Underground band in Iran. This video was just released.
Pretty cool. LOL. Filmed at 3:57 am. A form of rebellion. Persian style.
In 2012, American professional snowboarders will travel to Iran to snowboard with a group of Iranians.
On the surface, the recent turmoil in Teheran looks like a case of the clerical elite, led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, slapping down an independent minded President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, though the battle is couched in vocabulary that does more to obscure than to reveal: accusations of “sorcery” and “witchcraft” get equal billing with charges of corruption and violations of the constitution. But if the language can at times seem odd, the players and the stakes are hardy abstruse.
There is, indeed, a struggle between Ahmadinejad and the clerics around Khamenei, and while it may play out in arguments over obscure religious issues—one critic of the President accused him of recruiting an army of genies—at its heart the fight is over political and economic power: who wields it and to what purpose? Some of the players, like the President and the Supreme Leader, perform in the spotlight. Others, like the powerful Revolutionary Guard and an increasingly restive population hammered by economic difficulties, maneuver in the wings.
residential confidant and advisor Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, currently under fire and accused of “deviancy,” once remarked, “the era of sovereignty of religion is over,” and that “An Islamic government is not capable of running a vast and populous country like Iran.” Mashaei, a former intelligence officer in the Revolutionary Guard, has a strong nationalist streak in him—“Iran first” as opposed to “Islam first””—and word is that Ahmadinejad was maneuvering to pass on the presidency to him or another non-cleric in 2013, thus marginalizing the religious establishment.
The clerics are also suspicious that the President’s prediction that the “hidden Iman,” who disappeared in the ninth century AD, would soon emerge was actually an effort to sideline them and shift power to Ahmadinejad’s clique of ultra-nationalist veterans from the 1980-88 war with Iraq.
Certainly removing a mullah from control of the Oil Ministry would have amounted to a public slap-down of a cleric at a time of unprecedented tension between the President and the clerical establishment. While Ahmadinejad was eventually forced to give back the ministry, he ended up appointing an ally, Mohammad Aliabadi, the former head of Iran’s Olympic Committee….
The sanctions have taken a bite, but the main cause of economic turmoil are the policies of the Ahmadinejad government, which has systematically cut up to $100 billion in yearly subsidies for everything from gasoline, food, and water, to education and electricity. Many Iranians see half their paychecks go to pay utility and gas bills.
Coupled with the austerity drive has been the brutal suppression of the trade union movement and the shift from a stabilized workforce to temporary, contract labor. The percentage of workers with benefits has gone from 70 percent of the workforce to 30 percent over the past 15 years. The law provides for unemployment benefits, but only for permanent employees.
While suppression is a major reason for the lack of widespread strike activity, the 14.5 percent unemployment rate also plays a role. Apparently, according to one eye witness “last year was the worst year for the working class since World War II.”
So far, the government has managed to drive a wedge between the more affluent and middle class Green opposition and the urban and rural poor. But if the economy worsens and living standards continue to plummet, that wedge may give way, as it did in 2009 when the urban working class made common cause with Teheran’s middle class.
It is important to remember that Iran is the only country in the Middle East that changed its ruling class through mass demonstrations. It may end up that Egypt and Tunisia will do so as well, but so far both countries have simply deposed their rulers.
Iran’s government has enormous repressive powers at its fingertips, from the million-member Basij militia to the powerful Revolutionary Guard and the secret police. But its centers of power are hardly united, and it harbors a large population with a memory of what it accomplished in 1979 by taking to the streets.
You can read the entire article at The Berkeley Daily Planet.
The Ways is an underground rock band in Iran. Enjoy.
It’s interesting to see the difference in how the Iranian authorities deal with their own female population by beating them up, torturing and raping them when they claim that they haven’t followed the Islamic regulations. But then the president of the country goes outside of Iran and suddenly talking and laughing with unveiled (“un-Islamic”) women is quite okay.
Outside of Iran:
June 12 marks the two year anniversary of the Iranian disputed elections. United4Iran and Move4Iran coordinated a flash mob in a Paris metro station to draw attention to the ongoing human rights abuses Iran’s citizens continue to face.
Scott Lucas in Enduring America reports on a few funny (in a sad sort of way) pieces of news coming out of Iran.
* The Friday Prayer leader of Mashhad in Iran has said that a woman who wears her headscarf back is “more dangerous than any insect.” Apparently, is you’re a woman on a bike you should be careful because you can “shatter a boy’s faith.” LOL.
* The Deputy Minister of Interior, reports that exorcists and sorcerers will be investigated in 10 provinces. Any one doubt now that Iran lives in the Middle Ages?
* The former Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance has stated that satellite dishes are carrying the secession and sedition into the homes of the Iranians, spoiling the children. He has linked the problem to the Internet. This is a video showing authorities collecting satellite dishes. They do that every once in a while and then people go put them back up again.
* And finally a dangerous painting. One of the largest wall paintings in Iran that depicted the historical epic Shahnameh, has been erased in Mashhad. It was created by a group of artists and cost $45,000. There is an ongoing tension inside Iran over the celebration of Persian culture that doesn’t go with the Islamic views of the government. This is the before and after photographs of the mural: