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« The Latest from Iran (12 February): The Day After 22 Bahman | Main | Iran Video Special (1): The 22 Bahman Attack on Karroubi? »

Iran Video Special (2): Decoding the 22 Bahman Rally in Azadi Square

EA correspondent Mr Verde offers an in-depth reading of this extended clip, filmed during President Ahmadinejad's speech in Azadi Square on Thursday:


The Latest from Iran (12 February): The Day After 22 Bahman

The beginning of the footage, which looks like it is taken from the southeast corner of Azadi Square:

The crowd are quiet and relaxed and it looks as if it is footage from any grassy patch where people would sit and “picnic”. As you can see, it shows people getting comfortable for a long wait. This trying to get comfortable is to the point that a someone (around the 00:38 mark) has used a poster of Khamenei and Khomeini to sit on in order not to get dirt on their trousers. (Remember the "disrespecting of Khomeini's photo" allegation over the demonstrations on 7 December?). This is not a political rally to “gouge out the eye of sedition”, as the regime wants to demonstration. It is a (possibly forced) day out for people and their families. And people are doing their best to cope with it, such as the guy who is fast asleep (around the 1:18 mark) or the kids who are playing football (at the 1:29 mark).

There is very little sign of support for the Government or indeed the regime. For example take note of the lady in chador carrying a photo of Khomeini and Khamenei and looking very serious about it (2:19 mark). She has one person accompanying her. No one else seems to be the least bit interested in making any political or ideological point. The same goes for the van with the sound system on the back (2:38 mark). It is being ignored by almost everyone whom it passes. The only people who are taking serious note of it are two kids who are trying to climb the back of it as a prank. (Also note that the van has red Government plates; Government vehicles are supposed to be used for specific purposes for which they are bought, not carrying sound systems in a rally.)

At the 3:14 mark, a man is selling CDs titled “Green Sedition” for 500 toman (just over $0.50). Presumably its contents try to prove that Mousavi, Karroubi, etc. are enemy agents.

From the 3:27 mark, the footage is from the center of Azadi Square. (The podium is always erected on the north side of Azadi Square, so that the photos and videos of the speeches and military parades have the Alborz mountain arrange in the background. At least this was the original idea, but these days all you see in the background is pollution). Again people are not paying any attention to what is being said. They are just trying to pass the time. As the camera moves from underneath the Azadi monument, you could see a few police officers who are holding private conversations and three Red Crescent first-aid personnel who are standing around idly. You will also see a lot of rubbish on the ground which looks like posters that have been discarded. Again not a sign of support. You will also notice that the general flow of the people is away from the podium and towards Azadi Avenue to the east (later footage will show why this is so).

Notice the Red Crescent first-aid assistant holding a poster of Khamenei (4:24 mark). This is an employee who is told to hold the poster, and this sign of “regime” is ignored by everyone around him. It is in fact being ignored by the sign bearer himself (look how he’s just letting it fall over his shoulder while he holds a conversation at 4:31 mark). Even on the north side and so close to the podium you’ll notice people laying down and taking a nap (5:40 mark).

Take note of the place in his speech where Ahmadinejad is saying that, within the next 5 to 10 years, Iran will become the world’s preeminent power (6:08 mark). This is where people would usually say allah-o-akhbar to support this grand statement (allah-o-akhbar in this case is like a standing ovation is the West). But in this case the crowd around the cameraman is completely silent. It looks like no one was listening to what he was saying, but even when the crowd in the distance (those in front of the podium) breaks out into chants of allah-o-akhbar, the people around the cameraman are completely indifferent. It looks like they just don’t care. The sound of the allah-o-akhbar sounds as if it is coming from several thousand people at best.

From the 6:35 mark the footage is of Azadi Avenue. Again people are just milling around, oblivious to the speech and the task of fighting the sedition. At the 6:40 mark, there seems to be an official (I cannot identify him) surrounded by a handful of people. If the support for the government was high, you’d expect people to gather around him in the thousands and to follow him purposefully, not to rush forward to just take a photo (mind you, if I was there, I too would take a photo to take home and ask friends and family, who is this guy?). Compare this to the way Mousavi, Karoubi, Khatami, etc. are treated by their supporters.

There is a larger crown milling around in between the stalls (7:16 mark onwards), but again the two men with the posters (7:19-7:25 mark) are completely ignored.

The flag at the 7:27 mark is interesting. Even inside the lion’s den, someone has had the courage to cut out the Islamic Republic emblem from the flag, and someone else has had the opportunity to film it on the ground. No one seems to care that an Iranian flag is just thrown onto the ground, and worse still it is missing the Islamic Republic's emblem. There is no sign of zeal or indeed any belief here.

The only sign of interest of the crowd or any energetic activity is close to the buses(7:47), where either street sellers are offering something or something is being given out for free.

I would take this footage seriously. It goes to show the extent to which “supporters” care about the Government and the regime.

Reader Comments (35)

Brother Nima,
plenty of Sandis and Cakes available.Pls come over.
Islamic Republic Interest Section (daftar)

February 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMajid

some Basiji eating ice cream to have enough energy before attacking demonstration.

February 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterahmad


The Iranian Regime is in good company when it comes to recruiting child soldiers - other third world countries.


February 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

Child soldiers have been used before - - usually when a Regime is on it's last legs.


February 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarry


"usually when a regime is on it's last legs." ! good coment
It's shoking Barry,
you know that " it is only "Ideologi regime" such as Islamic Republic, Pol Pot in Cobodjia ,.. who have sucha talent to employe these innocent kids for thier disgusting goals
You know how many of these innocent kids went on mines in Iran/Iraq war, lost their dear life for "permanence" of Islam and the regime?
If that had some justification of "defending motherland" and was somehow praised by some people , now,when regime employing these innocent kids for just a scoupe of ice creame to attack their countrymen and women beating them to death-look at the films taken recently from the Green peacefull demonstration- is just crime against humanity.They should come to people's justice sooner or later.

February 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaryam

I am not denying any of the economic and human rights points. And those exact points are what makes me not a regime supporter or an Ahmadinejad supporter. But these points existed when the green leadership was in power. By bringing them back to power these matters will not be resolved.

I would not have insisted on challenging the video posted had I not heard first hand from a green supporter that he estimated the rally on December 30th to have had 2 million participants. I would question a regime supporter's estimates but not an opponents. The chat I posted above is also genuine. Please note that in it my friend says that the square was never full. That the marchers flowed in and out of the square. This confirms the satellite image, and also shows that I was wrong in my earlier comments when I said that the square was full. It would be good if Enduring America could obtain the other tiles of the satellite image of that time to show how far the crowd actually stretched.

There is a second point. The IRI is a theocracy. The clergy have deep roots in Iranian society. They know what to say and how to say it to rally large portions of Iranian society. They are good at it. They have over 1000 years of experience with it. I am not saying that I support their messaging or that it resonates with me. It doesn't. But it works.

If I was interested in lying to you, I would have simply said that I was in Iran and saw everything first hand.

@Masood You can write as much misinformation as you like to make your point. While some of the things you have said may be true, some are pure nonsense. I will not waste my time going point by point. I will just give you one example:
Iran's Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $81.31 billion (31 December 2009 est.) Source: CIA (people who love sandis and are regime sympathizers):

@Scott I chatted with my friend again, he said they came to support the regime and show that they are willing to die for it. As far as mood he said that the crowed was angry at Khatami, Karobi, and Mousavi.

@Barry please observe how the conversation degrades to personal attacks and discussing everything about how bad the regime is. A simple conversation about the rally turns into a discussion about everything. Of course people should feel free to write whatever they like. However, by widening the topic they dilute it. No wonder more intelligent people refrain from commenting here.

@Megan The spy satellites can show the number of people at the rallies. But they can't show their resolve, their thoughts, or their motives. That was what the commentary above was doing.

February 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNima



Nice touch adding Farsi text to validate your hearsay. Nice try buddy but no thanks.

A person in Tehran watching Seda V Sima, the government-run broadcasting station, said Seda V Sima was showing crowd- waving flag while Ahmadi was yakking away his usual nonsense. She, however, said the images of flag-waving people showed a sunny day in Tehran and yet at that moment the sky was covered with cloud. A few eye witnesses at Azadi Sq. confirmed that indeed sky above Azadi Sq. was cloudy and not sunny when Ahmadi was enjoying the sound of his own voice. Furthermore, she and a few others who were watching events broadcasted by Seda V Sima said they could hear people in the background and from distance chanting “Marg Br Dictator” while Ahmadi was speaking. The chant of “Marg Br Dictator” (death to the dictator) was also confirmed by a few who were at North East part of Azadi Square. Conclusion? Seda V Sima was showing images from a past event and it was adding Ahmadi’s voice to that film.

I am one hundred percent with Nasrin that Islamic Republic Lies. It has lied through its ugly teeth for 31 years and it will continue to do so until self destruct.

Do you remember the lesson we were taught in second or third grade about Choupaane Dourogh Gou (the shepherd boy who cried wolf when there was no wolf)? That is the story of IR and its shameful actors and supporters – nothing they say is believable. No intelligent person any place in Iran or outside Iran will buy IR rubbish anymore. Please. if you have any respect for yourself and those who have died in the hands of this regime, do not participate in IR deceit and web of lies.

With regard to your concerns that our policy makers in the US may make bad decisions based on EA commentaries or Videos that it posts, I say do not worry. Our policy makers have access to information generated by sophisticated satellite system and imaging technologies and they can see what is unfolding in Iran. They do not need to read EA. The US has technology that can see the license plate of your car and much more from thousands of feet above the earth. I know because I worked on one.

February 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMegan


Of course you are quite entitled to coment here and say whatever you feel about this regime and opsitions. But what makes the problem is just to stick to the opsition numbers in a specific atmosphere for specific reason-which was thoruoly answered by other fellow Iranian- and to foget many other points about this regime ,trying to make this barbaric regime.

1-Defintely there are some basidjis and regime mercenaries who want to die for it these are who insult Khatami,Mussavi,Karoobi and and All Greens and event want to kill them when unleashed by their comanders.THey are some fenatics who likes to go to paradise by sheding blood of those who does not like their believs.

2-Defintely this regime is taking advantage of peoples religous believes of more than 1000 years.BUT what you forget is that these people are now completely rulling out regim's Islam which now is not more than bloodshed,rape,violence,fraud,LIE,human right violation.Majority of THESE religous people are now different from those who were ready to die for Islamic regime 30 years ago . They are even different from religeous peolple of 4 years ago.
I am not talking about ever increasing secular people especially youth .
People are now realizing more and more than an ideologic government who was giving them promise of paradise is just making a hell in Iran for them.
Nima this is not just a slogan. I remind you that you couldn't see more than 500 people gathe defying this regime even one year ago.What happened to Iranian who now demontrate in millions defying the whole regime.I don't expect you to say because regime is more democratic than before and gving more freedom or Khamenie' is more nice now !!!
You see how brutaly they beat,rape ,jail and execute Iranian.
Green movement roots in people's moral heroism, human values and wisdom.
In numbers,they are not a few thousand ,They are in millions,religous and secular and agnostics.From Tehran to small cities.
This regime is loosing it's legitimacy. in IRAN and in the world.
This regime has nothing to defend for NIMA.Absolutely NOTHING.
.Keep off this shameless,barbaric regime.
The sooner,the better.

February 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaryam

trying to make this barbaric regime legitimit.

February 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaryam

another naration - in Persian- from Feb 11, Rally in Azadi and other nearby streets.

5 layers of Basidj and security forces presented.

February 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGreengirl

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