Considering that Ahmadinejad is the so-called president of the 70 million strong Iranian nation, and considering that according to the governing regime in Iran he (sic) “won” the majority of the votes in the election held in June of 2009, you’d think he could muster more than what we see in the video below.
As Ahmadinejad can be heard giving a fiery speech, you can see that the crowd is tiny, and seemingly quite bored, with some just lounging on the ground:
Compare this with the crowd that his main rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi, attracted during the 2009 presidential campaign and…well…you get the picture. And it’s worth a lot more than a thousand words:
A lot of people are writing off the people’s movement for freedom and justice in Iran after the 22 Bahman (February 11) government organized rally on the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Republic. But I completely disagree with this view.
For nine months, we have seen sustained protests against the rigged election, the coup government of Ahmadinejad, and the Islamic Republic, in which the people time and again faced beatings, arrests, torture, rape and the very real prospect of death. In spite of these challenges, the people were successful in every one of these protests, including on 22 Bahman. The only difference between 22 Bahman and the other days of protests is that on 22 Bahman, the government managed, by virtually turning the capital and other major cities into military barracks, to prevent their protests from being hijacked by the people completely.
This is not a victory for the government. Imagine if we hadn’t seen the last nine months worth of protests. Imagine if they had not occurred. Now image that on the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Republic, we saw even a few thousand people in various locations throughout the capital chanting anti-government slogans, things like: “Referendum! Referendum!” and “Free Political Prisoners!”. Now imagine that while Ahmadinejad was speaking in front of throngs of his “supporters” you could hear, on national Iranian television, people chanting “Death to the dictator!” in the middle of his speech! Prior to the 2009 rigged election and the subsequent uprising, even the thought of such things happening on the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Republic would have been unimaginable!
But guess what, these things all happened!
If there had been no prior protests it would have been seen as the potential beginning of an uprising, and some would even likely have gone so far as calling it the beginning of a revolution.
But nine months of successful protests that humiliated the regime time and again DID happen. So when people saw what happened on 22 Bahman, they compared what they saw to what they were used to seeing for the previous nine months, and some of these people–let’s euphemistically call them “pessimists”–decided that it meant the regime had somehow won.
Far from it. It was, as Mr. Verde from Enduring America correctly put, a pyrrhic victory. A quote from his piece is still very relevant:
So a Pyrrhic hypothesis: For any regime, especially one that claims to be a popular republic based on Islam, pointing TV cameras at the right-looking crowd while beating the “wrong crowd” with all its might, especially on the anniversary of its formation, is not a victory.
So let’s look at the crowd gathered in Birjand for Ahmadinejad’s most recent vitriol spewing, and let’s be realistic. This thing is FAR from over. The aspirations of the Iranian people will not go unheeded.