By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Last June, it was riveting to watch the people of Iran protesting sham election results in the streets of Tehran. Over the holidays—Sunday, December 27 was the height of the uprising—it seemed the tide started to turn. The crisis seemed to turn both darker and more hopeful at the same time. Opposition leader Mousavi's nephew was murdered, his wife was arrested, and he understandably began to discuss his own death. The best photo of the day was taken by AFP of a lone protestor facing a mob of heavily-armed riot police with only a stone in his hand, a shot which was eerily reminiscent of that famous one from Tiananmen Square of a similar lone protestor standing in front of a phalanx of tanks.
The best—and about the only—place I've seen round-the-clock tweets and YouTube feeds from Iran is on Andrew Sullivan's blog. In the midst of last weekend's coverage, Sullivan made a good point: why are conservatives ignoring this story? It's somewhat understandable that President Obama has stayed relatively quiet, as he did in June, so as not to give Ayatollah Khamenei the ability to say that the Great Satan is on the side of the people. But why would conservatives not be cheering on the brave men and women who are facing down his regime and the police who are refusing to fire into crowds of innocent citizens? It seems like only a matter of time before the security forces completely lose their nerve and the government collapses. Why not be on the side of freedom for these men and women who are clearly fighting tyranny? Isn't that what conservatives have always stood for? Why not say so and be on the right side of history?
What's really fascinating is the role of Iranian women over the last year. Neda Soltan became an international icon after being shot on the street in Tehran--but there are many, many more women like her willing to give their lives for freedom. One Iranian womens' rights leader, Shirin Ebadi, wrote recently in the London Guardian: "Women are at the forefront of this struggle, well aware that they will obtain equality only within a truly democratic political order." Their resistance to repression could be a turning point for women within their society and within Islam as a whole. We should all be rooting for them.