Today marks the 31st anniversary of the rise of the current government of Iran, and no one is particularly happy about it. The government has brought in some hired mobs to demonstrate in favor of the revolution, and they are boasting of their nuclear accomplishments, but they know they are not popular with the people. Iranians have been protesting the government off and on for the last year, and especially since the last election which appears to have been stolen by the government.
The regime has responded by clamping down on Internet access, and even attempting to stop Gmail. They have to clamp down on communications to keep the population from revolt, but the Iranians are very technically savvy and keep finding ways around their oppressors.
The Iranian revolution and the hostage crisis that soon followed were some of the first times where I was aware of foreign events. Of course I was young and naive, and I thought that having a dictator or a king gone would be a good thing. But as The Who sang at the Super Bowl recently, “Meet the new Boss, same as the old Boss.” The Shah had his bad points, but women, religious minorities, and those who are less than totally strict Muslims fared much better under him than they do now. Not to mention that he didn’t stir up too much trouble outside of his borders.
Shortly after the revolution and the hostage crisis, a kid from Iran transferred into my high school. (Incidentally, I met the son of an Afghan resistance fighter in my high school too. I wonder what he has gone on to.) His parents had left Iran when the Shah departed, because they supported the Shah and they were too westernized to live comfortably under the new regime. So I got to learn a bit more about Iran from him.
Here is one Iranian exile, Nazanin Afshin-Jam, whose parents left Iran when she was young. (If you are from Iran, there is a good chance the government has blocked her website.) She grew up to become Miss Canada, and is now a singer. Her song below expresses hope for a change:
She is also active in the movement to stop child executions. She says in a recent interview that in Iran, boys as young as 15, and girls as young as 9, can be executed for various crimes including drug trafficking, homosexuality, being raped (a girl is often presumed to be an adulteress if she is raped), or converting from Islam to another religion.