Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Green Wave

Painting the Town Green
Yesterday I was wandering around the streets, and all the kids were complimenting my green sunglasses - "oooh green, nice". Green is the color of Moussavi, and wearing it in any form has become a statement. My eyes are green too, I was thinking. Lucky me.

At the fruit juice stand, in a comradely exchange, a young passerby was tying green ribbons on each of the juice boy's wrists. I ordered an orange juice, but I really should have gotten the fresh green melon - it tastes better too.

In the streets of Shiraz, people gathered, covered head to toe in green. Anything green is dressed, tied, draped, pasted, or painted onto bodies. Some people tore off tree branches, with green leaves of course, waving them around at the passing cars. Poor trees, my uncle bemoaned, although a Moussavi leaflet sat on the table in front of him. The youth danced in the streets to Bandari music(a beat infused music from the Gulf). Police are around, but they dare say nothing.

A fiery green wave - "mowj-e sabz" - is crashing the cities of Iran. In Tehran people formed a green tinged human-chain - "zangir-e ensaani" - along the entire 25 kilometers of tree-lined Vali Asr Street, from Tajreesh market in the north, all the way to the train station in the south.

Moussavi Supporters
The debates are over now, and our nights are free again. They have made quite an impact. Here are a few highlights from those, as far as I understood, and can remember:

Ahmadinejad's strategy against Moussavi was to criticize the "20 year" era of rule in Iran before his time. During that time, he said, Iran was only bowing down to the West and meanwhile they only wanted to "destroy" Iran. It is only in the last 4 years, thanks to him of course, that America no longer threatens to attack Iran. He proceeded his blame game, citing various names including Khatami, Rafsanjani and others; at one point he said something to the effect of Rafsanjani and his son being at the "bottom of it all". Ooohs and aahs followed. "terroresh mikonan!?" (they will assassinate him), one viewer wondered....

Some saw Ahmadinejad's defensive stance as a sign that he is in a corner. Also, he was appealing to the same target group that won him the last election (highlighting the corrupt aspects of Iran's power base), and trying nothing new. Many agreed that he went too far. Others feared that some people would only think how proud he is standing and revealing the truth. And in fact some did appreciate it. The following day many people, with rancor in their bellies, listened to him being praised. "I am voting for Ahmadinejad now, he really unveiled everything." There was an excited rumor that Rafsanjani asked to speak on national TV, to defend himself, and that it was going to happen. But this was untrue. (just heard that Rafsanjani has issued an official letter to the Supreme Leader - read here)

Although some complain that Moussavi is not very eloquent (he uses the word "chiz" a lot, which means "thing"), he did however get the final words in, and he was pretty heated up - especially following the comments about his wife. All Ahmadinejad could do at that point was smile - I am not sure what the smile means, sometimes it looks like he is mocking and sometimes as if he's a fearful child.


When Karroubi was debating with Ahmadinejad he got so angry he was practically frothing at the mouth, which he kept wiping with a hanky. K brought up the episode at the UN in New York when AN claimed he had a yellow halo around his head, and when he said that he was going to be stolen from the USA. He also said that the worst sin in Islam is to lie, and he kept pointing out to AN's lies. AN showed a bunch of graphs which he claimed showed that Iran is economically in a better position than it ever was.

During K and M's debate, they both used the opportunity to defend themselves against AN's accusations, and of course to talk shit about AN.

AN and Rezai's debate, the final debate, was by far the best. Rezai, calmly and clearly, logically explained how Iran is not doing well economically and where the previous government, especially the president has erred. He clearly had a lot of information and knew what he was talking about, and many people who watched gathered this. Ahmadinejad only denied each of the claims, saying that everyone is exaggerating and is against the government, all the time twisting words and playing his games. R did not fall for any of the games though. And he kept his cool. At one point, when AN's lies were just verging on the ridiculous, R concluded that his main issue with AN is that he thinks so highly of himself, that he knows about everything, and is not wrong about anything. This is very dangerous, he warned his "dear brother Ahmadinejad". He said AN is not a "liar" (as the others bemoaned), but a "spinner of the truth". AN kept trying to get the last words in, unsuccessfuly trying to blame Rezai of having no experience managing government. The debate was scheduled to conclude with R. and it did, and Rezai ended it quite strongly and effortlessly, again facing those elusive tight-eyed grimacing smiles.

Rezai, with former Economy and Finance Minister

The debates seem to have had a profound effect. The same skeptics who thought nothing would change a few days ago, now believe there may be a good chance that reformists can win.

On those first nights, supporters would hit the streets right after the debate finished cheering and honking. By the last days of the debates, however, there didn't really seem to be a link, and the celebration, under the guise of campaigning, thickens into the night. Imagine the dedication, campaigning until 3 in the morning. The streets, however are not littered with leaflets. The are pasted on cars and store fronts. The majority of stores, in the center of Shiraz have Moussavi's face on them. Meanwhile Ahmadinejad supporters caravan around in motorcycles, looking sort of like a ghetto Hell's Angels.

Mobile phone SMSs about the elections are spreading like wild fire. There are at least a few new jokes about Ahmadinejad each day. The only translatable one I can think of had to do with a yellow halo, but this time around his pants (after the Rezai debate). Other SMS's announce meeting points and times - for Moussavi supporters. One SMS warned not to wear green on election day, as your vote may not be counted. Another advised voters to bring their own pens, - rumor had it that the pens at the ballots might contain disappearing ink!


Slobs said...

Lovely update! I love elections!

Sarvenaz said...

Yes I agree great update! I was just watching a piece on the elections on bbc world. This entry is a lot more insightful than the bbc world piece.

Sarvenaz said...

PS Keep Blogging!!!!

Marija said...

Keep us up to date... we are elections junkies ;)