Iran

Iranian Student Protests

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Security forces and pro-government militiamen clashed with protesters shouting "death to the dictator" outside Tehran University on Monday, beating men and women with batons and firing tear gas, on a day of nationwide student demonstrations, witnesses said.

Thousands of protesters demonstrated in the streets outside the campus in support of students inside. As they chanted "death to the dictator," riot police and Basij militiamen charged the crowds, the witnesses said.

The plainclothes Basijis beat protesters on the heads and shoulders as the crowd scattered, then regrouped on nearby street corners. Nearby, protesters and Basijis pelted each other with stones, the witnesses said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

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One of the many problems with the U.S. invasion of Iraq is that it came at a time when grassroots opposition to the Iranian government was heating up and potentially leading to a popular overthrow of the Islamist government there. What a victory against forces of religious terror that might have been. But the U.S. pulled all support of such efforts in the run-up to invading Iraq.

Back in 2002, Charles Paul Freund wrote about the plight of Iranian academic Hashem Aghajari, one of the cases that triggered massive protests in Iran. Aghajari was sentenced to death for apostasy (can you believe it?) after declaring that Iranians should not blindly follow clerics. Due to the reaction to his sentence, he was only (!) imprisoned and fined, and eventually released in 2004.

Shortly after the invasion of Iraq, Jesse Walker wrote about the strength of Iranian civil society for USA Today.

When falls the Islamic Republic of Iran, a "liberationist" revolution that somehow managed to be even worse than the tyrannical regime it replaced? What ever the date, it will have likely been pushed back years by the Iraq war.