Revolutions are serious business. They require zeal, energy and fervor--all of which need to be maintained. For the past thirty years, the Islamic regime has struggled to keep its revolution alive, and not without success. The latest round of the nuclear deal is no different. It is already presented as another revolutionary victory and it might strengthen the hold of the fragile government in Tehran that desperately seeks legitimacy since its controversial elections last June.
But legitimacy, we should note, is no longer in the hands of IAEA or the International Community. It is in the hands of the Iranian people. Take one recent example. November 4th was the official day of commemorating the overtaking the American Embassy in Tehran. It was designed as a day of anti-American protests. But this year hundreds of thousands of Iranians from Tehran and other major cities poured into the streets to protest something else.
Despite the repeated official warnings from the Islamic regime that any deviation from the official line of demonstrations would be met severely by the security forces, Iranians came out in defiance and once again, in a direct reference to the supreme leader, just as they had done for the past five months since the disputed June election, shouted "Death to Dictator".
Just as in the past five months, video clips of these demonstrations started to appear and circulate on the internet. In one, young Iranians cheer and jump in to the air as one of them tear down a huge official banner of the Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei. In the video clip they throw the picture on the ground and start walking on it. As Judith Miller wrote in her Opinion peace on Fox Forum, "The Iranian government is now loathed by most of its people."
The demonstrations on Nov 4th were no surprise, especially after the last round just weeks ago at the Quds Day.
The International Quds day is a day of Muslim solidarity with the Palestinian cause scheduled for the last Friday of Ramadan. Traditionally--and ever since it was initiated by Kohmeni--this was one of the strongest rallies orchestrated as a show of solidarity with the revolution. Defying the supreme leader who had warned not to use the Quds day for anything except its intended purpose of solidarity with the Palestinians and opposition to Israel, millions of Iranians poured into the streets to do the exact opposite. They cheered another revolution that is already marching on the streets of Tehran. They cheered to the March of Liberty.
Before the demonstrations were even over, video clips were already posted and circulated over the internet. Huge masses of Iranians could be seen walking on the streets of Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan and Tabriz with their Green colors. Even more telling were the clips of official cheerleaders on the back of pickup trucks trying desperately to insight the people to chant, "Death to America," to which people would chant, "Death to Russia." Frustrated, the cheerleaders would shout, "Death to Israel" and people would respond back, "No to Gaza. No to Lebanon. We give our lives for Iran."
In an open letter to Mir Hossein Moussavi and former president Khatami, Ahmad Tavakoli, one of the most prominent hardliner members of the Parliament and head of the Center for Strategic studies of the Islamic Parliament, expressed his shock and outrage about the Quds day events. He demanded that both Moussavi and Khatami will distance themselves from the demonstrators and their slogans. The movement, he wrote, enjoys global support from the "enemies of Iran, the Islamic revolution and Muslims." Its members, he added, "are seculars who intend to challenge the Islamic regime." Similar comments and expressions of outrage poured from preachers all across the country.
In their outrage, the hardliners unintentionally admitted to something they had always tried to deny. For the first time, high ranking officials were forced to admit that not just a handful, but that millions of Iranians have nothing in common with the pillars of the Islamic revolution's ideology. And that millions are determine to challenge its authority with the intention of changing it.
And this might be another point in the history of a revolution in the making. The Quds day and now the Nov 4th demonstrations were a turning point in the Iranian people's struggle to regain their freedom.
Thomas Jefferson once famously said, "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." For the past thirty years people were fearful of the Islamic regime, but since the June rigged presidential election and the Quds day demonstrations it seems like it is the Islamic regime that is increasingly more fearful of the Iranians. True liberty might not be granted yet--but its spirit is already marching in the streets of Tehran. There is no question about that. The only question is whether the free world will be marching in solidarity with it.
Nir Boms is vice president of the Center for Freedom in the Middle East and a co-founder of the CyberDissident project. Shayan Arya is an Iranian activist and a member of Constitutionalist Party of Iran.