March 18, 2004

Bonfire of the Mullahs


CNN reported Tuesday: Iranians celebrate fire festival.

Iranians danced in the street, threw firecrackers and jumped over bonfires Tuesday night as authorities openly tolerated an ancient fire festival for the first time in 25 years.

Halted each year since the 1979 Islamic revolution because hardliners considered it un-Islamic, the Chaharshanbeh Suri, or Red Wednesday, festival was officially recognized in Tehran where the city council set aside dozens of parks for people to enjoy the boisterous celebrations.

Tens of thousands packed the streets of the capital hurling firecrackers into the air to mark the eve of the last Wednesday of the Iranian calendar year.

What the CNN/Reuters article failed to report, however, was that some the festivities were also anti-regime demonstrations that sometimes turned violent. Such news had to be found at Iran-oriented Web sites.

Potkin Azarmehr at Iran Va Jahan reported more details and commented on the political implications: Festival of Light and Fire, A Defiance of Ruling Clerics:

For the last 25 years of the Islamic rule, the Iranian New Year Nowrooz, and the Red Wednesday fire Festival, which falls on the last Tuesday evening of the Iranian year, have been the battleground between the Iranian culture of joy, knowledge and life and the non-Iranian culture of mourning, ignorance and martyrdom.[...]

The Islamic regime's security forces tried to reach a compromise this year by not banning the celebrations but declaring only certain official parks in the cities for lawful celebrations. Yet the people and the youth in particular once again turned the Red Wednesday celebrations into a combat zone for the test of forces.

As the youth jumped over the bonfires the traditional ancient rhymes were replaced with anti-government ones. "toop, tank, feshfesheh Akhoond bayad koshteh sheh" " Cannons, Tanks and Firecrackers, We must kill the Mullahs".

In the Haft-Howz, Falakeh Dovvom and Nirooye Havaii, districts of Tehran more than 10,000 people had gathered. Some women openly removed their scarves encouraging others to do so too. In Mohseni Square, the youth fought back the Law Enforcement Forces. At least 20 government forces were reported badly beaten up by the crowds. In Amir-Abad district the people joined the students and more anti-government slogans were shouted. Police patrol cars, which attempted to disperse the crowd, drove away from the scene as the people started throwing home made grenades at them. In Aryashahr, the crowd were throwing pictures of Supreme Leader, Khamenei and Islamic Republic flags on to the bonfires. [Emphasis added]

The Iranian theocracy has for years proudly proclaimed "Death to America." Today it is common knowledge that the regime actively supports terrorists and pursues nuclear weapons. If we are to keep America safe from further harm by Islamists, the least our government can do is morally and materially support an uprising by the Iranian people. And since our government doesn't seem to be overtly providing such support, we can only hope it is doing so covertly.

Our thanks to Haleh at 'Free Iran' News who sent us an informative history of the Festival of Fire and suggested that we create a cartoon. His site is also posting festival photos from Iran and America and regularly keeps track of the latest news regarding Iran.

UPDATE: Jeff Jacoby has an excellent, must-read editorial on the shortcomings of the Bush Administration in regard to Iran: Time for Regime Change in Iran. (Hat tip Deborah Knapp via HBL)

When it comes to the liberation of Iran, President Bush's words have been perfect.  When will his administration's deeds follow suit?   The United States should long ago have made regime change in Tehran a clear-cut goal of US foreign policy.  At every turn, the mullahs who rule Iran have demonstrated their enmity for everything we are trying to accomplish in the Middle East.  They are determined to keep Iraq agitated and unstable, and actively work to undercut US influence there.  They camouflage their avid pursuit of a nuclear bomb behind a cloud of diplomatic blue smoke, one day making a show of cooperation with Western investigators, the next day demanding that the investigations end.  Iran remains the world's foremost sponsor of terror, sheltering Al Qaeda thugs within its borders and dispatching trained killers to Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.[...]

Toppling the mullahs would not require a US invasion.  The majority of Iran's 67 million people loathe their government.  Many are unabashedly pro-American.  If the United States explicitly called for regime change in Tehran and backed up that call with diplomatic and financial support for the pro-democracy resistance, Iranians would respond with courage and resolve.  Like the festering Communist dictatorships that collapsed when the people of Eastern Europe rose against them in 1989, the corrupt Islamists in Iran can be defeated by the men and women they have oppressed for so long.
If we are going to win the war on terror, the liberation of Iran is not an option.  It is a prerequisite.  The Bush administration should be saying so -- and living up to its words.

Posted by Forkum at March 18, 2004 12:06 AM