In the U.S., several university commencements were held today. Outside my window, college graduates and their families are celebrating and looking forward to their futures.
Iran is not celebrating tonight. Iranians are participating in protests and riots. Iranians are waiting for the police to search their homes, looking for satellites to seize. Iranians are trying to get their Facebook and cell phone access to work. Iranians are going to bed tonight hoping that tomorrow will bring change.
Living outside of Iran carries varying degrees of “diaspora guilt” for many Iranians. Guilt that we don’t have to go through the perennial annoyances, inconveniences, and fears that Iranians in Iran deal with all the time. Guilt that we’re fairly powerless to do anything about the Iranian government, which we all seem to hate so much. Guilt that we don’t get our papers in order to vote during the biggest elections since Khatami’s in 1997.
There is a lot of guilt tonight, but that guilt is overshadowed by larger feelings of fear and worry. Though the mainstream media in the U.S. isn’t covering it, you can bet Twitter’s #IranElections thread is buzzing with news of Mousavi’s house arrest, internet shutoffs, cell phone and SMS blocking, police seizures, riots, and rumors of a coup d’ etat by Ahmadinejad.
Seventy percent of Iran’s population will turn 30 this year, and have no memories of the Islamic revolution during or after which they were born. To this 70%, revolution may not seem like such a bad idea after growing up in a system that dictates their public behavior and regulates their private lives. Mousavi (and his wife Dr. Zahra Rahnavard) spoke to the under-30s; despite the fact that he was Iran’s prime minister in the newly-formed Islamic Republic, his platform was one of economic and social reform, with welcomed calls for expanded women’s rights from his wife.
Before officials shut down internet access and declared Ahmadinejad the winner, Mousavi had taken a large lead in the ballots. Iran’s masses wanted change. Yesterday, they attempted to take it with their ballots. Now they will take it with their protests on the streets and on the web.
Iran is not celebrating tonight, but here’s hoping it is in the process of graduating from an unjust system to a brighter future. May God watch over Iran.