Iranian-born author and journalist Amir Taheri has recently elaborated on the democracy movement's varied nature. Writing on Townhall.com, he reports that democratic sympathies in Iran extend from the working class to the intellectual elite, and include the nearly two-thirds of the Iranian parliament (Majlis) that have petitioned "to transform Iran from a despotic-theocratic regime into a democratic one."
There's more. "Over the past six months," Mr. Taheri writes, "Iran has witnessed dozens of industrial strikes in which urban workers have come out with exactly the same demands as the students. ... There have been a series of strikes by teachers, including one last month that closed 50 per cent of the schools for several days. In the past three weeks, sections of the traditional bazaars in Tabriz, Rasht, Isfahan and Shiraz have also organized one-day shutdowns in solidarity with the students."
Even more stunning is this: According to Mr. Taheri, "the Shiite clerical establishment is broadly supportive of the pro-democracy movement." In addition to lesser clerics and theology students, Mr. Taheri reports that three Grand Ayatollahs -- Hassan Tabatabi Qomi, Hussein-Ali Montazeri and Muhammad Sadeq Ruhani -- have publicly called for an end to what Mr. Taheri labels the "Khomeinist tyranny." "So strong is the clerical opposition," he writes, "that the 'Supreme Guide' Ali Khamenehi has been unable to visit Qom, the theological center of Shiism for almost a year."
Little wonder, then, that Ali Khamenehi's goons (also Shiite) still troll the campuses, as Mr. Ledeen reports, "arresting and imprisoning all those believed capable of mobilizing a national uprising against the failed regime." And little wonder government authorities have ordered Tehran University's main campus to close from July 7 to 14 to shut down further anti-regime protests.
Will it work? "I appreciate those courageous souls who speak out for freedom in Iran," President Bush said last month. "They need to know America stands squarely by their side. And I would urge the Iranian administration to treat them with the utmost of respect."
Iranian president Muhammad Khatami maintains that Mr. Bush's praise for the dissidents has only united Iranians behind the country's theocratic dictatorship. If so, you'd think Mr. Khatami would call for more of the same, and louder, from the White House. Of course, he won't. But the rest of us should. Maybe then it would be easier, in the end, to remember the Ninth of July.