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‘The Islamic Government’

A former minister in the reformist government of Mohammed Khatami just posted on Mir Hossein Moussavi’s Website — which I suppose is unblocked for the moment — that the Islamic Republic is over. Like over, over. The National Iranian American Council’s blog translates:

A friend called who with a shaking voice asked me for an explanation on what is happening in Iran, in our country.

I said, the Supreme Leader has decided to replace the Islamic Republic with an Islamic government and that we all have to participate in this “great celebration” and be “deeply happy…”

These young people who are being beaten in the streets of Tehran and other provinces, whose faces look stunned, Mr. Mousavi and fighting clergies who issue statements, think it is possible to protect the Republic and the people’s votes. It is very clear to me that 22 Khordad 1388, four months after the revolution turned 30, the time of Republic has come to an end in our country. Ahmadinejad, with confirmation of the Supreme Leader, has obtained the necessary votes and won. Congratulations on this victory…Although no celebration happens without victims and the bigger the celebration, the larger the number of casualties…

22 Bahman was the beginning of the Islamic Revolution and 22 Khordad is the beginning of the Islamic Government.

My friend started crying louder; bitterly crying.

Notice what’s happening here. The opposition to Ahmadinejad is portraying him and his supporters as a corrupting figure, eating the Islamic Revolution at its core. They’re portraying themselves as somewhere on the spectrum of reformists and restorationists. I wish I remembered my Crane Brinton better for a more precise taxonomy. But this is what Iranian human rights activists in the United States mean when they point out that a crucial weapon in the protesters’ arsenal is their claim of authenticity. If they’re supplying a reformist definition for the mantle of the *true *Islamic Revolution, with a demagogue like Ahmadinejad as a usurper, that won’t solve all of the U.S.’s problems with Iran by a long shot. But it does open up the prospect of real, substantive dialogue if they win.

I have no real information here, so take everything that follows with an ocean of salt. But I wonder if the fear of losing control of the Islamic Revolution itself is what drove Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to reverse his initial endorsement of Ahmadinejad’s election and order an inquiry into voter fraud.

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