August 10, 2010


Has Tehran lost the weapon of fear? (Michael Theodoulou, August 10, 2010, The National)

It is a sign that the Iranian regime’s use of fear to silence domestic critics may be weakening when one of its most influential hard-line clerics is publicly ridiculed.

The moment came in last July when Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati alleged recently that the leaders of the opposition green movement were paid US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) by the United States to foment unrest in the wake of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election last year.

“Even a boiled chicken will laugh at his words,” scoffed Zahra Rehnavard on August 1. She is the wife of the opposition leader, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the man whom millions of Iranians believe was the real winner of the vote that the opposition says was rigged. [...]

As embarrassing for the regime are the relentless opposition attacks on Ayatollah Jannati, which are chipping away at the regime’s legitimacy.

The cleric alleged in late July that he had documents proving the US had used “Saudi individuals” to pay the “leaders of sedition” – a term coined by hardliners to describe opposition leaders $1bn to stoke post-election turmoil.

He claimed they were promised a further $50bn if they managed to “overthrow the Islamic establishment”.

Lashing out in response, Mr Mousavi, Mehdi Karrubi and Mohammad Khatami accused Ayatollah Jannati of lying, defamation, helping to engineer Mr Ahmadinejad’s “stolen” election and of complicity in the “brutal” repression of those who peacefully opposed it.

“These attacks on Jannati are an implicit challenge to the authority of Iran’s supreme leader, who reinstated him last month in his Guardian Council post,” said Scott Lucas, an Iran specialist at Birmingham University in England.

“The regime has long used the fear factor of foreign intervention to suppress the opposition. But Jannati’s accusations that the green’s leaders were involved in a US-Saudi plot have backfired by exposing the highly suspect nature of such claims,” Mr Lucas added in a telephone interview.

Cover version of a Pink Floyd classic brings fight against Iranian government to the masses (Ben Kaplan, 8/10/10, National Post)

Blurred Vision is a Canadian-Iranian rock band that the Iranian government apparently doesn’t want its citizens to hear. “We can’t be positive it’s them, but someone’s been on our Facebook page saying things like we’re sponsored by the CIA or else puppets of the Pentagon,” says Sepp, the band’s 28-year-old lead singer, who doesn’t want to give his last name for fear of repercussions to his family members still back in Iran. “The best thing about those messages, though, is the response they get every time. Almost as soon as someone sends up one of those postings, dozens more people kick those comments back down.”

Blurred Vision has attracted controversy, both in Canada and their birth country of Iran, thanks to a cover version of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall. Recorded in October with new lyrics approved by Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters, the brothers have changed the song’s chorus to, “Hey, Ayatollah, Leave them kids alone.”

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Posted by Orrin Judd at August 10, 2010 3:52 PM
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