Why Iran unrest is not revolution re-run, according to experts





As the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution approaches this week, with the promise of mass protests from Iran's growing opposition movement, it's tempting to compare the upheaval with unrest that ultimately toppled the shah of Iran.

A coalition of Iranian reformist groups is urging opponents of the regime to stage nonviolent protests this week, serving as a show of force for citizens who oppose the government's stiff crackdown on those who protested Iran's disputed election last June.

While there are striking similarities between the movements separated by decades of Islamic rule, experts say there are even stronger differences that make what lies ahead for the current movement extremely challenging....

"Taking to the streets is as Iranian as apple pie is American," said Ervand Abrahamian, author of "A History of Modern Iran." He noted that Iranians have used street protests as their weapons of choice as early as the Tobacco Protest of 1890, a revolt led by Shiite clerics against a tobacco concession granted by Iran's imperial government to Britain....

"Today, Iran's security apparatus is entrenched in the Islamic republic," said Hamid Dabashi, professor of Iranian studies at New York's Columbia University. "Over the last three decades, what the Islamic republic has done instead of investing in jobs, is invest in security."...

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