Roger Cohen in Tehran: "I don't know where this uprising is leading."

Snip from a New York Times op-ed by Roger Cohen, who is in Tehran.
The Iranian police commander, in green uniform, walked up Komak Hospital Alley with arms raised and his small unit at his side. "I swear to God," he shouted at the protesters facing him, "I have children, I have a wife, I don't want to beat people. Please go home."

A man at my side threw a rock at him. The commander, unflinching, continued to plead. There were chants of "Join us! Join us!" The unit retreated toward Revolution Street, where vast crowds eddied back and forth confronted by baton-wielding Basij militia and black-clad riot police officers on motorbikes.

Dark smoke billowed over this vast city in the late afternoon. Motorbikes were set on fire, sending bursts of bright flame skyward. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, had used his Friday sermon to declare high noon in Tehran, warning of "bloodshed and chaos" if protests over a disputed election persisted.

He got both on Saturday -- and saw the hitherto sacrosanct authority of his office challenged as never before since the 1979 revolution birthed the Islamic Republic and conceived for it a leadership post standing at the very flank of the Prophet.

A Supreme Leader Loses His Aura as Iranians Flock to the Streets (NYT, via Mitch Kapor)


  1. @mackenzi, in all fairness, I took that line out of context — that wasn’t the title of the piece, or the thrust of the piece. But it was frank, honest, and conveyed the sentiment of a lot of people who, like Cohen, are well-versed in the politics and daily context of what’s going on in Iran.

  2. That started to read like a fiction novel. I had to remind myself that the people in that story are real, their pain is real, not some faraway imagination in some faraway place.

    It’s so odd to feel like you want to/have to/need to do something but there’s nothing you can do to help. This is someone else’s fight and they’re the only ones who can fight it. Or is it?

    I feel so sad. It’s so utterly sad when living creatures suffer.

  3. Thanks for the flow of thoughtful information, Xeni. My heart goes out to the citizens I’ve always had high hopes for. The citizens of Iran.

  4. I hope that we are seeing history being made. Like the Berlin Wall, like the slow, but inevitable death of Communism. My prayers are with the Iranian people.

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