An Iranian philosophy professor protesting the elections in Iran has revealed in his personal diary on Facebook.com scenes that vary from surreal comedy to all-too-real brutality. After the beating of a riot policeman, he admits, â€œWeâ€™re not beasts! Weâ€™re not like them!â€™ I think, â€˜But the bastard deserves it.â€™ I donâ€™t recognize myself and my feelings anymore.â€
Excerpts of the diary of the professor, whose name was not revealed, follow. Click here for video of protestors surrounding riot police.
I meet with my students on Saturdays for a private class. We cook and eat together, then talk of philosophy. We feel so vulnerable, more than ever, but at the same time are aware of our power. No matter how strong it is collectively, it will do little to protect us today. We could only take our bones and flesh to the streets and expose them to batons and bullets. Two different feelings fight inside me without mixing with one another. To live or to just be alive, that’s the question.
In front of Tehran University, I see the students inside, clutching the rails of the gates, as if behind bars. They shout. But I can’t hear them. In front of the students on the sidewalk, on the other side of the bars, there are two rows of anti-riot police and a row of Basij militia holding posters insulting the demonstrators of the previous days.
Then comes the attraction of the day. Two water-spraying machines. They’re huge, the size of a bus but taller, with fenced windows and two water-guns on top of each. We burst into laughter. They don’t know how to use them. They shoot second floor windows, anti-riot police and the people, including girls in tight manteaus. It’s more Zurich than Tehran. One machine is stuck. They don’t know how to drive it. It’s a hot day, the sun is intolerably shiny and it feels good to become wet. Much of the time, the sprays are not powerful. It’s as if they’re watering grass.
They push the crowd back and forth, from here to there but soon realize people are on all sides. We hear bullets, but people don’t rush away. They’re fake. Nobody’s shot.
Then at Towhid Square the scene changes drastically. There’s a shower of stones. Tear gas. Fire. People jam the sidewalks. The battle scene is huge. We cannot see the limits but it extends to a nearby street. The anti-riot police are also throwing stones. People don’t run back anymore.
I grab a broken brick and throw. I’m amazed. I never thought I’d do it. I should practice. It was a very bad shot. I grab another one, the size of a pomegranate and keep it with me, hiding it behind my back. My feeling is a mixture of a university teacher and a hooligan.
There is a woman who is being beaten. She’s horrified and hysterical but not as much as the anti-riot police officer facing her. She shrieks, "Where can I go? You tell me go down the street and you beat me. Then you come up from the other side and beat me again. Where can I go?" In sheer desperation, the officer hits his helmet several times hard with his baton. "Damn me! Damn me! What the hell do I know!"
We see officers load people in a van used for carrying frozen meat. Then a couple of minutes later, a new scene unfolds. We get out. Here’s a true battleground. And this time it’s huge. Columns of smoke rise to the sky. You can hardly see the asphalt. Only bricks and stones. Here people have the upper hand.
Two Basiji motorcycles are burning. People have learnt how to do it fast. They lay the motorcycle on its side, spilling the gasoline and lighting it on fire. We climb up a pedestrian bridge and watch. People shout from the bridge, "Down with Khameni" and "your aura is gone for good’. A Basiji is caught: He soon disappears under the crowd beating him. As if in a Roman coliseum those on the bridge shout, "Beat him up!" I shout with them before coming to my senses. What is with me? He staggers away as a group of ten people kick and punch him.
At Gisha, there’s a similar scene. Again the people have the whole crossing in their control and you can hear the uproar and horns. Motorcycles are burning in smoke. But I’m suddenly stunned. I see a red object, which later proves to be a man, about 50, his head covered with blood, crouching, people passing him by as if he was a garbage can. Then comes a guy with a long stick who wants to beat up the already beaten Basiji. People gather and stop him. He’s furious, "Why should I not? They beat tiny girls! They beat everyone! Bastard!"
I shout at him, "But we’re not beasts! We’re not like them!" Somebody takes the Basiji away as people curse him. I think, "But the bastard deserves it. To come out of your house in the morning, just to beat up people you don’t even know." I don’t recognize myself and my feelings anymore.