The Green Revolution, According to Reza Aslan and Hooman Majd
by Sophia Rose Shafi
This past June, I went to a talk by Reza Aslan, author of my favorite book on Islamic religious history (refreshingly balanced in its treatment of Sunnis, Shi’as, and Sufis), who began with a smile and proposed, “What are we going to talk about? Hmmm… There really isn’t anything going on.”
Of course, what was going on was the Green Revolution, the uprising in the streets of Iran due to the real, or imagined, fraud of the election. Aslan’s assessment was that Iran had undergone a “slow moving military coup” by the Revolutionary Guard that resulted in the breakdown of the old paradigms of the mullahs vs. the kids, rich vs. poor, and other social binaries.
Many months later, in October, I went to hear Hooman Majd, whose book The Ayatollah Begs to Differ is my favorite one on Iran (I’ve read most of them, since I visited Iran and became sucked into the loveliness of all things Persian). He began with the following statement about Iranian internal affairs, “Nobody knows anything.” Although Majd clearly thinks the election was sketchy, he was reticent to declare it “stolen” and argued there was no hard “proof” for this assessment.
Whatever happened this past spring, it clearly irritated the three million Iranians who took to the streets. Whether this was the culmination of coup or a sloppy attempt to steal an election or both, Aslan and Majd agree that the United States would be wise to stay out of Iranian affairs. The last time we messed around in Iranian affairs, by assisting in the 1953 coup that brought the Shah back to power and overthrew a democratically elected government, it resulted in decades of distrust between the United States and Iran and a revolution that is currently being challenged. Perhaps this time the Iranians will be left alone to work out their own future.