Day 22, 11.2, Wednesday
February 11th is the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in 1979. At 7am I got up and went with Anahit and another German student to Enghelab, to be part of the celebration/parade. The streets in Velenjak and Tajrish have never been this empty. Even the metro was quite empty. This changed when we reached the connecting station between the red (1) and yellow (4) line. The metros were fuller than during rush-hour in Moscow so I had to let the first metro go. It was impossible to get out at the two stations on the way to Enghelab. In Enghelab we waited for quite a time for Zhenya and a Dutch friend of the other German. While waiting at the entrance the first pictures of us were taken. When Anahit and Zhenya arrived and we joined the parade, the Dutch guy got cold feet and went home.
Last year three students were captured by police and everyone told us to be cautious, so I didn’t wear my yellow jacket. But how was the celebration like?
I would describe it a demonstration with the flair of a fair. Apparently the main fairground was the square around Azadi tower. I was there when everything was over after three hours. The students of last year were said to be there. From Azadi Avenue the people marched westbound towards the tower.
At the kerbside were many stands. They offered information, free food and drinks, choir sang, music was played or mullahs held speeches. You could get many different posters. Apart from the usual ones about USA and Israel, the slogans were “We resist forever”, “We stand to the end”, “Independence, Freedom – Islamic Republic”, “Dead or Khomeini – written with my own blood”, “I am the revolution”, “I love Mohammed. I hate terrorism, I condemn insulting the holy prophets” as well as pictures of Khomeini and Khamenei and of course the Iranian flag. Since it was a rainy day, the main function of the posters soon started being rain coverages. From time to time you could hear “Marg bar Amerika/Israel”, but more often “Allah u akbar” or something related with Khomeini; though surprisingly seldom. The people didn’t dress more conservative than usual, even some women’s hair could be seen. There were many families. In general it was a bizarre sight. Often in front of same stands offering food or drinks for fee tumults started. As if the great duo Khomeini/Khamenei couldn’t feed their people – like Kim Jong Un, but concerning this topic maybe later…
A few times photographers but especially youths took pictures of us.
And what should one think about all this? In my opinion this event has several aspects. First it should secure the power of the leader with the help of the public proclamation and reminder of their enemies USA, Israel and the West in general. They appeal for resistance, resisting, they call upon the power endurance of the people to overcome the temptations of the West. They, and only they, are able to lead safe and to their satisfaction through these hard times.
But the bait has already been taken: Apple, Microsoft, Google, Nestle, Danone, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche have won the hearts of many Iranians. For them, if they participate, the celebration is a possibility to “party”. They don’t care about slogans and posters, don’t give them any importance. Now the second aspects becomes visible: It’s like a football fanfest (I have always been on the ones in Berlin). The opponent is insulted badly as well, even without any reason:
“[country] is shitty, [country] is scum; it only needs one little bomb and they are gone.” and for sure there are more
Most of the people sing it, but no-one would honestly consider to wipe them out. Most important is team spirit, some teasing when the enemy is in the defence and having a huge party that of course involves the opponent fans. Apart from some idiots the party is peaceful (naturally as long as the German team is winning. Otherwise the number of idiots increases).
Just for a few times we were looked at oddly, the other times either ignored or smiled at. One situation was funny, when a man welcomes me in Iran, because the celebration doesn’t show the “real” Iran at all but critics are able to find enough arguments to demonize the country and its apparently fanatic people.
Although I want to mention, that I’m not agreeing with “Death to America/Israel” slogans even if it’s not meant to happen to the people. I mostly disagree with their foreign policy, too. Though as memory I couldn’t resist to take one poster home.
In the end I took the taxi home, since it still rained and I met Anahit by chance. It was only 13000 Rial (32 Euro cents) and may have change my picture of going by taxi can only be expensive.
This is what critics want to hear (I don’t know, what he’s saying, but it sounds menacing and hardline religious):