Out of the mouths of babes in tee-shirtsAhmadinejad is President tee-shirt

War is peace

Freedom is slavery

Ignorance is strength

Ahmadinejad is President

(Tee-shirt motto, here.)

Crackpot theocratics

It is sometimes the personal views of ordinary citizens from the streets that convey most. Hassan, a 26 year old Iranian, speaks to a correspondent in Dubai here.

He proceeded to tell me about the ways in which the regime has lost its grasp on authority and reality. Examples included the state-run television, and the bizarre way in which it had been reporting the exact opposite of what was actually happening … [It has been] airing quizzes that required answers to be sent via text message … when text messaging services were completely disabled. Each time miraculously an answer with a name and neighbourhood attached to it would arrive, people were left wondering, “How stupid do they think we are?” He also talked about the regime’s general silence. In a land ruled by an ideology that requires constant reinforcement, hardly anyone in power was saying anything. The Basij militiamen, so long an accepted arm of the law, were now being looked at as little more than hired bullies, to be feared only for ability to commit [violence]. In beating women, some of them elderly, they had lost what little respect they once had.

I remember a similar change in perception leading to a change in the meaning of words in Eastern Europe towards the end of the Soviet era. A “Communist” was a shabby man in a raincoat standing on a street corner. Very specific.

Is everything under control?

The thing about the protests that’s really hard for the regime to take is that they are spontaneous. Anything is more acceptable than that. Hence all the urgent self-delusion invested in trying to prove they are orchestrated by foreign media. Believe me, nothing could have been harder than trying to alert the media in this country (UK) to the unrest after June 12th. Green fingersI left messages on answerphones (Economist, Guardian foreign desk), I spoke live with journalists ─ nothing. They could not have been less interested. That’s why I started to publish Iran developments on this blog, previously the harmless preserve of poetry, literary criticism and theological comment visited by friends, relatives and a few space invaders. The traffic shot up after I wrote about the death of Neda!

The rising wave

The Economist today (7 August 2009) has a full analysis of the Iranian situation based on the premise that the unrest continues. Iran’s leaders are ‘weakened’.

And Mr Ahmadinejad’s regime, now fully exposed in its ugliness, can expect little mercy from the world at large.

Readers of this blog will be delighted to see my points taken up within the month. Usually the lead time is about four years.

The Pastoran President

These analyses always assume a tightening of power by the Ahmadinejad clique, as he discards his former supporters who live in Qom and wear turbans. Stay out of politics, ye mullahs, the message goes, and leave it to us ─ the soldiers and politicians. If this indeed happens, and the forces of internal security decide the Rat is not too ridiculous to remain as their front man, then Iran will have ceased to be a republic – the Islamic Republic of Iran ─ and will have become the Islamic dictatorship of Iran.

This is perfectly possible – even likely. But guns, teargas and bullets are no use, really, if you have been discredited.

The regime of death

What has this regime achieved? What has it built? or written? or filmed? what trophies won? what landmarks of modern civilisation established? Only death. It has displayed the degraded criminal mind, given itself fake qualifications, constructed railway lines that buckle and twist (see photo), brought worldwide disgrace upon Islam. Teenage girls are raped in prison as a religious duty before being executed, so that they do not automatically go to Paradise – that is the Islam that has left us all aghast. Islam now stinks in the nostrils of the world.Shiraz to Tehran railway built by Rat

Iranians like to refer to the 1980-1988 war with Iraq as the ‘imposed war’, whatever that means. It was certainly imposed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, as Martin Amis reminds us:

In 1979 Saddam Hussein reached out a trembling hand of friendship to the new Iran, and was clearly hoping for the continuation of the detente he had established with the Shah. Iran responded by resuming support for the separatist Kurds (suspended since 1975) and for the Shi’a underground; there were assassination attempts on the [Iraqi] deputy premier and the minister of information, and the successful murder of at least 20 prominent officials in April 1980 alone. Khomeini, meanwhile, withdrew his ambassador from Baghdad; in September, Iran shelled the border cities of Khanaqin and Mandali. In The Iran-Iraq War, 1980-1988, Efraim Karsh lists in his chronology eight Iraqi offers of ceasefires … [Before long] 12-year-olds were attacking Iraqi machine gun emplacements on bicycles, and 750,000 Iranians filled the multi-acre cemeteries, and perhaps twice that number were left crippled in body or mind.

This was the real work of art, the sculpture of death, the dance of death, the melody of death, the macabre deployment of Shi’ite themes of “sacrifice, dispossession and mourning”. The firing squads, mass executions, the Hezbollah chest-slapping, the tears of blood, the reddened fountains of martyrdom, the grief-stricken shrieks of injustice, the morbid hysteria, the forced purchase of bullets by victims’ relatives, the spoonfuls of urine offered to protestors crowded overnight 25 to a cell built for solitary confinement.

Taraneh Mousavi, a  young woman from Tehran, no less innocent than Neda Agha-Sultan, was raped, sodomised and ultimately killed, according to Senator McCotter. The Senator gives more details:

She was arrested near Ghoba Mosque, where she was on her way to attend hairdressing college. After her arrest, she was beaten by her captors, taken to a hospital in a coma, and it was there that she died. Upon her death, her body was removed to the outskirts of Karaj Qasim where, to prevent an autopsy, it was burned.

Mirrors of the heartDervish

Perhaps it is time for members of this discredited regime to look into their hearts. Let them feel the knife of truth. As the national poet Jalāl ad-Dīn Rūmī (‘Mowlana’) reminds us, with a clarity of accent lost since the 13th century,

When your heart has become black and dark from wrongdoing,

understand that one should not become impudent and stubborn.

For otherwise, that very darkness will become an arrow

and, as punishment for your stubbornness, strike you.[1]

[1] Rumi, Masnavi, ‘The Mirror of the Heart,’ 2464-5; translated here.