Thursday, June 18, 2009

From Maziar Bahari in Tehran

Opposition supporters worry about their movement being hijacked.

Maziar Bahari
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Jun 17, 2009 | Updated: 8:29 p.m. ET Jun 17, 2009

There is no English equivalent for the Farsi words Efraat and Tafrit. They refer to the possibility of extremism on both sides of an issue, and they were much in use during the third day of peaceful marches in Tehran Wednesday.

Despite official warnings against gathering, at least half a million people marched along a street in central Tehran Wednesday afternoon to protest the re-election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a vote that many believe was blatantly rigged. After three days of ignoring the demonstrators, who believe opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi was the true victor, state-run Iranian television showed some images of Wednesday's activities. But its reporters chose to talk only to the ordinary citizens on the sidelines, who complained about the Mousavi supporters as a nuisance who were creating traffic in the city and bringing businesses to a halt. The crowd was peaceful and quiet, as they have been in previous days. But a chant against the director of Iranian television, Ezatollah Zarghami, was one of the few slogans heard today. "Shame, Shame, Zarghami!" people intoned.

What incensed people about the television coverage of recent days was its focus on the violence and vandalism that has broken out in sporadic incidents at night, and not the peaceful marches in the afternoons. "It's shameful that the state-run media show all of us as a group of hooligans who break shop windows and burn cars," said Mina, a doctor who has taken part in all of the pro-Mousavi demonstrations since Monday. Mina was a political prisoner before and after the revolution. She fought against both the Shah and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's regime as a member of an armed communist group. She now believes that violence is passé and counterproductive, and that it is only through peaceful means that Iranians can establish their rights. What worried Mina and other marchers was the violence that has broken out at night, which officials have blamed on Mousavi supporters....(more)

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