Middle East studies in the News
Native-born Iran Specialists See Parallels, Differences Between 2009 Uprising, 1953 Coup [incl. Hamid Dabashi, Ervand Abrahamian, Arang Keshavarzian]
by Winfield Myers
In the wake of the Iranian presidential election on June 12, 2009, which critics charge was stolen from Mir Hussein Moussavi by forces allied with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a public August 19 teach-in at Columbia University, sponsored by members of Where is my vote? addressed "The Coup of 1953 and the movement of 2009."
Navid Hazeghi of the National Iranian American Committee covered the event; this analysis draws on his report. (http://www.niacouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1489&Itemid=2)
Hamid Dabashi of Columbia University, Ervand Abrahamian of Baruch College, and Arang Keshavarzian of New York University spoke on the panel.
Dabashi, dean of Iranian Studies at Columbia, was optimistic that events in 2009 signify not a repeat of 1953, but "the beginning of a new era." As Hazeghi reported:
NYU's Keshavarzian's saw the events of 2009 resembling those of 1953:
Yet he argued things could have a happier ending:
Abrahamian of Baruch noted that the CIA wasn't involved in the 2009 protests—unlike the '53 coup—and that the suspicious outcome of the vote explained the uproar:
The authenticity of the protests can't be doubted, he added:
The accuracy of Abrahamian's observations were demonstrated by reports in the days following the election. The New York Times on June 13 of that year quoted Moussavi as saying: "Today the people's will has been faced with an amazing incident of lies, hypocrisy and fraud. I call on my Iranian compatriots to remain calm and patient."
Similarly, the Guardian reported on June 15 that, "more than 500,000 people were involved in the protest against the election 'theft'. Such large-scale protest has not seen in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution."
The subsequent brutal crushing of the protesters proved Dabashi's optimism to be woefully misplaced. The deaths of dozens of protesters and the arrests of thousands more, including former high ranking government officials, underscored the severity of the regime's crackdown on dissent. Widespread prison torture was also reported. Ahmadinejad was sworn into his second term as president on August 5, 2009.
Mr. Myers is director of academic affairs and of Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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