I spent three months in Iran last year and got introduced to the most welcoming people I have ever met on my travels. Iranian hospitality is legendary and was impressive by both the young, rich and liberal in north Tehran as well as large poor families in conservative rural towns. I also made some good friends there who I keep thinking of while these current events keep escalating.
Me and two Italian friends had dinner at Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan. The second largest square after Tiananmen square in China. The three girls on the next table were pretty and not at all shy. They showed us around town and bought us lunch (no argument there).
And this is what it looked like today, filled with brave Iranians fighting for their rights and for their vote to count.
My friends in Isfahan went to the university and lived at the dormotories. Earlier today there were reports of attacks on the dormotory there and this video confirms it. I hope they are ok.
Most people see Iran as an axis of evil. A dangerous place. With fanatical and religious people. I have written before about the truth about Iran and its people. But even so I am surprised about the turnout of these demonstrations and how brave the people are for standing up to their government. When I was there I tried talking to people about the problems that exists because of their leader and the way the state is structutured. Most people were very dissatisfied with the government but they seemed to be very apathatic about making any changes. They tried to live their lives and kept their joys in private. Maybe this time the government pushed too far with their fraud. Or maybe they saw that when (even) America can CHANGE so can Iran. Another thing to remember is that Iran tried this 30 years ago. These events are in some ways very much alike to what happened when Khomehni took power. The people were dissatisfied with the Shah (king) and wanted a true democracy. Khomehni promised it but as we all now did not live up to his words. The result is that Iranians have until now been very reluctant to make such a major change again.
These events also make me think how lucky my timing was last year. I was in Tehran in early 2008 and suddenly there was an election which was all new to me. But it was a local election. I went out on the streets to check it out but it was a ghost town except for a small crowd of 50 people outside the university where the voting booth was. One old man shouted "Bush - monkey. Bush - monkey" and I smiled and said "balle" - "yes". Earlier that month another important event occurred in Tehran - the day of the revolution. About a million conservative Iranians parades in the streets along with me and two Norwegian girls. But it was a peaceful day out for families and people were smiling.
While I am worried for my friends in Iran and worried that the demonstration will be cracked down upon without any result, or maybe even for the worse, I am still glad to see these events occuring. A change for a slightly more liberal president is not enough. A revolution is needed.
Engelab Iran - Azadi.
Revolution Iran - Freedom.