“We will never give up” – opposition in Iran


Published in “Tagesspiegel” and (with very minor adaptations) “Die ZEIT” on October 15, 2009


The opposition in Iran presents itself unwaning. The open rebellion after the presidential election has turned into a tedious struggle throughout the entire society.

Kairo – Daily routine is back on Iran’s streets, but underneath the calm there is still simmering discontent. An observer speaks of “tense calm” in her e-mail from Tehran. And on the contrary: “It’s like we are at war”, says Iranian General Prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejaie.
The open rebellion after the presidential election has turned into a tedious struggle taking place throughout the entire society. However, the regime not yet dares to arrest the leaders of the opposition. “We will never give up”, former President Mohammad Khatami just recently declared during a speech in his hometown Yazd, harshly critizizing his controversial successor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. What is going on in Iran has nothing to do with a conflict between right- and left wings, between reformist and orthodox, said Khatami: “It’s rather that a narrow-minded, violent, paranoid and fundamentalist group is trying to pile out all who have a different opinion. These people must know that they will not be able to consolidate their power over the people by solely using brutal force.” This might work for a while, but not “on the long run”.

The regime, however, appears to remain unimpressed. The Revolutionary Guards and Basij militias as the uniformed guarantors of power will soon group under one single roof. On occasion of the recent privatization of the state-owned telecommunication branch, the Guards bought a majority of the shares, thus gaining unlimited access on all telephone- and internet data of the country.

However, every once in a while President Ahmadinejad is still directly exposed to the anger of the people. Thus, his appearance at the University of Tehran had to be called off because angry students on the campus chanted “Death to the dictator”. No wonder then, that the controversial head of state is currently seeking relief in the realms of foreign policy. “We want to have better relations with the West”, he announced during a television interview at best airtime. And the head of his office was allowed to publicly philosophize about a possible rapprochement between Iran and the United States.

The opposition, however, presents itself as vital as ever. “What about saying something for which the people will not laugh at you, for a change?”, reformist Mehdi Karroubi mockingly addressed Ahmadinejad during a meeting with the second opposition candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi last weekend. According to the newspaper “Sarmayeh”, both politicians asked the regime to give them “live airtime on state TV”. And Moussavi jeered: “If there is no fraud in the elections, then what are you afraid of? Why don’t we stage a TV show in which we open the ballot boxes in front of the running cameras? Then people could finally see how many boxes were stuffed with fake ballots with no serial numbers on them.”
By Martin Gehlen


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