Sunday, July 5, 2009

Street Images Gone But Iranian Struggle Continues

While more people are switching from traditional news sources to the Internet, most of us are still relying on television to bring us our daily dose of information. And television coverage is dependent on images.

As the smuggled images from the streets of Iran have diminished, as a result of both an electronic and physical crackdown on the demonstrators, so to has coverage of the struggle there. Add to that the nearly omnipresent coverage of Michael Jackson's death and, well, it's increasingly hard for the reformists to keep their struggle in front of us.

But that doesn't mean the pressure on the regime has suddenly gone away. There are indications that the very authority of Iran's supreme leader is being challenged. And not just by students on the street and presidential candidates who believe their votes were taken away from them. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is being challenged by leading Iranian clerics.

This would be akin to the Roman Catholic cardinals and bishops openly challenging the pope. Because, like the pope in matters of faith, in Iran, the supreme leader's decisions are supposed to be final.

Meanwhile, opposition candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi has published on his web site what purports to be documents proving voter fraud in an election that thrusted incumbent Pres. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad back into office by a wide margin.

The students may not have the political or real muscle to topple the regime. And maybe after all this is over the fundamentalists still will maintain control of the nation. But this open defiance of Khamenei is a significant development. It shows that, whether he recognizes it or not, the political landscape of Iran is now changed forever.

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