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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Iran: "What Powers This New Militancy"?

What powers this new militancy? The Islamic Republic is not a dictatorship in the normal sense of the word. Its practitioners believe they are doing God's work on earth. Guiding the wayward by persuasion and coercion is among their chief tasks. Nearly every young person in Iran, particularly young women, can recount dozens of stories of humiliation and discrimination at the hands of government agents and supporters. For them, each rock thrown at the police, each hand-to-hand combat with the militiamen and vigilantes, each confrontation with the heavily armed Revolutionary Guards is not just an act of political defiance but a cathartic experience of personal liberation.

Unlike their wide-eyed parents with their utopias and romanticization of revolutionary violence, the new young revolutionaries are sophisticated and canny. They have few illusions about the magnitude of the problems facing their country or the complexities of living in a highly traditional and religious society. For example, despite the fact that they are overwhelmingly secular, their slogans mingle political and religious themes to avoid alienating the faithful. Their response to Obama's initially measured rhetoric is another sign of a new political sophistication at work: everyone understands that US meddling would be the proverbial kiss of death to the opposition's cause.

link: Iran's New Revolutionaries


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