Reading the news about Iran, you're likely to miss its biggest story — the story that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently said was part of a "soft war," and the reason the regime refuses to allow foreign journalists to leave their offices for the next three days. That is, the story of the Iranian people, as opposed to that of their increasingly militant and illegitimate government.
This is the story that the self-proclaimed Islamic Republic wants us to ignore, and this is the story that the Iranian people refuse to let us ignore. It is the story of a new breed of revolution, speaking a new revolutionary language — the international language of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google Translate, anonymous blogs and meticulously rerouted servers. It's a language that neither the 70-year-old Supreme Leader nor the great majority of Iran's current leadership can even begin to understand.
For over a month, Iranians have been preparing for today, officially known as National Students Day, which promises to bring out protesters en masse.
These young revolutionaries — "Greens" — are using proxy servers to circumvent the thousands of government blocks on international Web sites. They're uploading media within hours, sometimes minutes, from cell phones to YouTube, as evidence of ongoing protests. They're creating Facebook and Twitter accounts under pseudonyms and using those accounts to post events, videos, articles and codes.
Unless you're following the daily YouTube clips or the Facebook and #IranElection Twitter feeds, it's easy to view Iran strictly through the lens of the nuclear issue and ignore this bigger story.
But if you can learn to navigate this new language like the Iranian Greens have, you'll find that the Green Movement was not just a brief summer fling with the prospect of freedom that faded with the falling leaves. Far from it. It is a serious, ongoing love affair, and both lovers are determined to marry.
The protests have not stopped in Iran. Despite the unceasing arrests, torture, sham trials and executions, brave Iranians are determined to continue courting liberty. Today, the 16th of Azar on the Persian calendar, that is exactly what they're doing. In effect, they're throwing one hell of an engagement party. And everyone's invited.
For over a month, Iranians have been preparing for today, officially known as National Students Day, which promises to bring out protesters en masse. The 16th of Azar has had its own Twitter hash tag for weeks. Posters and flyers are all over university campuses. Facebook groups are posting scheduled events that coincide with 16 Azar all over the world. Indeed, preparations have been well under way for some time.
Students Day has been observed as an annual event in Iran since 1953, when three students were killed while protesting a visit by then-Vice President Nixon. It has become an outlet for activism — a day for students to protest oppressive government actions and policies.
Today, the Iranian people will not only call the regime out on its yacht-capturing, hiker-imprisoning, uranium-enriching distraction tactics; they will also remind their rulers of their accountability to their own people. They will remind them of their responsibility for mass murder, rape, torture and ruthless intimidation. They will remind them that they are no longer welcome in Iran. They will remind them, and the rest of the world, that the wedding is still on.