On Monday I wrote about Iran’s Green Wave, in support of reformist MirHossein Mousavi. Today I am writing about the Red Tide. That’s thered-armband-wearing, virtual fascist movement in support of reelectingPresident Ahmadinejad.
Picture the scene: hours before a rally held at a huge, special indoorprayer auditorium in downtown Tehran, tens of thousands of Ahmadinejadsupporters began gathering for a pre-election rally. It’s hot, sweaty,and dusty, and a ear-splitting sound system is playing martial music asthug-like young men chant slogans. As the crowd gathers, variousspeakers whip up a frenzy of anger, xenophobia, and religious ecstasy.Appeals are made about the need to honor the suffering of various,long-dead holy men of Islam, and speakers denounce the president’sopponents.
Dark conspiracies are hinted at. “The buses and subways have been shutdown! They don’t want you here! It’s the work of Hashemi Rafsanjani!”Rafsanjani, a former president and wheeler-dealer, is supportingMousavi, and Rafsanjani’s son runs the Tehran metro system. In fact, noshutdown has happened. It’s a lie, but the crowd roars: “Death toHashemi!” You can see the hatred in their eyes.
In the VIP section is a mullah, 42, from Lahejan, who gives his name asGilani, refusing to indentify himself further. White-turbaned andslender, with the required beard, he is serene and supremely confidentin his gray robes and white shirt. He views the crowd proudly. Why doyou support Ahmadinejad? I ask. He doesn’t hesitate:
He is anti-superpower. He is against Zionism. His thinkingis divine thinking. He is going to continue the way of the martyrs. Hewants to establish a government for the entire world, a government to beestablished under the rule of the Hidden Imam.
As he says this, he looks smug and adopts the attitude of a man whoknows the truth. He has access to the inner secrets, he implies, lookingat me as if I can never understand. In the crowd many agree. Arough-looking man, probably a member of the Basij militia, defendsAhmadinejad’s absurd Holocaust-mongering. It’s hard to hear what peopleare saying, the din is so loud.
Soon, the chants are: “Death to Israel!” and of course, “Death toAmerica!” They get louder and louder. The crowd is getting angrier, andmore excited. The martial music grows in volume. Suddenly, the crowdrushes the stage, as the time for Ahmadinajad’s speech draws near. Atthe doors, thousands of people left outside and pushing through thedoors, trampling guards and old people, climbing through windows,scrambling up air conditional scaffolding to drop through ceiling-levelwindows.