Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is trying to force his people in a direction a majority reject. Iason Athanasiadis explains:
Before the crackdown, the event was little more than a bothersome national institution. For a few weeks every late spring, the grim-faced guardians of public mores would venture out in their olive-green uniforms, black official chadors, and Mercedes police cars to play cat-and-mouse with their mostly female prey, forced by the rising summer heat to stretch the seams of Islamically acceptable couture. On street corners and crowded squares, girlfriends sent text messages to one another on accessorized mobile phones and swapped tips on which parts of the city the morality police was conducting stop-and-search operations.
At a time when some deft Iranian diplomacy is increasing Tehran’s influence throughout the Middle East, the domestic social situation is more dire than at almost any other time since the Revolution. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad broke his preelection promise to preserve the hard-won social liberties of the past decade as he seeks a return to the original Revolutionary ideals of public virtue and an Islamic society. But many Iranians have moved on from the submissive first days of the Islamic Republic, when morality militias and curfews governed the streets after dusk. The new generation mounts actions of social insubordination that their parents only dreamed of.
“Whipping workers for taking part in May Day ceremonies is a most inhuman action aimed at destroying the gains of the world working class, for which millions of workers around the world have given up their lives and endured much hardship. The issuing and carrying out of the medieval sentence of whipping for workers in Iran is a warning to the world working class, and we expect that you dear friends and workers of the world will strongly and firmly react to it”.