• 21 December 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Iran Election 2009

The Significance of Today’s Events


Copyright AP

The hardline newspaper Kayhan reported that there were "a maximum of 5000" in the crowd mourning Montazeri's death. (h/t enduringamerica.com)


Today clearly breathed new life into Iran’s opposition movement. Opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi both took the risk and attended alongside countless other mourners. (Mousavi’s convoy was reportedly attacked en-route back to Tehran by plain-clothed security officials who cut off the convoy and bashed in a window of one of the cars and injured one of Mousavi’s bodyguards.) 

Khamenei issued a rather insulting statement of condolence, which the NY Times reports sparked boos, chants of “we do not want rationed condolences” and “death to the dictator” from the crowd of mourners in Qum. Khamenei’s statement follows:

“We have become informed that the sublime jurisprudent Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri has departed this life. He was a competent religious authority and a prominent expert and many students attended his classes. A long portion of his life had been dedicated to the movement of the revered and great Imam (Khomeini), and he strived and suffered hardships on this path. In the last years of the Imam’s life, he (Montazeri) was faced with a difficult test. I ask Almighty God to forgive him through His mercy and to accept the hardships suffered during his life as atonement. I extend my condolences to his bereaved wife and children and ask God to bestow forgiveness and mercy upon him.”

While the Iranian government managed to successfully block BBC Persian service into Iran, another critical audience couldn’t possibly miss what happened today. One of the readers at the New York Times’ The Lede put it best: 

Qom is in many ways the heart of the last Revolution (how it ended up anyway) and its aftermath. Until now, the regime has tried very very hard to isolate Qom from the protest movement. The security presence there has always been reported as very high to prevent any protests. […] With today’s protests in Qom, and the clergy’s close-up view of it (perhaps for the first time for some of them) it will be interesting to see what the Qom clergy does in the days and weeks to come.

The next day to watch is Sunday, when two major days of mourning coincide: the day of mourning for Ayatollah Montazeri (the seventh day after his death) and the religious holiday of Ashura, which marks the martyrdom of the Imam Hossein.

Posted By David Elliott

David Elliott is the Assistant Policy Director at the National Iranian American Council.

    8 Responses to “The Significance of Today’s Events”

  1. Rob 1 says:

    A maximum of ‘5,000’? Does Pirouz the american basiji work for Kayhan newspaper? This government and its minions are beyond delusional. It’s all a vicious circle of lies and deception. They lie to others and lie to themselves to keep this shame alive for a little while longer. God willing, it will all be over soon.

  2. Pirouz says:

    I get accused of that a lot, unfortunately. Just because I remain skeptical of the “rigged” election claims, give credence to the WPO Iran poll results and point out the relative strength of the pro-establishment forces over anti-establishment elements, that somehow makes me an “American basij” or a terrorist supporter or whatever. You know I’m not. You may not like what I have to say, but that’s no reason for name calling, or stating positions falsely attributed to me.

    C’mon, Rob1, there’s a lot of questionable claims and reporting out there. Recall the false story of Taraneh Mousavi, and the recently published (Gooya) fake statement by members of the Artesh (armed forces) against the IRGC- just to name a couple.

    My advice is a moderate approach. Keep an open mind. And maintain a level of respect for those that don’t necessarily share your (radical) viewpoint.

  3. Iranian-American says:

    As I have pointed out previously, and will continue to point out, the reason readers of your comments have come to the conclusion that you must support the regime, is because many of your claims are becoming increasingly laughable to anyone who knows anything about what is going on in Iran.

    It is laughable that you are skeptical about everything that supports the opposition’s claims, from polls to accounts of torture, and yet show no skepticism towards a WPO poll- a poll conducted by telephone calls from the United States, coming out of the blue, to a household in Iran, made amidst post-election conflict in which there is a presumption that phone conversations may be under surveillance by a government known to arrest, torture and kill citizens who protest against the regime. Furthermore, while I have a high opinion of the worldpublicopinion.org, the results of the WPO poll are simply not consistent with what we are seeing in Iran.

    This is only one example. In general, you are overly skeptical of any anti-establishment claims, and blindly and ignorantly repeat the Iran’s governments claims without questioning them. Recall this is the same Iranian government that clearly has something to hide as demonstrated by its need to ban all foreign media from reporting on post-election protests, claims of torture and rape, and interviews with families of victims. For such a skeptical person, you sure do eat up everything the Iranian government wants people to believe.

    This has, not surprisingly, left many readers to come to the conclusion that you must be a supporter of this regime. Furthermore, the hypocrisy of your selective skepticism, insults the intelligence of the reader. IMHO- this is why you are witnessing name calling (e.g. “American Basij”).

  4. Pirouz says:

    I disagree. It’s only the fact that I do not embrace wholeheartedly the claims of the opposition and the ongoing trend toward radicalization.

    Remember, I-A, I voted Green in the June election. How many of my detractors even bothered to vote? Did you?

    I’m not parroting all the government claims. The closest I come is taking into consideration a few of the counterclaims (which appear reasonable) from the June election.

    If you need a punching bag against someone that provides a level of skepticism – a devil’s advocate, if you will- then so be it.

    However, the same type of knee-jerk reactions by some of these commenters are getting quite tedious- wouldn’t you agree?

    And remember I-A, no matter how you much you may hate hearing this, I’ve seen similar (not identical) situations like this in my lifetime right here in the USA. So accept, reject or discuss- but emotional rants and name calling? One should definitely rise above such things. Especially in commentary within a shared social group’s commentary.

  5. Rob 1 says:

    Pirouz, we have seen you exhibit your “open” mind and “moderate” approach by casually dismissing everything the Green movement has done. And at the same time you pretend to have voted Green. Just like the regime, you are under the illusion that people are gullible enough to fall for your deceptions and ridiculous comparisons.

    If supporting freedom of speech, freedom of press, an open democratic society and opposing government sponsored rape, torture and murder is a radical viewpoint than paint me a radical.

    You deserve nothing less than namecalling. In my opinion, you are worst type of Iranian. You enjoy all the freedom western society offers yet fully support the repressive tyrannical actions of the IRI. We know people like you around here. They’re a disgrace. As soon as the regime falls, they’ll do a 180.

  6. Iranian-American says:

    Again, it’s not the fact that you do not embrace wholeheartedly the claims of the opposition, rather it is that you do embrace wholeheartedly the claims of a government that is known to be dishonest and repressive. I encourage you to reflect on your previous posts, because this is something that I would argue is fairly clear from your comments.

    Also, as Rob points out, how “radical” this movement is depends on the observer. The only evidence of so called radicalization that I have heard is a (suspect) claim that protestors burned a picture of Khomeni. Perhaps, this is radical in Iran, but in developed, wealthy, free and respected nations, this is not so “radical”. Neither is freedom of speech and press. This idea may seem radical to you, but many of us Iranians have high hopes for Iran.

    I did vote for Mousavi for this election, but I do not see how my vote, your “detractors'” votes or yours have anything to do with this discussion. This seems to be your fall-back when backed into a corner.

    I would insist that I have never treated you like a “punching bag”. I have only pointed out your rather obvious selective skepticism, and provided you with an explanation as to why you may find you run into the same kind of responses from many people.

    I’m honestly not sure what “knee-jerk” reaction you are referring to. I wholeheartedly believe this movement has turned out to be much larger than anyone anticipated. That is not to say I expect a revolution in the next year, but it does provide some hope that Iran will in my lifetime come out of isolation, be respected among nations and have a leader that an educated and decent person can be proud of.

    I do not mind hearing your comparisons to America. I pointed out the absurdity of your comparisons for your own sake. To be honest, I think you are trying to convince yourself more than anyone else, which is good because I really don’t think anyone else will buy it. I have a very similar feeling when I hear Ahmadinejad make similar comments. E.g. when he says, “Iran is the most free country in the world” I can not honestly believe that he believes what he is saying. Who knows, I could be wrong…

  7. Eric says:

    Had circumstance put Pirouz in Iran today I have no doubt he’d be riding around a moped with a fancy new helmet beating defenseless women with a stick and proceeding to stick that stick up young men’s behinds. He probably has a photo of the dictator and his little henchman ahmadi in his room.

  8. Survivor's Guilt says:

    Pirouz…this movement in Iran is not about US vs. Iran. It is completely domestic. Let it go with the America and Iran comparisons. Both countries are in different stages on a global scale.

    I also do not think it is right to start doing the whole ‘i voted green, where were you’ and so on. Please do not forget that you are in the United States and away from the radical extremes and violence. It is only human to feel a little survivor’s guilt. Most of us have shown such concerns and feelings, yet you continue to show no signs of such.

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Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

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Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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