I am overwhelmed by the variety of rumors, facts and accusations surrounding this emotional election in Iran.
Iran's presidential election results and their aftermath have been “twitter-vised” as well as televised. The Iranian government has attempted to block the news and other social networking sites, but something about Twitter makes it very difficult to block. Even when mobile phone lines are cut and the Internet is down, the rallies and protests continue.
Election results were announced in only a couple of hours -- questionable. Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi’s own hometown was reportedly swept by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the election results-- questionable. Reporters have been arrested and cameras have been confiscated. The volunteer police force, the Basij, invaded university dorms, allegedly killing seven students, ransacking rooms and smashing computers.
Connecting with Iran's young people
Mr. Mousavi organized his presidential campaign around young people -- a smart move in a country where 70 percent of the population is under the age of thirty. A green wave has come over the youth – Mousavi’s campaign color is green and it seems to have become a kind of fashion statement. In speeches, he has recognized young Iranians’ unhappiness with the lack of opportunities in Iran, and asserts that there needs to be a change. Upon hearing this, I am proud.
Still, I know that while he is a “reformist” he would not necessarily be able to carry out the promises he makes, simply because Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei holds more power. Additionally, Mousavi does not have a shining record. His silence as prime minister during the massacre of thousands of political prisoners in 1988 raised doubts prior to this year’s election.
Despite his past, Mousavi has mobilized young Iranians and given them hope in a country where political activism is frowned upon.
I want what the Iranian people want -- a fair election.
Standing with family in Iran
I am proud because I remember the cousins I saw on a visit to Iran less than a year ago. They were extremely smart and determined but aware of the greater opportunities available abroad. They are envious of my “American-ness,” but I cannot explain to them how I am envious of their Iranian-ness. I am disappointed with the allegedly fraudulent election results, but proud that Iranian youth are representing themselves as a force to be reckoned with, angry and ready to protest.
Although I know it is dangerous in Iran, I yearn to be there, standing by them, protesting just the same. At a protest in San Francisco, demonstrators chanted that we are “in this together.”
Yet I cannot help but think that while we support them and will protest all we can from abroad, the fact is that we are not truly in it together. We are willing to protest in America, where it is safe, but we are not risking our lives as they are. Yes, we support them. Yes, we will watch countless hours of YouTube footage, click the refresh button on Twitter and continuously watch CNN and Al Jazeera.
We can attend protests, sign petitions and write letters to our leaders. We are worried, angry, and frustrated just as they are. We support what the Iranian people want.
I want the Iranian youth to know that the American youth, and the rest of the world are behind them. I cannot imagine the anger they must feel for having their votes silenced. Nonetheless, their voices will not be silenced.
'Talk of revolution'
I am proud but as the protests continue, I am also worried. Will they eventually stand down? How many will the government arrest? How many will die? Will it be worth it?
At this point, there is talk of a revolution, but it is hard to say how probable this is, or how soon it will occur. Still, whether a revolution happens tomorrow, or in five years, or ten years, these protests have surely set the contours for such a revolution. Young people have seen the power they have, and the unrest they can cause in the government.
Only time will tell the outcome of the protests, the beatings, the arrests and the deaths. I only hope that it all will not be in vain.