to find out what is going on in Iran. Since the June 12th presidential
elections resulted in what many consider to be the rigged re-election
of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, citizens of Iran have taken to the
streets and most importantly the internet to seek justice.
The use of social media has had such an impact that Youtube and Twitter are taking great steps to assure that folks reporting from Iran are spotlighted. Twitter pushed back a scheduled maintenance update that would have shut the site down for one hour until the wee ours of Iran’s Wednesday morning (2pm Pacific time here).
more impressive than Iranians use of the web to capture their
frustration with the system is what they are accomplishing during this
movement without social media. Text messaging and cell phone service
has been shut down by the government since Election Day. Internet
access is touch and go. Still, without the technological luxuries that
we can’t live without, an estimated 1 million supporters of Iranian
presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi rallied Monday.
The world watches, intrigued by the many possible
outcomes of the civil unrest. We hear from the people there, we see
their anger and sorrow. We applaud their courage. Still, there isn’t
much the world outside of Iran can do to rectify the situation. This
isn’t a problem that American can step in and mediate. Our comments on
videos showing the police beating non-violent protestors will do nothing to stop future attacks. Nonetheless, we are glued to the action for several reasons.
Americans we are puzzled by the idea that an election can be outright
corrupt. Sure we had our first real taste of an Election Day C-O-N-spiracy
in 2000 and the suspect ballot counting in Florida. The drama of Bush
vs Gore had America holding its breathe. Now imagine if every election
was like that. On election day, you’d be beaten on your way to vote by
henchmen hired to keep you away from the polls. How would you react if
you were told upon arriving to vote that there were no more ballots and
to go home? Not to say this doesn’t happen here, but not on the level
it happens elsewhere.
The power of the vote is what
some Iranians was hoping would swift their country into the modern era.
Presidential hopeful and main objector to the election’s outcome,Mir Hossein Mousavi ran on the platform of more personal freedom for citizens and women’s rights. President Ahmadinejad’s four year reign has resulted in loads of controversy from his disdain for America to Iran’s nuclear weapon program and his push for more Islamic state.
Can the outpouring of protest lead to a reversal in
Iran’s election results, or at least a recount? Would this even be a
topic of conversation if it had not been for the people of Iran taking
to the internet to be heard? The news in Iran is government controlled
so any news of unrest, protest, deaths, etc would’ve been swept under
What if Twitter and social media had been
around during other closely watched but not fully covered from the
ground events? Would JFKs killer been found, twitpic’d as he ran from
the grassy knoll? Would Rosa Park tweeted “I’m not getting up” before
she was removed by police? What video clips would have come out of
Vietnam, South Africa, the 1965 Watts riots?
What we are witnessing is historical.
world events are no longer lost in the fine print of newspapers or
collecting dust in textbooks. They were watchable on cell phones,
interactive on live feeds and in message boards. No other time has the
saying “power to the people” rang so true. Regardless of whether the
ballots are recounted and a new president is elected in Iran the events
that have transpired, the ground swell of unity and defiance of a
corrupt system is enough to encourage oppressed people everywhere.
And people said you couldn’t change the world with 140 characters or less.
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