Though the crowds in Tehran may have dwindled over the last few days, the fervor of the Iranian people has not waned.
On Friday, the “Supreme Leader,” Ayatollah Khamenei, issued a warning to put an end to the demonstrations. Supporters of President Ahmadinejad’s administration crowded the University of Tehran’s mosque in solidarity but opposition leaders and their supporters stood in defiance and flooded the streets once more. The Ayatollah Khamenei publicly rejected the notion that the elections were anything but fair, yet his insistence has failed to placate the people of Iran. Instead, it seemed to give them more reason to assert themselves and fight against the regime for democracy.
Social media have continued to play a vital role in the events of the last several days. In response to its importance, the US State Department asked Twitter to reschedule its maintenance service to ensure that critical information from Iran could surge out of the country. Twitter has since changed its maintenance schedule to ensure it takes place in the middle of the night in that time zone. What used to transpire over the course of days now happens in minutes. Digital downtime is not an option.
In light of the Ayatollah’s hard-line stance to block all media, especially social media and digital channels, and with more violence erupting hourly, (such as militia destroying computers at Tehran University) it has been essential to find conduits for communication. The BBC, singled out by the Iranian regime as an instigator of the unrest, has enlisted two additional satellites for its Farsi-language channel to ensure it can be broadcast to and viewed by Iranians.
Perhaps the most powerful event in recent days has been one that was first broadcast on YouTube by an Iranian citizen on a mobile phone and then picked up by other media channels worldwide. A young woman called Neda, brutally gunned down on the streets of Tehran whilst in peaceful protest with her music teacher, has become a symbol of Iran’s struggle, an involuntary martyr of the movement. The broadcast has caused a media stir and much controversy, her name is a lead topic on Twitter and it has raised a new awareness of what Iranians are fighting for. Reza Pahlavi, the former crown prince of Iran, was quoted today stating that the election was a complete fraud. He wept when he spoke of Iran’s beloved Neda, and said firmly that Iranians will not stand for this.
The movement, he said, “may not succeed immediately, it may have ebbs and flows, but I assure you, it will not die. Because we will not let it die.”
Now that the entire world is privy to these events, and is watching them emerge in real time, will the Ayatollah and the Ahmadinejad Administration be able to maintain their hold? Many people of Iran apparently believe not. We will have to wait… and hope that freedom is on the horizon.
Follow TEN: @agencyTEN