Editor’s note: Among the demonstrators who joined Thursday’s protest in Tehran was a 29-year-old engineering graduate. Reached on the telephone by Associated Press correspondent Lee Keath in the United States, he spoke on condition of anonymity because he said he feared retaliation from the government. Foreign news organizations have been barred from reporting on Tehran’s streets.
Today most of the people wore black. It was a largely silent protest, very few people were chanting. People had green headbands and armbands, or scarves.
It was amazing for me. When we started to walk, when there was a bridge, it was like a sea of people across the bridge, from one end to the other. Two hours later, we walked back to that bridge and saw the same number of people, no exaggeration. From 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., it was a constant stream.
I remember one old man talking about how the will of the people has started and no one can stop it. I saw some secret police plainclothes officers among the people, watching and trying to find out what was going to happen, though they weren’t doing anything to anyone. One person in the crowd was telling the plainclothes police that this won’t last, that protesters will get tired, and we were all laughing at him.
Today people were very concerned and very determined. ... One of the slogans was saying, “We will not get exhausted and we will come every day.”
With a lot anti-filter software, I can use the Internet, but it’s very slow. But many people cannot. I work on the cyber side, spreading the news. I post a lot on Facebook. I let my friends know.
Some people inform each other with e-mails or by phone. Today, as we walked home, we were telling people that there is another demonstration on Saturday. When the cell phones work, we use them. Like today, cell phones weren’t working (for much of the day), but then they came back on, so we called with them, or with land lines. We’ve had no SMS (text messaging) for a week now.
Since Monday’s rally, which I also participated in, I saw that every type of person in Tehran is participating in these rallies. Even women in chadors, wealthy people from north Tehran, but also poorer people from central and south Tehran.
It seems that people are unified. We want the cancellation of this election and a re-election.
I’ve never been politically active before if you mean in terms of an organized way, only in terms of staying informed and being interested in what’s going on. I’ve never been in a protest before.
My reason to participate was first of all, just to be there. ... If I don’t go, my space would be empty. I’m just an ordinary guy in Iran, so I felt it was my duty to make changes, step by step, to get a better future.
I used to feel alienated in Iran, like I wasn’t part of things, but now I feel like everyone feels the way I do. I used to think it was just me and those around me who are fed up with this government, but now I see a lot of people are fed up with this system. So I think this is the first step toward reaching a full democracy.
(As for the ultimate goal), it’s hard to say, even for someone like me who is not religious. I don’t think everyone wants to end the Islamic republic because many people in Iran are very religious. So I think this current movement should keep Islam in it to maintain support. Unity is important.
I think one of the problems in 1979 was that the Left put away religion too quickly (and so failed). So I think this current movement should keep Islam in it to maintain support. Unity is important. Keeping the system with Islam in it is very important, but making it more democratic, keeping the voice of the people in it. I think change will happen.
Islam is in the blood of people here. Maybe not me or my friends, but a lot of people here. Among the crowds in the streets, they are good, practicing Muslims. That is what gives me hope that it could succeed.
My parents and whole family were (leftist) revolutionaries in 1979, so they understand what is going on. Me and lots of other young people have always told the previous generation, you did things wrong and made so many mistakes, and that’s why things are bad now.
In turn, the older generation has always accused the young of not being engaged, just going out to restaurants and cruising the streets in cars. But now, it has changed; this generation is going to show them it can be active like them. The previous generation’s hopes turned into an Islamic dictatorship. I hope we won’t repeat their mistakes.
I read an article by an Iranian saying something very nice: The train of the revolution has started, and (Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei was left at the station, but (opposition leader Mir Hossein) Mousavi, (pro-reform leader Mohammad) Khatami and the others are following the train, trying to catch up with it.
He (Mousavi) was an accidental leader. I’m sure he was surprised that so many turned out at the rallies.