Monday, June 22, 2009

A turning point in Iran?

To this point, I have not posted links to other sites here on this blog nor am I certain if I will in the future. But I am sorely tempted to post what has become perhaps the signature moment of the recent turmoil in Iran - a video of a young woman who was allegedly shot by the Iranian security forces dying. I have seen the video and it is very disturbing, to put it mildly. Even in the generation of the gratuitous violence freely available through our many media outlets, this video is chilling. In the video, you can see the woman falling down and others rushing to her side (including, allegedly, her father). There is blood on the ground surrounding her and it continues to pool around her chest area - she was apparently shot in the heart. Then, blood starts pouring out of her facial orifices, until her young face is changed into a grotesquely bloody visage reminiscent of a horrifying Halloween mask. Men surround her in a futile attempt to save her.

Her death is clearly haunting the Iranian leadership. Her family was allowed to bury her quietly and have been told that there are to be no public remembrances. The implication is clear - her death can all too easily become a rallying cry. Despite government attempts to prevent it, the video is available in Iran and protesters who have spent the last week demonstrating for what they feel was a rigged election will soon demand justice from their government for the unnecessary murder of one of their countrymen/women. What has been a series of protests focused on the election results that were worrying for the leadership but perhaps not truly threatening could become the death knell for the Islamic Revolution. The government may well survive, but it is unlikely that it will enjoy the same legitimacy that it has since its inception under Ayatollah Khomeini 30 years ago. If it does not, then the cause will be one of its own making.

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