Iran: The Tragedy & the Future


The least that could be said, in the sunny morn after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s emphatic reelection as president of Iran, was that festivities of the kind associated with a victory by two thirds of the vote were on hold, discarded in favor of a putsch-like lockdown. Baton-wielding riot police in thigh-length black leg guards swarmed from the shuttered Interior Ministry in the early hours of June 13. They went to work beating people. Voting had closed the previous night in Iran’s tenth presidential election of the revolutionary era. Within hours, the national news agency, IRNA, had announced a landslide first-round victory for Ahmadinejad. Tehran was changed, changed utterly, and there was no beauty to the terror born.

A festive city awash in revelers and agog at the apparent vibrancy of democratic debate in the thirty-year-old Islamic Republic had morphed overnight into a place of smoldering eyes, insidious fear, and rampaging state-licensed thugs. People looked dazed, as anyone would, so thrust into desolation from delight. All the preelectoral freedom and debates suddenly looked like cruel theater controlled by a perverse puppeteer. “It’s a coup, a coup d’état,” people whispered.

Outside the already upended campaign headquarters of Mir Hussein Moussavi—the opposition candidate whose campaign had blossomed late in great thickets of green banners and bandannas—whining phalanxes of police, two to a motorbike, swept up and down. To loiter was to be targeted. “Throw away your pen and notebook and come to our aid,” a sobbing woman shouted at me, before vanishing into the eddying crowd.

Read the article on the website of The New York Review of Books

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