From the rooftops of Tehran, “Laleh Azadi” sends us an extraordinary essay, a “scream” into the darkness, rich with irony and insight, sadness and hope. Worth pondering in full, consider these excerpts:
“We put all our emotions into screaming “Allahu Akbar” into the night from the rooftops. We must stay under the radar during the day but the night brings a small sense of freedom. The streets are quiet and the heat has subsided so we can breath and use our voices. The calls that begin around 10 p.m. each night have gained strength since last Friday. There are more voices — both desperate and defiant — from young and old, men and women. It is the way we remind each other not to give up all hope, and it is our call for a leader.”
There’s something haunting here. In the west, we tend to associate darkness with fear, foreboding, even evil. The darkness is something we “curse.” Yet for Iranian reformists, the night becomes a sanctuary, a source of courage.
Laleh gives us more than raw emotion; she provides a different window for the outside world to comprehend the terms of the struggle:
“For many, this movement is about reclaiming the spirit and intent of the Islamic Revolution — even if most of us were born after it. We want to fight for the principles our parents fought for thirty years ago — the right to be free from tyranny, the right to choose, and the right to a voice. We see Khamenei and Ahmadinejad moving the Islamic Revolution away from democratic pluralism and towards authoritarianism.”
By day, the loudest voices of protest presently come from senior clerics, something Laleh wishes to explain:
“It might seem surprising to outsiders that the loudest voices of dissent are coming from the religious seminaries and Muslim clerics in Qum, but this is not unusual for Iran. Since the revolution, human rights activists, feminists, and even left-leaning politicians have found their greatest ally in Islam. Hence, the use of the color green — the color of Islam — for this resistance movement. It is as if to say to the conservative clerics who rule the country, “You cannot suppress us with religion. The martyred Imam Hussein is our example and Islam is our religion. It protects us, gives us a voice, and compels us to be compassionate for all humanity.”
In Laleh’s real world, all is not black and white, nor is it velvet. It’s green.