On the streets of Northern Ireland and those in Iran, violence simmers below the surface. There’s no easy way of linking the two sets of events. Except, perhaps, that each has its mood of deprivation and shared private anger at perceived injustice
‘They need somebody to hate’. That was the first remark I heard from someone brought up in Belfast, on hearing the news of the racist attacks on immigrant families.
A gang of racially motivated youths drove a group of Romanian immigrants from their homes.
Looking at 115 Romanians huddled together on the floor of a Belfast church hall, it was possible to see the worst side of Northern Ireland – and the best – all at once. The speed with which Pastor Malcolm Morgan and his team created a temporary home for 20 families was remarkable. At the same time, the sight of men, women and children looking so helpless and scared was a stain on Northern Ireland’s international reputation. Many of the families came to Belfast believing that the years of prejudice and narrow-mindedness were over. However, it seems that in some parts of the city, racism is the new sectarianism. [Mark Simpson, BBC News]
in Iran, a week of remarkable demonstrations continues. The timeline is days since the Presidential elections. The hopes in the democratic process dashed as so cruelly occurred recently in Zimbabwe. Premature claims of victory met with counter-claims backed by violence against the regime.
President Obama refuses to be drawn into the internal conflict. Wisely, in my view. It would have been easy to make some overt gesture of support in the interests of democratic freedom and its abuses.
It’s quite clear that there are enormous disputes going on behind the scenes. But the people who run this country are not stupid. There are some quite smart people, even loyalists to Mr Ahmadinejad, and they must realise how much deeper they are digging themselves into this mess every day. But at the moment, quite inexplicably, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei seems to be quite in thrall to Mr Ahmadinejad. It’s almost as if he’s taking his orders from him. He usually stays above the fray and interestingly he’s still not been seen in public since the election [Jon Leyne, Reporting from Tehran]
The audacity of hope?
I wrote at the time of the elections in Zimbabwe that there would be no winners for the foreseeable future. A bleak prognosis backed up in subsequent events.
In Northern Ireland, I am more optimistic that the extended peace process is gradually edging its people away from the bleakest outbreaks of violence and tribal warfare.
And in Iran? The exercise of power is becoming increasingly moderated by the new communications media. One of the dreams of the early web pioneers was of a communications system that would survive the most catastrophic insult. That dream seems to be coming about, as the rest of the linkedin world shares the struggles in Iran in real time.
[Image captured via twitter. Full acknowledgement as soon as possible]