Monday, June 15, 2009

Hope For Iran

The desire for democracy is Iran's best-kept secret

If one were to believe the tone of some of the coverage of the protests against Iranian President Mahmould Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election, one may think that a second Iranian revolution is underway.

Today hundreds of thousands of Iranians protested against what they insist was a corrupted election, one fixed so that Ahmadinejad could win.

Challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi promised to "pay any cost" today, even though he fully expects that his challenge to the results of the election will fail.

When compared to the number killed when Chinese troops crushed a student pro-democracy rally in Tiananmen Square, the single protester killed doesn't seem inconsequential. Many critics of the Iranian theocratic regime will still seize upon it as proof that the regime there is horribly repressive.

And it is.

But when critics of Ahmadinejad and his regime focus on events such as the killing of this protester, or on the censorship of music, or on beating of women's rights activists one can quickly overlook the true significance of these events.

It's incredibly significant that Iran has such a powerful pro-democracy movement that it can mobilize hundreds of thousands in opposition to what Mousavi rightly describes as the "selection" of Ahmadinejad as President. It's incredibly significant that there is a heavy metal scene in Iran for the government to ban. It's incredibly significant that Iran has a women's rights movement that is perceived as threatening enough that Iranian police would beat them.

In focusing on these images -- as deplorable as they are -- we overlook the signs of hope in Iran. And as dark as things may seem in Iran, those clouds have a democratic silver lining.

One way or the other, democracy is coming to Iran. The Iranian people's thirst for it may not be quenched by anything less.

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