Isfahan: A Cry in the Desert
In early November 2021, thousands of demonstrators – men, women, old and young, mainly farmers, but also people from all walks of life – gathered on the dried bed of Zayanderud river to protest against the water shortages in Isfahan.
Once more, albeit less bloodier, the heavy-handed machinery, crushing the protesters, was not much different from what had happened in Khuzestan province in July, or elsewhere in Iran in the past couple of years.
A couple of hollow promises from governmental bodies, a few bickering among the ministers were the first reactions of the regime. Then, the ill-educated obedient servants of the regime, including members of parliament and the Head of Judiciary, accused the protesters of being manipulated by Iran’s enemies and acted against the people; an overused flimsy fabrication of any despotic state, but still sweet to the supporters of the Velayat-e Faqih.
However, as the clamour for mismanagement on water distribution grew, the rattled government backed off and praised the greatness of the people and farmers of Isfahan. Even, rain prayers aimed at asking Allah for rain to fall were held in Isfahan and a couple of badly hit towns by drought.
As usual with the Iranian street manifestations, the flash in the pan was put out and the protesters went home. The Isfahanis endured the humiliations. The people in other towns, also suffering from water shortage, watched in silence the events unfold. The regime gave a sigh of relief.
Another occasion to defy, at national level, the despotism and the failure of the regime was lost. None of the towns that are suffering from water shortage and have been repressed in the recent past stood with the Isfahanis.
Dread the land in which its leader is a schismatic religious fools, its president of the republic an executioner, and its free-willed, dependable citizens are yet to be born.
The Iranian protests are a long but broken chaplet of locally contained gestures. Spreading themselves too thin, each bead has the burning power of a candle, easily put out with a snuffer. Despite this, the regime is so scared of losing its grip on the population that reacts with extreme violence, using an industrial blower to put out a little flame.
One could imagine synchronous nationwide protests, the same as those organised in 1978-1979 by the mullahs to grab the power. The burning power of the candles combined could turn into a campfire. And, no campfire is put out effortlessly, and if it spreads, it would make the men in robes run for their lives. But, to kindle a campfire in togetherness, there must be a desire to make a strong common cause from dispersed similar demands.
Isfahan – Half of the World
In the minds and hearts of the Iranians Isfahan and Zayanderud had a special place. The city was believed to be no less than Half the World / نصف جهان.
The roaring Zayanderud in spring, calm and placid later in the year, was magic. Strolling by the riverside of Zayanderud was the epitome of a perfect day for the visitors. Sipped leisurely, tea had a divine taste. The breeze was scented, and the friends’ conversation exquisite… an idyllic legacy of yore, cheaply sold to the Glory of Islamic Revolution for the price of the Valiy-e Faqih’s babouche.
Today, Zayanderud bed is dry as dust can be. By the riverside, tea tastes foul, effluvia has risen, and manners are boorish.
Zayanderud is dead, Isfahanis lack joie de vivre, and Isfahan, Half the World, has shrunk to a fraction of its pretended size.
The legendary Isfahani vital force has dried up with Zayanderud. In the name of Islamic civilisation, the regime has slowly ruined Isfahan by stealing its water by treachery and sleaze, and appropriating its soul with its ruthless henchmen. Since 1979, the Isfahanis, naturally naughty wits and full of life, have put up with the superstition of the charlatans and imposters in authority.
Tabatabai-Nejad: A Pervert in Isfahan
In Iran, the Supreme Leader is the infallible one and his views on all matters run the country. If he decides that a Revolutionary principle requires an elephant to fly in the skies, it must be done.
In the provincial capitals, the Supreme Leader has a representative, the Friday prayer leaders, parroting official propaganda to the masses. The elephant was seen flying over the town thanks to some Islamic zero gravity law.
Awkward frivolousness in our writing? Certainly not. To get the picture, one has to read the local press and listen to Friday prayers. The zest of official propaganda runs the country.
Over the years, the reasons behind Zayanderud drying up have been discussed by knowledgeable observers. The repetitive droughts, climate change, and water intensive farming are exacerbated by man-made causes: political clientelism, greed and poor governance.
For the causes of the multiple human failures in the country, the Islamic Republic takes the biscuit.
Representing the Leader and councillor of Isfahan in the Assembly of Experts is Ayatollah Seyed Yousef Tabatabai-Nejad /سید یوسف طباطبایینژاد.
He wears the black turban. In the Shiite hierarchy, only the seyed ayatollahs are allowed to wear it. For centuries, the seyed title was used sparingly by individuals who claimed to be in direct line of genealogy to Ali, son-in law of Mohamed. Although, there has not been a scholarly proof of such a claim. In today’s Iran, seyeds are in abundance to fulfil the demands of the Islamic Republic in certified bigots.
Tabatabai-Nejad is a proud flag bearer of “preserving and protecting the women’s modesty”. He commands women to wear hijab, and obey their male relatives (even a fool arse) in all circumstances.
In other words, he is one of the many self-holders of a carte blanche to invade every facet of citizens’ lives, public and private, spreading toxic masculinity and perversion.
His expertise on its water shortage of Zayanderud was: My office has received photos of women next to the dry Zayanderud pictured as if they are in Europe. It is these sorts of acts that cause the river to dry up even further. (2016)
Earlier, he advised a panel of trained economists and entrepreneurs: Women should be banned from working in shops, offices and companies. Girls’ education in engineering and their employment in industry and mining is against Islamic law. (2015)
When the number of women riding a bicycle in Isfahan grew, he declared that riding a bicycle for women is heresy and not permissible. (2020)
In this, he was enthusiastically backing another pervert, also a seyed and ayatollah. Ahmad Alamolhoda, the Friday Prayer leader in Mashhad, is a member of Assembly of Experts, and a man of influence in the powerful islamic holding of Astan Quds Razavi.
Nepotism being a pillar of the Iranian Islamism, Alamolhoda is father-in-law to Ebrahim Raisi, the executioner-president of Iran. He had said: Girls sitting on a bicycle saddle play with boys’ faith and stimulate the sexual instincts of young people.
Later in 2020, Yousef Tabatabai-Nejad called for promoting insecurity in Isfahan’s public spaces for women who are bad-hijab. The observers were quick to point his barely veiled encouragement to repeat the episode of 2014 acid-attacks on women by bassijis or idle thugs full of hate.
Things could not be simpler for these phallocentric know-all misters, seyed and ayatollah: if things are royally screwed in the Islamic Republic, it is either the females’ fault or result from the acts of foreign enemies.
In decades, we have not found a remedy against the clerical obsession with women. Did we ever try?
Occasionally, we have laughed at their absurdities; often we have shrugged them off without a second thought. When our own interests have been at stake, we have applauded them.
Never have we been angered to the point of utter indignation.
After all, one way or other we believe that it’s gonna be alright, Allah is great and knows what to do.
Zayanderud: Remains of a Civilisation
Most descriptions of Iran, to attract tourists or fill a vapid preface to a book, present the country with the cliché “Iran – cradle of civilisation”: See! We built the greatest empire of the Antiquity, we wrote the first Human Rights declaration on Cyrus Cylinder.
Where do we stand now? What do these melancholic assertions tell us about present Iran, subsequent to centuries of despotism, swollen by the absolutism of the backward, blood-thirsty, pervert Islamism of the last decades?
Think of the hundreds hanged, imprisoned, raped and tortured. Where is the influence of the Cyrus cylinder or the Islamic compassion?
Today, there is little to show off to the world. The Iranian looks into the idyllic times of yore in his rear mirror, but rushes into the brick-wall of a confused obscurantism and traditionalism at full speed. The population has opted for short-term passive life strategies only aimed at the satisfaction of their basic needs. The prospect of leaving one’s comfort zone scares many.
As a nation, we have no idea how we want our country to be. This is our tragedy. In the 19th and 20th centuries, we blamed the foreign powers and the imbecilic monarchs for all our ills and social failures, including illiteracy, ignorance and poverty-induced from ideology.
Little, or rather no attention was paid to analyse the population’s frame of mind, the diversities of the social fabric and the influence of a backward Islamism on the lookout for power.
Nowadays, the reactionary ayatollahs are the totalitarian masters. They make us what they want, a continuity to the despotism of foreign powers and imbecilic monarchs.
However, over the centuries, we – Iranians – have grown up sharpening our critical thinking, essentially in the technique of finding faults in any form of authority presented to us. But, offering a constructive suggestion, especially seeking a collective solution to a social or political ill, is beyond us.
In other words, to use another common image, it would be the snake that bites its tail; even before being considered worthy of discussion, the suggested solution is criticised and the reputation of the person offering the idea, wrecked with defamation.
Today, the loopy grandiloquence of many clichés on Iran serve only as a veil to hide the loss of face that thoughtful people feel from the loutish behaviour of the authorities and the individualistic apathy. But, a short-lived shame felt by few is not enough to push for action against the regime. Moreover, it is promptly replaced with an air of haughtiness, the apologetic distraction of the brainwashed mind and injured heart.
Fanaticism, denial and nostalgia have built the walls of the true prison of the Iranian mind; soulless creatures are the cell guardians. They have managed to transform the cradle of the civilisation into a coffin carrying the remains of the civilisation.
At length, we could expatiate on a variety of causes for the death of Zayanderud: poor judgment, crass mismanagement, lack of environmental governance. We should also keep in mind that for far too long, we have been placid to the point of being apathetic in watching the water vanish.
The only ones that have the right to get rid of the ayatollahs, refuse their follies and sales-talks are us – the Iranians.
But, hold on… Do we want to grab our right and assume its responsibility? Or does the imagination of something different to despotism scare or fail us?
Maybe the devil on the wall is just a painting.