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Iran Uprising Live-Blogging (Thursday June 25)

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I'm liveblogging the latest Iran election fallout. Email me with any news or thoughts. Send me instant messages at nico.pitney@gmail.com or njpitney on AIM. Scroll down for news related to the front-page headlines. Local Iran time is 8 1/2 hours ahead of Eastern time. You can support this post on Digg by clicking here.

11:59 PM ET -- Friday's updates are here.

8:28 PM ET -- Iran expected to dominate G8 summit. From an AP report:

Foreign ministers of Group of Eight countries sought to find a common position on Iran's violent crackdown on protesters as they opened a meeting in this northeastern Italian city on Thursday.

Italy, the host of the meeting, said it wanted to send a tough message, but Italian officials speaking in Trieste also stressed the need not to further isolate Iran. The EU commissioner for external relations condemned the use of excessive force, and called for dialogue among battling parties within Iran.

A question: obviously the U.S. and Britain have severe restrictions in their ability to take actions on Iran that don't end up backfiring. What can other nations do that will have a real impact? Feel free to pass along smart articles you've read, or your own thoughts. We'll discuss as we move forward.

7:54 PM ET -- "This young man befriended me..." So begins a terrifying experience described to CNN by a woman who had gone to Iran after the elections to help her friends but ended up being tracked and then ambushed by the Basij.

"This young man befriended me. I was trying to download CNN to find out -- this was the day after the ayatollah gave his prayer on Friday," May said.

Afterward, the man helped her hail a taxi outside the cafe to meet one of her friends for lunch, she said.

"About half an hour into that ride, the next thing I know, there are two motorbikes on either side of my taxi," she said. "He's on the back of one of them, and three big Basij guys are on the other, and they pull me over. I knew what was happening."

The Basij, Iran's feared volunteer paramilitary group, has cracked down on the thousands of protesters in the bloody aftermath of the Islamic republic's disputed presidential election.

"I was terrified, and I immediately started screaming, saying no, no, no," May said.

The young man climbed into the taxi and told her to go with him and the three other men.

The rest is here.

7:36 PM ET -- Electronic warfare versus the Islamic Republic. The latest by Eric Margolis. And for those just getting acquainted with the events in Iran, Robin Wright has a fantastic overview in Time magazine.

6:53 PM ET -- Warning: graphic video. What seems to be the first video actually depicting an Iranian being shot on camera by government officials has hit the internet. The shooting occurs while the person filming is quite far away, but the video then shows closer images of his body. The video is dated June 20. One can only imagine what an accurate count of the injured and dead demonstrators would look like at this point.


5:16 PM ET -- A trail of carnage. In this video posted today (date of taping unknown), a man shows the results of an alleged night raid by government forces, who damaged the cars outside his home, then invaded the house and vandalized or destroyed most everything, including the communications equipment on the roof.

A reader sends in this translated overview:

The man in the video explains that a group of "Arabic accented" riot police entered the building the night before, breaking glasses and doors and destroying the air-conditioning units on the roof top. They were probably after the people who chant slogans on the roof tops at night or wanted to destroy the satellite dishes (which are illegal). At his last sentence, he says that "we might need to get armed if this problem goes on like this..."

Another reader adds more detail:

He says that the doors were locked in the building, as it is a purely residential buidling, and were kicked in. He then states that they would have tried to break in the doors, and you see the baton marks on one of the doors later, but people stood infront of them. He says that one of the women was pregnant and very scared, and lastly, he states that they threw one of the AC units from the roof and it crashed on top of a car. He states that there was a woman and a child inside the car and they got out and started running.


5:05 PM ET -- Swedish PM cautions against Iran sanctions. "Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country is set to take over the EU presidency next week, cautioned on Thursday against European sanctions towards Iran, saying they could be counterproductive."

A reader notes that Sweden has relatively good relations with Iran, with hundreds of companies that do significant export business there.

4:57 PM ET -- Iranian ambassador tells CNN: CIA may have killed Neda.
It's worth noting, through the fog of this propaganda, that the doctor who aided Neda told the BBC in an interview posted below that, after the shooting, he saw passers-by seize "an armed Basij militia volunteer who appeared to admit shooting."

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we're anxious to hear your government's response to all of these developments which have been very dramatic over the past two weeks. A key question many people around the world are asking is, why did your security forces kill that 26 year-old beautiful student named Nada?

GHADIRI (through translator): This death of Ms. Nada is very suspicious. She was shot from behind. The location was where there was not much demonstration, there was no police presence and the gun that shot and killed her was a smuggled gun. It was not a government-issued gun. [...]

My question is that how is that this Nada was shot from behind and several cameras take that. And this is done in an area where there was no important demonstration... If the CIA wants to kill some people and attribute that to the elements of the government and then choosing a girl would be something good for them because it would have much higher impact. Therefore, we believe and we are looking into this to find who the elements were who did this. [...]

BLITZER: Do you really believe that, Mr. Ambassador? You're a distinguished diplomat representing Iran. This is a very serious accusation that you're making, that the CIA was responsible for killing this beautiful, young woman.

GHADIRI (through translator): I'm not saying that the CIA had done this. There are different groups. Could be intelligence services, could be CIA, could be the terrorists. However, these are the people who do these things. You could ask Mr. Andreotti, who was an Italian diplomat whether Gladitators were a secret group related to CIA or not. Now they of course they use better methods. Of course, you're not going to say that CIA is a sacred organization that hasn't done anything to other worlds.

BLITZER: Mr. Ambassador, why won't your government allow people to go mourn at a memorial service for Nada, as her family has requested?

GHADIRI (through translator): We have no problem with mournings. Naturally we don't want to provide an opportunity for the rioters to come in and make the situation worse.

4:49 PM ET -- Blogging in Iran. An Iranian-American sends over this cartoon:


4:34 PM ET -- Iran tries to pacify protesters... with a Lord of the Rings marathon.

In normal times, Iranian television usually treats its viewers to one or two Hollywood or European movie nights a week. But these are not normal times, so it's been two or three such movies a day. It's part of the push to keep people at home and off the streets, to keep us busy, to get us out of the regime's hair. The message is "Don't worry, be happy." Channel Two is putting on a Lord of the Rings marathon as part of the government's efforts to restore peace.

Lots of people, adults and kids, are watching in the room with me. On the screen, Gandalf the Grey returns to the Fellowship as Gandalf the White. He casts a blinding white light, his face hidden behind a halo. Someone blurts out, "Imam zaman e?!" (Is it the Imam?!) It is a reference, of course, to the white-bearded Ayatullah Khomeini, who is respectfully called Imam Khomeini. But "Imam" is at the same time a title of the Mahdi, a messianic figure that Muslims believe will come to save true believers from powerful evildoers at the time of the apocalypse. Isn't that our predicament?

A reader emails: "one of my most vivid memories of 79 was the many many american movies,
tv shows they started streaming. it was such a complete contrast to what was happening outside real time. unimaginable that the current regime is doing exactly what the shah did. what goes around comes around..."

3:25 PM ET -- Albright, Berger back Obama. After defending Barack Obama's Iran stance, President Clinton's former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger respond to this question from Bloomberg's Al Hunt:

HUNT: What the critics say is that we wouldn't have taken that attitude in South Africa in the 1980s, we wouldn't have taken - shouldn't have taken that attitude in Tiananmen in 1989, or in Hungary or in Czechoslovakia in the '50s.

ALBRIGHT: I think very different. And I think the point here is you have to understand the differences.

So for instance, I know a lot about Czechoslovakia and Poland. Those were very different kinds of bottom up revolutions against the Soviet Union. And frankly, there was a very big issue in Hungary. And this is something that people have to be careful of.

The administration in the 1950s kept saying to the Hungarian people, we will help you if you rise up. And then we didn't. And so there's a lot of blame that goes around. Czechoslovakia in 1968, same thing.

So first of all, they're very different. Those revolutions were very nationalistic. And just a different situation.

BERGER: Now the fact of the matter is what the President has said has been very tough. And he's escalated his rhetoric as the situation has escalated. In the early first days, it was not appropriate to prejudge how this thing would unfold. But his rhetoric over the past few days and his statements have been clear, have been strong, and have been appropriate.

3:15 PM ET -- What a difference a video makes. This 10-minute video just arrived in my inbox from (the very helpful) reader Jenny. It appears to be video from yesterday's events. And as you can see -- warning, there is footage of protesters beaten and anxious moments when people are trapped in between cars -- there was serious unrest yesterday.

After a day when many news outlets shifted away from their focus on Iran because of the scarcity of new footage, it demonstrates just how vital these citizen-created videos are in establishing a real sense of what's happening on the ground.


3:01 PM ET -- A possible compromise in the works. Iran scholar Reza Aslan on the Daily Beast:

Reliable sources in Iran are suggesting that a possible compromise to put an end to the violent uprising that has rocked Iran for the past two weeks may be in the works. I have previously reported that the second most powerful man in Iran, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of the Assembly of Experts (the body with the power to choose and dismiss the Supreme Leader) is in the city of Qom--the country's religious center--trying to rally enough votes from his fellow Assembly members to remove the current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei from power. News out of Iran suggests that he may be succeeding. At the very least, it seems he may have gained enough support from the clerical establishment to force a compromise from Khamenei, one that would entail a run-off election between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his main reformist rival Mir Hossein Mousavi.

2:48 PM ET -- A note to readers who read Russian... I'm hearing that there's some interesting Iran reporting coming out of Russia. If you can do a scan of papers and check it out, it'd be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

2:45 PM ET -- Boycotting caviar. The Guardian reports:

One of the leading European importers of Iranian caviar, Hague-based Persian Caviar, has decided to boycott the product, France Soir reports (in French).

"I will not give any more money to a regime that is massacring my people," said Hossein Akef, the Iranian director of the company.

Persian Caviar, which sells about €400,000-€450,000 in Iranian caviar a year, will continue to import the luxury food item from other Caspian Sea countries, "all of which are also good," Akef said.

2:39 PM ET -- Good news. Via reader Alex, the Tor Project, which allows Iranian (and anyone else) to use the internet through private and secure "virtual tunnels," reports a continued spike in users accessing the web from Iran.

2:16 PM ET -- Congress jumps into Iran again. "A Republican effort on Tuesday to cut off U.S. loans to some companies doing business with Iran will bring Congress deeper into the fray over the U.S. response to the Iranian elections," the congressional paper CQ reported earlier this week.

Adam Blickstein of the National Security Network, who calls the Iran provision "red meat for Ahmadinejad and the Khamenei regime," notes today that it was approved by committee and now is attached to a "must-pass" spending bill.

The man behind the measure is Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), who has been highlighting the fact that the Israel lobby group AIPAC supports the measure. But Blickstein notes:

Keith Weissman, AIPAC's former top Iran analyst, strenuously disagreed with such initiatives, at least for right now. "The best policy now is, 'Do no harm,'" he said.

Neither sanctions nor diplomatic engagement has meaning now, since the country is in internal turmoil, Weissman explained: "What AIPAC is doing here is hurting the very people the U.S. and the rest of world would like to assist in Iran. Any kind of message like this just proves what the bad guys in Iran have been saying to their people for years. It makes it easier for them to hurt the people Obama is trying to help.

2:08 PM ET -- "Remember that I helped the BBC." BBC's John Simpson, whose visa expired on Sunday, writes today of the "Secret voices in Iran." (Via Robert Mackey.)

For reasons best not explained, I've come to know a former member of the Revolutionary Guards really well. He's done some pretty dreadful things in his life, from attacking women in the streets for not wearing the full Islamic gear to fighting alongside Islamic revolutionaries in countries abroad.

And yet now, in the tumult that has gripped Iran since its elections last week, he's had a change of heart. He's become a backer of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the reformist candidate who alleges fraud in the elections. He's saved up the money to send his son to a private school abroad, and he loathes President Ahmadinejad. He's not the only one.

I had to leave Iran last Sunday, when the authorities refused to renew my visa. But before I left, another former senior Revolutionary Guard came to our hotel to see us. "Remember me," he pleaded. "Remember that I helped the BBC." I realised that even a person so intimately linked to the Islamic Revolution thinks that something will soon change in Iran.

1:59 PM ET -- The doctor who tried to save Neda. Via reader Margarita, BBC just posted a 20-minute video interview with Dr. Arash Hejazi, who is studying at a university in the south of England, and who tried to save Neda's life after she was shot in Tehran.

Dr Hejazi also told how passers-by then seized an armed Basij militia volunteer who appeared to admit shooting Ms Soltan.

Dr Hejazi said he had not slept for three nights following the incident, but he wanted to speak out so that her death was not in vain.

He doubted that he would be able to return to Iran after talking openly about Ms Soltan's killing. [...]

"They are going to denounce what I am saying. They are going to put so many things on me. I have never been in politics. I am jeopardising my situation because of the innocent look in her (Neda's) eyes."


1:21 PM ET -- Will the U.S. soccer team wear green? A petition:

To the U.S. soccer team players:


Please consider wearing green wristbands in your upcoming match in the Confederations Cup finale. It would be a sign of solidarity and compassion for your fellow soccer brethren who were banned from the game they love and face unthinkable repercussions for simply adorning a green wristband symbolizing peace and freedom. This is not politics, it is human rights. Any slap on the wrist you may face from FIFA pales in comparison to what the Iranian soccer team faced, and what the Iranian people face.

Make us proud. Make the world proud.

You can send the team a message here.

1:17 PM ET -- Chavez 'makes common cause with repression.' Norman Soloman, one of the most frequent Western defenders of Hugo Chavez against U.S. criticism, calls the Venezuelan leader's position on Iran "idiocy."

12:33 PM ET -- Careless murder. Al Jazeera airs some of the clearest, close-up footage I've seen showing basiji on a roof, firing weapons indiscriminately down into the street. It appears about 1 minute in, and is followed by an interview with YouTube political director Steve Grove.


12:29 PM ET -- Solidarity. We noted earlier that Mousavi was calling on supporters to release green balloons tomorrow and take video or photos of the scene. NIAC translated the Mousavi Facebook message:

"Ok, now all the world are going to show their supports to Iranians... This Friday, We all are going to send GREEN BALLOONS to the sky to show that now ALL PEOPLE OF THE WORLD ARE IRANIAN. On 9/11 everybody was American, NOW THE WORLD IS IRANIAN."

12:15 PM ET -- If you'd like to support this post on Digg... please click here, and thank you.

11:56 AM ET -- FIFA soccer organization sends letter on Iran. AFP reports, "Football's world governing body FIFA wrote to the Iranian football federation on Wednesday to ask for answers over alleged punishments meted out to several of their players for wearing wristbands reflecting their support for opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi."

"We wrote a letter to the Iranian Federation to ask for some answers and clarification regarding the press reports over what happened to some of the Iranian players following the qualifier with South Korea on June 17," the spokesperson said.

11:51 AM ET -- Solidarity. A reader from Georgia writes, "I just attended a candle light vigil in Atlanta last night, about 175-200 people showed...emotional." Another reader in Texas: "I can't do much here ... but I can chant. I'm going to go out tonight, and every night that the protestors are protesting ... and chant 'Allaho Akbar' and 'I am Neda' (or God bless Neda). My neighbors won't get it but that's okay."

And cartoonist Darnell Wilburn writes,

I used to work as an editorial cartoonist for a small newspaper but since moved away from it. Now, I only draw when I'm really struck by a story. And this one has got my attention. I sent this cartoon to the Post last night but I don't know that it made it through the filters. So I'm sending it to you, as it seems you'd be the most relevant channel right now. I just wanted to express my support for their cause in the most honest way I can.


11:49 AM ET -- CNN's 'anti-Iran war room.' An Iranian site Jahan News, citing the state-funded FARS, claims the CNN has created a war room to fight a psychological war against the Islamic Republic.

Laughable, though CNN has indeed provided the best cable network news coverage of the events in Iran, and their iReport citizen journalism site is reportedly seeing a surge in readership.

11:41 AM ET -- The Saudis join the plot. ABC's Lara Setrakian: "Iran state tv says Saudi govt also behind iranelection protests."

Meanwhile, "Lebanese militant group Hezbollah on Thursday accused the West of fomenting protests in Iran over this month's presidential election but added that it had no worries about the stability of its main foreign backer."

The Saudi allegations are notable (and predictable) because Mousavi ally Rafsanjani is known to be very close with the Saudi leadership.

Update: Stories just published by Iran's state media also go after France and the EU.

11:34 AM ET -- Mousavi back under house arrest... according to the Gooya news site.

Also, state media reports that a Mousavi aide is now subject to a travel ban:

Iran bans one of the aides of defeated Reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi from leaving the country until he elaborates on aspects pertinent to the recent post-election unrest.

Abolfazl Fateh, head of the Mousavi information committee who seeks to visit England, "has been banned (from leaving Iran) because of (his role in) recent developments and his efforts to arrange for the illegal gathering of Mousavi supporters," the Fars news agency reported.

11:20 AM ET -- Rumors of a compromise circulate. Mehdi Noorbaksh, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, emails a message to TehranBureau: "There is a possibility, and I am saying a possibility, for a compromise on the election result among the involved parties in Iran in the next couple of days. I received a call from Iran late last night indicating that there is a possibility for a runoff between Mousavi and Ahmadinejad. There are a few points that we should consider in this context." His full message is here.

10:03 AM ET -- USA Today profiles Iran's women. "One scene stood out, and 'he couldn't believe his eyes,' said Mortazavi, 27, who came to the USA from Iran in 2002 and is helping to coordinate protests in the United States. 'He decided it was time to start running when the police were coming. He turned back and saw some women still standing,' she says. 'These women are not afraid.'"

9:50 AM ET -- Most university professors reportedly released. An Iranian journalist tweets (in Persian) that of the 70 faculty members who were arrested yesterday, 66 are freed while 4 are still detained.

Also, Demotix says one of its freelance photographers was released, and even given his camera back.

9:42 AM ET -- Reza Aslan on the Daily Show. One of the more insightful voices on Iran, Reza Aslan of the University of California Santa Barbara, appeared last night on the Daily Show. "Thank god for Barack Obama," he said.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Reza Aslan
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJason Jones in Iran

9:37 AM ET -- Obama playing hard to get? Foreign Policy magazine's excellent Laura Rozen reads into the latest moves from the White House:

[S]ome Middle East watchers believe the timing of news last night that the United States would send an ambassador back to Damascus Syria after a four-year absence is no coincidence, and may be related to the new Obama administration tone on Iran.

Asked about that theory, a U.S. official said: "You're warm." Syrian Embassy and Middle East expert sources noted that news reports on the envoy to Damascus seemed to have originated with the White House -- which has been in the midst of daily meetings about Iran for several days -- not the State Department.

"I think the Obama administration strategy -- while not fully formed -- was always that it wanted to engage with both Iran and Syria, and it wanted to play one side off the other," said Syria expert Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "This does have to do with that. I don't think we fully understand all of their reasoning on this ... but by announcing that it will send an ambassador to Damascus, it sends a message both to Damascus and Tehran."

9:20 AM ET -- Ahmadinejad lashes out, compares Obama to Bush. "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused Barack Obama on Thursday of behaving like his predecessor toward Iran and said there was not much point in talking to Washington unless the U.S. president apologized."

Obama said on Tuesday he was "appalled and outraged" by a post-election crackdown and Washington withdrew invitations to Iranian diplomats to attend U.S. Independence Day celebrations on July 4 -- stalling efforts to improve ties with Tehran.

"Mr Obama made a mistake to say those things ... our question is why he fell into this trap and said things that previously (former U.S. President George W.) Bush used to say," the semi-official Fars News Agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

"Do you want to speak with this tone? If that is your stance then what is left to talk about ... I hope you avoid interfering in Iran's affairs and express your regret in a way that the Iranian nation is informed of it," he said.

The New York Times explores how Ahmadinejad maintains his grip on power:

Mr. Ahmadinejad has filled crucial ministries and other top posts with close friends and allies who have spread ideological and operational support for him nationwide. These analysts estimate that he has replaced 10,000 government employees to cement his loyalists through the bureaucracies, so that his allies run the organizations responsible for both the contested election returns and the official organs that have endorsed them.

"There is a whole political establishment that emerged with Ahmadinejad, which is now determined to hold on to power undemocratically," said one American-based Iran analyst, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of his work in Iran. "Their ability to resist the outcome of the election means they have a broad base as a political establishment."

Also, Joe Klein's new Time magazine piece includes some relevant news that I had missed: "The truth is, Iran's government is a conservative, defensive, rational military dictatorship that manages to subdue its working-class majority softly, by distributing oil revenues downward. (On June 23, Ahmadinejad announced that doctors' salaries would be doubled, for example.)"

9:09 AM ET -- Mousavi vows to continue fight against "rigged" vote. "Iran's opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi said on Thursday he was determined to continue fighting against 'major' presidential election rigging despite pressure to stop, his website reported. 'I am pressured to abandon my demand for the vote annulment ... a major rigging has happened ... I am prepared to prove that those behind the rigging are responsible for the bloodshed ... Continuation of legal and calm protests will guarantee achieving our goals,' Mousavi said."

Robert Tait of the Guardian translates more:

He declares: "I am ready to show how the electoral wrong-doers, standing beside the main agitators that have caused the present disturbances, have spilled people's blood. I would not, for the sake of personal expediency and fear in the face of threats, withdraw for one moment my demands for the return of the rights of the Iranian people, whose blood is being unjustly spilled today."

He added: "(The people's) problem is with millions of votes whose fate is unknown."

Calling for people to keep calm while resisting, he goes on: "It is a must for us to neutralise this evil conspiracy through our behaviour and expressions."

8:44 AM ET -- Boston Globe profiles TehranBureau.com. As it turns out, the Bureau is made up of just one extremely committed person channeling the work of many Iranians:

The website is called Tehran Bureau, but it is not housed in the Iranian capital. It's edited from [Kelly Golnoush] Niknejad's parents' living room in Newton.

"Everybody thinks this is some kind of extensive bureau, but it's just me," Niknejad said yesterday as she sat alone at a small round table, tapping on one of two Apple PowerBooks.

8:32 AM ET -- Footage appears to show Neda while alive. The video below, taken on Saturday, appears to show Neda and her professor in the lower right quarter of the screen roughly 20 seconds in. They're walking together as several paramilitaries riding motorcycles appear at the other end of the street.


8:26 AM ET -- Iran slams Britain's asset freeze as "human rights issue." From state media:

Amid growing tension between Tehran and London over post-vote riots, an Iranian dignitary lashes out at the UK for freezing a large sum of Iranian assets. [...]

Britain's Economic Secretary to the Treasury Ian Pearson said last week that the British government had frozen "approximately GBR 976,110,000" worth of Iranian assets. [...]

"The British government has frozen nearly one billion pounds of Iranian assets in England. This is in clear contradiction to what they claim. In their media they repeatedly claim to be advocates of human rights in Iran. They say they are defending the Iranian people but such a move is obviously against the Iranian nation because the assets belong to the people not to particular individuals."

Whose assets did Britain freeze? It's still unknown, but the British media report that they were funds belonging to Ayatollah Khamenei's son.

8:23 AM ET -- The regime exposed. A cartoon published in the Guardian, by artist Steve Bell:


8:14 AM ET -- An Iranian on Twitter reappears. One Iranian on Twitter who had not posted for three days returned today:

I'm only posting this to say I'm still alive & not in Tehran, I had a bad incident with Basij and couldn't use computer

Shayan's brother's fate is still unknown, Reza has been released yesterday & at hospital right now & I think Masood is safe

as soon I can walk properly again, I will go back to Tehran. probably tomorrow night

I will twitt again at night, my back & neck hurts a lot & I can't sit here anymore

sorry about no news at all in these past days, I will try my best to keep you informed again as soon as possible

8:12 AM ET -- More symbolic protests. "Mousavi supporters said they would release thousands of balloons on Friday imprinted with the message 'Neda you will always remain in our hearts' -- a reference to the young woman killed last week who has become an icon of the protests."

8:09 AM ET -- MPs "snub" Ahmadinejad election party. "More than 180 Iranian MPs appear to have snubbed an invitation to celebrate President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's election win, local press reports say. All 290 MPs were invited to the victory party on Wednesday night, but only 105 turned up, the reports say. A BBC correspondent says the move is a sign of the deep split at the top of Iran after disputed presidential polls."

8:05 AM ET -- Iran uprising as civil rights movement. Andrew linked yesterday to an analysis by Hamid Dabashi that is worth printing again:

I see the moment we are witnessing as a civil rights movement rather than a push to topple the regime. If Rosa Park was the American "mother of the civil rights movement," the young woman who was killed point blank in the course of a demonstration, Neda Agha-Soltan, might very well emerge as its Iranian granddaughter.

If I am correct in this reading, we should not expect an imminent collapse of the regime. These young Iranians are not out in the streets seeking to topple the regime for they lack any military wherewithal to do so, and they are alien to any militant ideology that may push them in that direction.

It seems to me that these brave young men and women have picked up their hand-held cameras to shoot those shaky shots, looking in their streets and alleys for their Martin Luther King. They are well aware of Mir Hossein Moussavi's flaws, past and present. But like the color of green, the very figure of Moussavi has become, it seems to me, a collective construction of their desires for a peaceful, nonviolent attainment of civil and women's rights. They are facing an army of firearms and fanaticism with chanting poetry and waving their green bandannas. I thought my generation had courage to take up arms against tyranny. Now I tremble with shame in the face of their bravery.

Democracy Now also has video and audio of an interview with Dabashi here.

7:49 AM ET -- A letter from an Iranian. An Iranian who holds citizenship with a Western nation writes:

I haven't gone out much after Saturday because of the giant guilt trip my family put on me...they were so worried that 4 of my family members had to take tranquilizers to calm their nerves. They say that if my grandfather dies it will be my fault. They won't let me shout Allah O Akbar (it really does help relieve a persons stress) from the rooftop for fear of reprisals. All this has depressed me terribly. I feel like I didn't do enough (and that they definitely didn't), I'm almost hoping to be arrested at the airport (I leave in a few days) as it would mean I did enough to be noticed. I think about all the great people who helped change their countries (Ghandi, Nelson Mandela and even our own Khomeini) they were all willing to sacrifice something or spend some time in jail, however most of my family are not willing to sacrifice a single Rial. They are in disagreement with the way the government acts but for fear of losing a little bit of the comfort they have they aren't willing to walk to the door never mind a protest.

I've also been getting a lot of "this is all the work of the British and American's" as if Iranians are to stupid or so low that they can't do anything for themselves. It must all be the work of foreign powers. I just hope that all this lead's to something, that people weren't beaten and killed for nothing. Once again I'm forced to sing Neil Young's Ohio in my head Which seems even more relevant after the video of a young woman dying in the street has swept the world) and hope for change.

"Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are gunning us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?"

I don't know what to think anymore, but I know I won't ever be the same.

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