Tag: <span>Islamic Republic</span>

Iran Appeals

A Wind of Change Blows Ever Stronger in Iran.

Featured Image: Photos of various protests in London in solidarity with Mahsa Amini.

Despite strong governmental repression, a wind of change blows ever stronger in Iran.  What began  as manifestations on 16 September 2022 concerning the death of a young Kurdish woman, Mahsa Anini at the hands of the “morality police” continues today among all ethnic groups and in most parts of the country.  The first cries of “Women -Life- Liberty” continue, but “Down with the Islamic Republic” is increasingly heard.

People are discussiong radical social change.

This is a new generation of protesters, too young to have been in the 2009 Green Movement protests linked to the election of the President or the 2019 protests linked to the high costs of living.  The country still faces economic difficulties, but the hopes for gradual reforms to be undertaken by the government have given way to protesting the nature of the government.  More and more people are discussing the nature of a post-theocratic government. People are discussiong radical social change.  The tight control by the government and its conservative allies is fast slipping away.

Iran

Image: Thousands turn out in Melbourne to stand in solidarity with protests that have broken out in Iran following the death of 22-year old Mahsa (also known as Jina or Zhina) Amini at the hands of the country’s brutal dictatorship and its ‘morality’ police. By Matt Hrkac from Geelong / Melbourne, Australia, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Iran: Women-Life-Liberty.

Blame Game.

The protests which began with the leadership of women focused on women’s issues have become increasingly mixed by gender, age,  and ethnicity.  The issues raised have also become broader.  The government is seriously worried but is unable to create a counter-vision to its current theocratic framework.  Repression is the government’s line of defense.  Some 300 persons have been killed by the government security forces and an estimated 14,000 arrested.  The government has tried to blame the U.S.A. and Israel as the sources of the manifestations.  While there is an active community of Iranians in the U.S.A. who are generally liberal in their social-political convictions, the current manifestations are not the result of efforts by Iranian exiles or the U.S. government.  Few persons in Iran are taken in by the “blame game.”

The manifestations are creating new ties of solidarity among people who did not know eachother before.  It is impossible to know at this stage how events will develop.  The military and especially the Revolutionary Guards may grow stronger as they are well organized while the protesters do not have a coordinated leadership.  It is difficult to know how to support the protests from outside the country, but the situation merits close attention.

 

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Narges Bajoghli Book Reviews

Narges Bajoghli. Iran Re-Framed: Anxieties of Power in the…

(Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2019).

The title of this valuable book comes from the vocabulary of film and video making when images are “reframed”; to tell a different or additional story than when the images were first made.  The book is devoted to interviews and discussions with film and video makers in Iran; who are supporters of the regime; having made films for the Revolutionary Guard and the Bagij (a volunteer paramilitary group first; created during the Iraq-Iran war.)

As Narges Bajoghli writes:

Once I began my long-term research in Iran in 2009, I became immerssed in the richly complex and competitive environment of regime media production.  I found a media world in which men tied to the Revolutionary Guard and the country’s paramilitary organizations held heated debates about the future of the Islamic Republic, fought with one another over resources and pursued their project through trial and error…They engaged in difficult conversations about which stories to tell, whose stories are included and how to frame the issues at hand.  The revolutionary zeal of the founding decades is now gone, and the regime’s media producers face the dilemma of how to replace it with a commitment to the regime in the face of fierce international pressures.

To make matters even more complicated, regime media producers in Iran have to contend with the fact that audiences dismiss anything they produce as propaganda. So how do they get a message across when a large portion of the audience no longer wants to engage?”

    

  She writes of one media discussion; in which she participated.

Populist Nationalism.

As the regime’s cultural producers were strategizing new engagement and distribution strategic; they began to brainstorm about the ways they could tailor the content of their work to young audiences.  Their old stories were couched in their interpretations of a Shi’a ethos of fighting against oppression that was embodied in the Karbala mythology of Imam Hussein.  But these stories clearly no longer resonated with their desired audience; they needed a new unifying story.  This new story presented itself in the form of populist nationalism in the general population. 

Mr Ahmedi chimed in ‘We have to show young people that we’re here to protect Iran as a nation not just the Islamic Republic as an idea.  Young people pull away from us because they see the regime as alien to the history of Iran.  We have to show them that we also care about Iran.”

Four Generations.

         Narges Bajoghli deals with four critical periods of modern Iran, creating what she considers as four generations.  Generations are defined; not so much by time as by central events that touch people of different ages; but whose attitudes and world vision are formed; at least in part by these central events.

The Islamic Revolution.

1) The first of the current generation was formed by the Islamic Revolution; with the return from exile in February 1979 of Ayatollah Khomeini; followed by the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran war.  The war allowed the Islamic Republic government; to silence dissent and eliminate many of the non-Islamic elements; which had been active in overthrowing the Shah.  The war time media helped to rally the country; behind nationalist sentiments and to strengthen state institutions.

The Reconstruction.

2) The second generation was formed by the post-war 1990s: the reconstruction after the war led to economic gain for those close to power.

Once the war ended, a conscious decision was made to transform the war from a military confrontation with Iraq to a cultural and social confrontation in Iranian cities and towns.”  This period saw the rise of efforts to control dress; increased participation in religious ceremonies and a stress on Islamic values.

Green Movement.

3) The third generation is marked by the 2009; Green Movement with the largest demonstrations; since the 1979 period.  The regime confronted a crisis of credibility.  While the Green Movement did not reach its goals; the Movement impacted those who participated; and so became the defining event of the generation.

Soft War.

4)  The fourth generation is the current; one that the regime media producers want to influence.  Since 2015; the regime cultural producers have begun to pour more money and resources into producing music videos; that they hope young people will not only consume; but also make viral on Instagram and Telegram.  There is an increasing effort to confront; what the Iranian officials call the “Soft War” – the ways in which the U.S.A., European powers, the iranian diaspora and Israel try to influence Iranian politics with the power of culture.  This “Soft War” is still going on; and Narges Bajoghli has written a useful guide to understnading the issues.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.