For a country with a double-digit inflation rate, regime change is only a matter of time. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s humiliation at Columbia University and the criticism that followed it in the Iranian government ranks was only one other sign that the group which rules the Islamic Republic is shrinking. It is a bitter fact, however, that during its 30 years in power, the Islamic Republic has successfully dissipated or humiliated any political alternative. This leaves no other appropriate option on the table, making the chance for a “velvet revolution” grim. Nevertheless, the regime is indeed under harsh and active criticism by a large group of people who do not constitute a classical opposition party.
A few months back, the Iranian judiciary announced that Jafar Kiani was to be stoned in public on charges of adultery. He and his partner were sentenced to death because they had lived together for more than 10 years after they carried out the Islamic marriage rituals without registering so. Soon the news was out that Jafar had in fact helped his wife, Mokarrameh Ebrahimi, who is still behind the bars, escape from an abusive husband who had been forcing her to sleep with strangers for money. The couple was arrested after her original husband raised charges against the couple.
In a matter of a few hours the Iranian “blogosphere” erupted. Posts shared phone numbers of government offices, and blogs invited everyone to call up and mention their disgust. The next day, the state-run media outlets carried reports about the “false mentions of a planned stoning.” It was a moment of joy and glory that unfortunately ended horribly. Only two weeks after that first announcement, judiciary officials transferred Jafar to a tiny village called Aghche-kand, in the province of Qazvin and buried him up to his waist. The next day many blogs carried pictures of the bloody stones which were used to kill him. Mokarrameh was called up to the prison administration the next day to be informed of her saviour’s fate. Nevertheless, probably because of the wave of disgust and condemnation that had followed the stoning, Larijani, the head of the Human Rights Commission in the judiciary, called the stoning “the personal decision of the judge,” although he defended stoning as a “punishment.” The tip, the pictures, and the updates about the stoning were all sent out by Persian bloggers inside Iran, but many of those who orchestrated the awareness cause were sitting in the security of their armchairs in North America and Europe.