A Critical Weekend In Iran

It's seasonally quiet in the West, but in Iran, this weekend could be the most important since the June Revolution began. It's Ashura, the mourning festival that begins today and culminates tomorrow. Ashura symbolizes resistance to oppression to the last drop, and because Shia Islam identifies with the oppressed in that story, any government brutality in these days could be a p.r. disaster for the coup regime.

Already there are reports of intense street fights as the Baseej try to prevent any attempt to begin the momentum for demonstrations. Tomorrow, there will be massive crowds on the streets which the legitimate government of Mousavi, Karroubi and their followers will attempt to coopt. Here's a helpful BBC primer on what lies ahead:

Via Iran Unfiltered, a scene of a sudden eruption of protest and chanting from today:

Iran Unfiltered explains the chants:

A note about the protesters' slogans: in one video, the people are chanting "Muawiyah, be ashamed / Abandon your rule." Muawiyah, the first caliph of the Ummayad dynasty, is a hated figure in the Shia world. He is not only hated for his own battle against Imam Ali (the first Imam of the Shia world), but also because he is father to Yazid, the villain of the Shias' narrative of Ashura. The chant obviously compares Khamenei and Ahmadinejad to Muawiyah. In another video, they chant "This is the month of blood / Yazid is overthrown." As mentioned, Yazid is the caliph reviled by Shias for his role in Hossein's death.

More videos here. The Dish will be following tomorrow's critical events very closely. Ayatollah Khomeini cited Ashura as the real spark for the revolution that brought down the Shah.