Iran,  The Left

“Which side” indeed?

The anti-regime demonstrations that started Monday in Iran continued for another day.

According to The New York Times:

As the scale of Monday’s demonstrations became clearer, Tehran’s police chief announced that 204 people had been arrested in the capital, the semiofficial Mehr news agency reported. The clashes took place on campuses in cities across the country, as students and opposition members took advantage of National Student Day to vent their rage despite a lengthy and wide-ranging government effort to forestall them.
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Monday’s protests marked a striking escalation in direct attacks on the country’s theocratic foundation and not just on the June presidential elections, which the opposition has attacked as fraudulent.
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On Monday, protesters burned pictures of Ayatollah Khamenei, and even the father of the 1979 revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. They held up Iranian flags from which the “Allah” emblem, added after the revolution, had been removed.

The protests were timed to an official holiday commemorating the killing of three students by Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi’s forces in 1953. Students have held a central role in the insurrections of Iran’s modern history.

On Tuesday, the opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi — who was prevented from attending Monday’s demonstrations — had a tense standoff with angry security men who had surrounded his office, according to opposition Web sites.

As Mr. Moussavi was leaving his office in a car, dozens of men on motorbikes, some wearing masks, blocked his way and chanted angry slogans against him, the Gooya News Web site reported.

Against the advice of his security team, Mr. Moussavi got out of his car and angrily shouted at the men, “You are on a mission — do your job, threaten me, beat me, kill me.” Mr. Moussavi’s security detail then took him back inside the building.
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Mr. Moussavi has walked a fine line in recent months, struggling to maintain his role as an insider who supports Iran’s Islamic system but who is fiercely opposed to Mr. Ahmadinejad and his policies.

But in recent months, it has become unclear how much Mr. Moussavi speaks for the opposition, which includes many who appear to be taking a more radical approach and demanding an end to the theocracy. During Monday’s demonstrations, there were fewer people with clothing or banners in the trademark bright-green color of Mr. Moussavi’s presidential campaign. And there were more chants aimed directly at Ayatollah Khamenei — a taboo that has increasingly eroded since the election. In addition to the now common chants of “death to the dictator,” some protesters chanted, “Khamenei knows his time is up” on Monday.

If ever there was an occasion to ask leftists worldwide the hoary question “Which side are you on?” this is it. That it needs to be asked at all– that not just an authoritarian “leftist” like Chavez in Venezuela but a democratic leftist like Lula in Brazil is willing to warmly welcome the wretched Ahmadinejad– is a dismal sign of the political times.

And that goes for you too, Andy. It’s way too late for this sort of quietest crap. If you think the struggle against against Western “interference” in Iran is more important than the struggle of the Iranian people themselves for freedom, at least have the guts to say so.

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