Symbols are the key.
They have always been for us as Iranians, and with the birth of the green movement, our symbols have thrived.
I’ve spent so long looking at this photo of Sohrab Arabi’s mother, because in this one photo, there are so many symbols to look at, there’s so much that might at first escape the eye.
Many of my friends in Iran tell me that that “the green movement is dead”. When you talk to them more, you realize what they mean is that street protests of glorious magnitudes will no longer be. And although Iran is never a country on which one should make bets or big predictions, that does seem to be the case. When Khamenei says that the demonstrators are few and insignificant, given the violence his own machine has unleashed on them, he does have a point. It is likely that we will not see epic demonstrations, we will not see thousands of people shouting, running, holding hands in silence.
More specifically, it might be the end of the media spectacle. And if the media signals death for something, it certainly must be dead, right?
Not necessarily. At this moment, sitting here right now, I don’t know the future, and I will not pretend I do. But one thing seems clear to me and that is that the street phase of the movement is likely over, but that it will continue to live on and flourish underground, waiting for another chance to manifest itself. Waiting for people to come along and exploit its deep, green roots underground – for better or worse.
Like the cries of “Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein” which broke out while celebrating the new year with our dear poet, Hafez:
These incidents may only occur momentarily, and far in between, but they show that there’s a whole different world taking shape behind closed doors, that there’s a whole new chapter millions of Iranians are busy writing, editing and proofreading everyday … one that we may not always be privy to, … until moments like this.
One of the symbols we Iranians go back to every Norouz is what we call eyd didani. People (family, friends and neighbors) are expected to visit one another in the form of short house visits, which are usually reciprocated. The house starts by visiting the oldest person in the family (grandparents, elder uncles, etc) and moving on to others. Later, the elders return the visit.
I really admire how activists have taken up this long honored tradition and visited the families of martyrs, prisoners and other activists. And not only because it is a good excuse to visit everyone twice while under the careful watch of the state. You see, the eyd didani is much different than just a regular house visit. People visit one another at the start of the new year, to wish each other the best for the coming year, as if to say: “we’ll be around for 365 more days” … it’s a promise of renewal … a silent pledge.
Mousavi and Rahnavard visiting the home of Bijan Amouyi [home from prison for a short Norouz visit] and Jaleh Banyaghoub.
Women’s rights activists visiting the home of Azar Mansouri:
The Mousavi visits are also really cute because you notice that the whole extended family is in the photos: they’ve all made it to see Mir Hossein and Zahra Rahnavard. Here Mousavi and Rahnavard visit the home of Azar Mansouri:
Mousavi and Rahnavard visit the home of imprisoned journalist and writer, Mohammad Nourizad:
Mostafa Tajzadeh, home for a short break during Norouz, visits the home of Badrossadat Mofidi the head of the journalists union who is currently in prison:
Tajzadeh at the home of imprisoned journalist, writer and human rights activist, Emaddedin Baghi:
[the top of Baghi's portrait says: Dad, for us, Eyd (Norouz) will be the day you come home.]