We westerners have been so patronizing and condescending towards Middleeastern countries in the last few decades we had almost forgotten that they, like us, uphold the long-standing tradition of regular scheduling of people-sponsored freedom: democratic elections. The meaning of democracy and the extent to which it is applied varies from nation to nation, but the principle remains the same: the population decides who they trust enough to become their leaders, from a list of potential candidates supposedly representing various sides of the ideological spectrum. Whichever candidate gets the most votes win. It’s simple, it’s easy, it’s worked since the dawn of times in the countries politically secure enough to implement the process, and generally guarantees relative social satisfaction. Unless, of course, the result is not good enough for some, and is hi-jacked.

Hi-jacking election results is a concept probably born at the same time as elections themselves, since leading elites generally mistrust the people and its capacity to know what is best for the country. There is a general consensus among powers that be that the bewildered herd that we, little people, are, is hardly au fait of the struggles and nerve-wracking games of the political system and should therefore be left out of it. Should we be surprised that now that the United States are feeling confident enough to monitor Iran’s elections, the aftermath turns sour?

Tehran, shortly after the election results

Tehran, shortly after the election results

Iran has been the thorn in the United States Foreign Affairs’ side ever since its race to enriched uranium made it one of the most threatening nations in the Middle East, especially under the rule of Sarkozy-sized leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, conservative enough to earn Ayatollah Khomeini’s good graces, belligerent enough to infuriate the powers that be, powerful enough to make his threats a top priority in diplomatic relations. Alas, Iran hardly ever benefited from the sweet game of chess that international relations are, suffering from an embargo implemented under Reagan and only just relieved by President Obama, keen on trying new methods to rally Iran to the good cause of pretend democracy and political stability. Ahmadinejad, a fervent believer in the clash of civilizations, and staunch adversary to Israel, could care less of what Europeans and Americans think – his own agenda is pushing him closer and closer to severing any ties he’s had with the United Nations.

In that regard, Ahmadinejad was not the moderate, open-minded leader we us white privileged spin doctors had requested. Iran, proud of its revolutionary past, even more proud of its revolutionary and forward-thinking civilization, lifting their noses high at the ignorant calling them “arabs”, defied western culture, western beliefs, and more importantly, western imperialism. The problem lied in how they did it – by becoming a threat to security, a threat to human rights, and a threat to civil liberties. Ahmadinejad has perhaps more in common with the western world than he thinks. Election times coming, several candidates opposing the former president rose to the challenge, including Mossavi, a moderate, educated, politically-inclined former advisor. In Iran, every candidate must be validated by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeiny, whose preference for Ahmadinejad was hardly a secret.

From prohibiting the access to Facebook for fear of letting moderate candidates do some online canvassing, to coercing voters into picking the right candidate by bringing the army to voting booths, Iran did everything by the book to make this election illegitimate and completely unnecessary. There were times when former Presidents were too insecure about the results of forthcoming elections and would rather release a decree instauring them a lifelong position on top of the government. Ahmadinejad played the game, but tricked them, with the complicity of the Ayatollah, the police, but forgetting the most important key ingredient of all: popular support. Mind you, there is only so much oppression a population can take before the spark turns into fire, and Tehran is now facing another cultural and social revolution, of the utmost democratic kind.

In a world both fascinated and obsessed by the seemingly constant threat of terrorism, world leaders had forgotten the power of a popular uprising, and its undeniable capacity to overthrow governments. Too busy debating the alleged necessity of torture in pseudo-philosophical terms, and too self-absorbed to contemplate the decay of the social and economic fabric right underneath their soundproof windows, nothing but a brick could have awaken them to the harsh reality of revolution. Ahmadinejad claimed over 62% of the vote. The population – around 75 percent of the country’s 46.2 million eligible voters, according to MSNBC – heavily supported Mossavi, and wants to be heard. If the process of democracy is simple, so is the context surrounding the abrupt and obnoxious loss of democratic values: it becomes the most threatening incentive for violence. Hell hath no fury as a cheated people’s scorn.

If anyone believed that the sudden popular outburst would convince Ahmadinejad to back down, and the Council to investigate a possible fraud, they were deadly wrong, as Ahmadinejad’s first move as a reconducted president was to indulge into a vast array of several law enforcement decrees violating every liberty in the book, starting with putting his opponent under house arrest, raiding the offices of newspapers Green Word and Etemademelli, and arresting the head of the Islamic Iran Participation Front.  What will happen to the journalists caught in the descent is not yet known, but imaginations are running wild, and they have every right to do so: if it looks like a coup, smells like a coup, and sheds as much blood as a coup, chances are you are in the presence of an illegitimate, coercive, and liberticide government.

It is now Sunday evening, temperatures are rising all over Western Europe, and if you live in Iran, stay in hiding, we will shortly contact you… if we remember.

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