actions after the election (I'll post the sources when I find them). But why not ask progressive neighbourhood mosques to also voice their protests? I'm sure we could find many in Europe and North-America.
In interesting article on even the Khomeini family showing its discontent with the regime: ( http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2010/01/can-the-khomeinis-challenge-khamenei.html )