David Calling

Every Eight Hours

Fifty-seven people have been executed already this year in Iran. That means the ayatollahs are hanging someone every eight hours. Last year they executed at least 180 people, a total they will surpass in a matter of weeks at the present rate. Most of the victims are hanged in public and there are sickening photographs of bodies on the gallows with a watchful crowd standing back a bit. The idea of course is to intimidate those bystanders, and it must work up to the point when they can take no more of it, and revolt. But what is this need to intimidate? That ghastly statistic of 57 hanged can only mean that the ayatollahs are terrified of a Tunisian-style uprising, an equivalent surge of popular rage which ends in regime change. The Tunisian dictator Zine Ben Ali is a Sunni and therefore welcome in Sunni Saudi Arabia, but the ayatollahs are Shia and there is no other Shia country to which they can flee. Repression is their last resort.


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