Tuesday, July 07, 2009

What the hell just happened in Iran?

It's not entirely clear what the impact will be, but Christopher Hitchens says the recent statement by the Association of Teachers and Researchers of Qum, a much-respected source of religious rulings, to the effect that the recent elections in Iran were a sham, is a big deal:
''It's not too much to read two things into the association's statement. The first is that public discontent with the outrages of the last few weeks must be extremely deep and extremely widespread. Differences among the clerisy are usually solved in much more discreet ways. If the Shiite scholars of Qum are willing to go public and call the Ahmadinejad regime an impostor, they must be impressed with the intensity of feeling at the grass roots. The second induction follows from the first: It is not an exaggeration to say that the Islamic republic in its present form is now undergoing a serious crisis of legitimacy.''
Of course, I can't possibly claim to know if the elections were rigged, as so many Iranians believe, or not. However, my point all along has been that, fair elections or not, when a state takes to shooting its protesters in the street because they criticize election results, they no longer get to call themselves a 'democracy'. The 'serious crisis of legitimacy' is entirely self-inflicted. There's nobody to blame but themselves- not that this will likely stop the arrests, beatings, and so forth. But, it's increasingly hard to see any chance that this will all end with the current Ayatollah and President having a long and peaceful time in power. Stay tuned.

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