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Story Publication logo June 15, 2009

Tehran's Wild Nights of Protest


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After a hotly contested presidential election that resulted in street riots and a disputed claim to...


Tehran is living strange days. After two nights of rioting, this city that manages to combine the frantic with the lackadaisical takes even longer than usual to get going in the morning.

Street-sweepers brush glass away from shattered bus-stops as slow traffic trundles past torched and blackened bank fronts. An overcast and cooler than usual summer with frequent rainstorms makes for a brooding atmospheric backdrop to the scenes of urban tension unfolding in the streets.

People go about their daily business against a backdrop of disrupted city life: scorched tarmac, overturned and torched trash bins, bus-stops bereft of glass sidings.

"I feel like that guy who was sitting in the Berlin cafe as Hitler came to power and, unlike those around him, knew that this was the end of democracy and freedom," said a 25-year-old journalist as he steered his car through the streets. "Not that we ever had freedoms and democracy here."

The now nightly shulugheha (troubles) that start as night falls and stretch until dawn are the talk of the town. But much debate revolves over whether the vote was rigged or not.

"The meta-narrative in the West now is beginning to emerge that these elections were not rigged but represent Ahmadinejad's popularity in the countryside," American journalist Robert Dreyfuss told a group of Iranian journalists as they sipped tea in his hotel lobby.

Some Iranians concur.

"Maybe there was some rigging, one or two million votes," a taxi driver told me as he steered his cab around the carbonized detritus of overnight rioting. "But Ahmadinejad still won by 24 million to Mousavi's 13 million. You can't falsify such a large number. The protesters were just looking for an excuse to cause a revolution."

That is the same accusation being made by Ahmadinejad's government. They believe that a Color Revolution is in the offing that is being promoted by invisible Western hands working through young, impressionable and highly excitable students.

Continue reading full article at GlobalPost.

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