Wednesday 17 June 2009

Fisk unfisked

Who'da thunk it? Robert Fisk, whose name is literally a byword for mealy-mouthed reporting of all things anti-western, may turn out to be a hero of journalism, defying the Iranian government ban to stay in the country and report from the frontline of the uprising. And there's no sign in his report of any Fiskian attempt to play down the scale of what he's witnessed: he estimates that at least a million attended Sunday's opposition march. Interestingly, Fisk describes one demonstration where he saw the army protecting protestors from the Basij (religious) militia:

In fact at one point, Mousavi's supporters were shouting 'thank you, thank you' to the soldiers.

One woman went up to the special forces men, who normally are very brutal with Mr Mousavi's supporters, and said 'can you protect us from the Basij?' He said 'with God's help'.

It was quite extraordinary because it looked as if the military authorities in Tehran have either taken a decision not to go on supporting the very brutal militia - which is always associated with the presidency here - or individual soldiers have made up their own mind that they're tired of being associated with the kind of brutality that left seven dead yesterday - buried, by the way secretly by the police - and indeed the seven or eight students who were killed on the university campus 24 hours earlier.

Quite a lot of policeman are beginning to smile towards the demonstrators of Mr Mousavi, who are insisting there must be a new election because Mr Ahmadinejad wasn't really elected. Quite an extraordinary scene.

That sounds promising. There's just the faintest whiff of Fiskishness right at the end of his report, where he claims that the uprising is 'absolutely not' against the Islamic republic or the Islamic revolution:

It's clearly an Islamic protest against specifically the personality, the manner, the language of Ahmadinejad. They absolutely despise him but they do not hate or dislike the Islamic republic that they live in.

Hmm. That's not how it looks from here. It may be that Mousavi and his supporters are playing a clever game, using the language of the Islamic revolution to ensure that they don't alienate the mass of the population, and don't provoke a backlash by the clerics (see this post). But those of us who long to see a modern, secular democracy emerge in Iran (and see the yearning for it in the faces, banners and chants of the mostly young protestors) live in hope of a deeper change. 

1 comment:

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I hate to say it, esp. where Fisk is involved, but that last quote - i might be true, you know.

When you look at the pretender's bio, there is not much to contradict this quote.