Iranian Dissident Says Planned March Will Test Regime
Since Tehran is painting events in
For the Iranian opposition, events in
“Any kind of event that involves the rise of the people and the fight against dictatorship in the Muslim world and in the Arab world is in our benefit,” said Mr. Karroubi, 72, speaking in Persian from his home, where he is largely isolated. “Next Monday will be a test for the Green movement — if the government issues a permit, there will be a huge demonstration and it will show how alive the Green movement is.”
Both sides in
But events in one can echo in the other. For instance,
Mr. Karroubi, a former presidential candidate and Parliament speaker, said that all the news in the official Iranian media tends to highlight statements from Islamic organizations and focus on Western concerns that the Muslim Brotherhood is about to triumph in Egypt. Hence the pressure on the Iranian government to allow the protest march through downtown
“If they are not going to allow their own people to protest, it goes against everything they are saying, and all they are doing to welcome the protests in
Some analysts and opposition members criticized the planned march and suggested that the government was unlikely to issue a permit, further demoralizing the movement. It is also unclear how many people might turn out, and there is some sense that the Green movement lacks the kind of clear aims that inspired protesters in
“There is no consensus in the Iranian opposition of what they are trying to achieve — is it the reform of the Islamic republic, the end of the Islamic republic?” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It is tough to recruit people to the street for ambiguous ends.”
Mr. Karroubi, while conceding that public activism had faded in the face of a harsh crackdown, said the Greens were still working for the kinds of basic rights they have always sought
The movement has tried to highlight the incongruity between the Iranian government’s oppression at home and the fact that it welcomes political protests elsewhere.
The Web site of Mir Hussein Moussavi, the other main opposition leader, recently displayed two pictures side by side. One showed the Egyptian police beating a protester, while the other was a similar photo of
Mr. Karroubi said he was living under near house arrest, with two or three cars full of guards outside his house for most of the day, turning many visitors away. He had not talked with a foreign journalist in about six months, he said, although he has occasionally answered questions via e-mail. For the video interview, he wrapped a headset around the back of his neck because it would not fit over his white turban.
Mr. Karroubi said he was able to plan the call for a protest with Mr. Moussavi because the two had met recently at a wake, but otherwise they have had limited contact. They have not decided yet whether a march through downtown
Should the young Egyptian protesters succeed in fomenting change, that would bring added pressure on the Iranian government, Mr. Karroubi said. It would mean that both
“It will show that
Still, he noted that while a failure of Arab protests would be a setback for the Greens, the reform movement would still continue.
“It could have a bad effect in
Artin Afkhami contributed reporting from
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