After nearly a year of organized popular strikes and demonstrations against the Shah, Iran’s Islamic Revolution triumphed 31 years ago this week. Being a fetus at the time, however, I have no memory of this defining historical moment in my homeland, despite the fact that it directly determined the direction of my future.
Were it not for the Islamic Revolution and the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq War that followed it, I’d likely be writing this from an apartment in Tehran instead of Atlanta. Yet, here I am, among the millions of others within the Iranian diaspora, floating between worlds and looking to the past in the hopes of helping build a new future for Iran.
The Islamic Revolution brought Iran enormous hope and promise in 1979. Unfortunately, however, it never fully lived up to that promise. While, in many ways, it liberated Iranians from the shackles of overt Western imperialism, it did so only to ultimately bind them again in the equally oppressive shackles of religious extremism.
Today, the toddlers, fetuses and unborn masses of 1979, who now constitute more than 70 percent of the Iranian population, have finally come of age, and they are determined to break the chains that have bound and defined their generation for over three decades.
This Thursday, Iranians are planning to commemorate Revolution Day in an unprecedented way: with demonstrations that promise to eerily resemble those of the 1979 revolution.
The pro-democracy Green movement that developed this past June in opposition to the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has taken on a life of its own over the past eight months. The movement began as a call for fair elections and was defined by the question and catchphrase “Where is my vote?”
Today, however, that initial inquiry has become a call to action. Iranians are no longer asking where their votes have gone. They are asking where their country has gone.
The government crackdown has, according to many reports, claimed more than a hundred lives, landed hundreds more in prison at the very least and wounded countless other civilians. It has also fatally wounded the Islamic Republic and provided the proverbial last straw that may very well break the regime’s back.
As the children of the Islamic Revolution have grown into young adults, popular discontent has grown exponentially within Iranian society. The high inflation and unemployment rates have been a source of significant frustration for years. Prostitution and human trafficking have become increasing concerns. And perhaps most notably, the morality laws regarding dress, dating and general social comportment have begun to seriously cramp the style of an ever-growing teen and young-adult population within the country. Unsurprisingly, illegal drug use inIran (particularly of a condensed form of heroin known inside the country as “crack”) has also skyrocketed over the past several years, reflecting a popular hunger for escapism.
It’s hard not to notice that “crack” isn’t just the name of the latest, most addictive and popular drug in Iran today. It’s also a highly unsubtle metaphor for the state of modern Iran: cracking at the seams with each new government crackdown.
Young Iranians have long been looking for an escape route, and this summer provided a new opportunity, a new drug. The opiate of our parents’ generation has let us down, and in the hopes of reclaiming both our nation and our faith, Iranians all over the world are now backing a new fight for independence, and the contact high is rapidly spreading around the world.