More election protests are expected today in Iran. Some say the massive show of support for the opposition candidate signals a revolution in the making.
Hamid Dabashi, a professor of Iranian studies at Columbia University, doesn’t quite see it that way. He spoke to John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Monday.
John Roberts: Let me ask you first of all, the declaration from the Guardian Council that yes it appears there were some voting irregularities; some three-million more votes were cast than people eligible to vote, but at the same time they say it wouldn't affect the overall outcome of the election. What effect do you think that will have on the demonstrators today?
Dabashi: Well it simply acknowledges that there are certain irregularities as Mr. Moussavi and other opposition candidates have indicated. To what degree this will satisfy Moussavi’s camp and other oppositional figures remains to be seen. In his Friday sermon, Mr. Khamenei in effect prejudiced the decision of the Guardian Council by siding completely with Ahmadinejad and saying that his position is very close to me. So I don't believe whatever the conclusion of this particular round of calculations by the Guardian Council might be is going to have much effect on the demonstrations…
These scenes you're seeing coming from Iran…it is important for your audience to know the reason you see these scenes of confusion and chaos is these people have been denied their constitutional right for peaceful protest. Under Article 27 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic, Iranians are entitled to peaceful protests and not even under the condition of so-called national security are they to be denied their constitutional rights. So it is really the custodians of the Islamic Republic who are in violation of their constitutional right rather than the other way around.
Roberts: The street actions as you see them, are they a revolution in the making as many people think they might be, or do you see them as something else?
Dabashi: No. On the surface of them, on the look of them, they are very similar to the events that were happening in 1979, the commencement of the Islamic Revolution. But in my judgment this is not a revolution. This is the closest thing that we have had in Iran to the Civil Rights Movement of the United States. So you have to zoom back and look at it - pull yourself back to 1955, Montgomery bus boycott and have a larger frame of reference. These people are not after regime change. All their protests are within the boundaries of law. Repeatedly, the leader Moussavi has emphasized they are only after their constitutional rights and they simply have lost trust in the way their elected officials or unelected officials are tabulating these numbers.
Roberts: On Friday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei seemed to come down firmly on the side of Ahmadinejad. Ali Larajani, the parliamentary speaker, seems to have disagreed somewhat with Khamenei, saying he doesn't think the Guardian Council should be coming down on the side of one candidate. Now Larajani has had his disagreements with Ahmadinejad, but he has been an ally of Khamenei. Is this a significant split that we’re seeing now between Larajani and Khamenei?
Dabashi: Excellent point. But I don't believe so. The way that the upper-echelon of the Islamic Republic operates, the speaker of the house Larajani, is in fact an ally of Khamenei. So what we are witnessing, Khamenei has in fact planted a voice inside the opposition so he has everything under control. One of the three oppositional candidates also, Mr. Rezaie, has a mild contestation so far as the result of the election is concerned.
…We’re beginning to tap into the way the upper-echelon of the Islamic Republic operates. Khamenei himself comes out Friday morning and gives a very belligerent speech and says blood will be shed and it is on the hands of the opposition, particularly Moussavi. But then a close ally of him, namely Mr. Larajani the speaker of the house, comes and sides slightly, ever so moderately with the opposition.
Roberts: So you think it's a case of “good cop, bad cop”?