Sunday, July 26, 2009

Iranian Conflict Viewed from the Netherlands

Unless you live in a major population center in the United States, I think it is easy to view many world events as isolated and faraway. The conflict in Iran, for instance, may well not touch your life beyond the appearance of headlines on the newscasts that you watch. Iran remains a mysterious and hostile place in the minds of Americans, but much of this dissolves when the people and their government are separated as they have been recently.

The peoples' protests for freedom in Iran, when viewed through the prism of the populous and internationally-flavored Randstad area of the Netherlands, have proven inescapable and highly intriguing for me. There have been frequent demonstrations close by, including in Delft. Here, I see the struggle far from its origin, but still "up-close" in a way, including: the ongoing difficulty for Iranian expats to reconcile their national pride with the grave injustices that they see done to their countrymen; their yearning for freedom and desire to support its cause while cautiously clinging to the ideal of a safe and prosperous life in Iran even under the current regime; and of course the contention between religious moderation and Islamic fundamentalism, which is at the core of conflicts far beyond just those within the Islamic Republic itself.

Yesterday in Amsterdam there was another such demonstration. There is nothing particularly exceptional about this one (which I happened upon through CNN's iReport), but it does show that there are still large numbers of Iranian expats attempting to do the work for their countrymen here - in a free country - where their voices will not be silenced.

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