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The regime's ramparts are shaky Print E-mail


Dec 10th 2009
From The Economist print edition

Seven months after a disputed election, opposition to the clerical regime and its controversially re-elected president refuses to die


Reuters

EVER since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was returned to power in June’s dodgy election, protests have erupted in Iran at irregular intervals. The most recent was on December 7th, officially “Student Day”. Across the country, tens of thousands of demonstrators managed to evade the security forces, forcing a way out of the universities into the streets, where non-student protesters joined them. There were reports of hundreds of arrests and severe beatings by the feared baseej militia, which answers to the Revolutionary Guard, the Islamic regime’s armed bullies. In Tehran, the capital and hottest spot, on the day after the demonstration students in the university’s technical faculty were again attacked by plainclothes agents, and further arrests were made.

To the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and senior members of Iran’s panoply of security organs, this is all part of a “soft war”—of disinformation, sabotage and provocation—being waged on the regime by the nation’s enemies. Earlier this month a troupe of pro-government actors performed a grotesque re-enactment of the last moments of Neda Agha Soltan, whose death by police bullet on June 20th was watched on television across the world, to perpetuate the fiction that she was somehow murdered by Western powers. Speculation swirls around the death by poisoning of a doctor who served in a prison where opposition detainees were killed and tortured this summer. Shirin Ebadi, a human-rights lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize-winner who has criticised the regime from abroad, has been threatened with prosecution on charges of tax evasion if she dares to return home.