It is surely a wise move by the opposition to leave the streets to the regime on this religious day. Let the basij have their show of strength, courtesy of every bus they can lay their hands on. This from the BBC’s John Leyne: “The government needs to turn out as many people as possible – to show they can rally as many supporters as the opposition – so they’ve been putting out appeals on state media constantly, offering free transport, calling on people to turn up, not just to Friday prayers but to an “anti-riot rally”, as they describe it.”
Let Khamanei have his word, let him demand national unity, let him issue any threats. If he does, one might argue that he has not heard of the expression about digging holes.
Then we will see if the rooftops again echo to the chants of Allah-o Akhbar tonight and the “sea of green” returns to the streets on Saturday as predicted.
But if the protest movement is not cowed by today’s events, one might expect it to imitate the 1978 prtotests in another vital manner – by hitting the economy. Ministries, banks, the bazaar- even newspapers – all periodically closed in protest during the revolution. Then of course, the revolutionaries began turning off the taps in the oilfields. It was a vital, if not decisive factor in the revolution’s success.
There were hints of it on Thursday with reports on Twitter that Iran Khodro, biggest car maker in the Middle East and one-time manufacturer of the infamous Paykan , had been hit by a strike. In the end these appear to have come to nothing, but it would be a logical next step in the effort to shift the balance in Iran.
It would not be easy. Strikers would be laying themselves open to an unwelcome knock on the door. It might well be a question of momentum. But it would also again be a decisive way of demonstrating the depth of support the opposition has.
PS: if you want to watch today’s Friday prayers in Tehran it is being broadcast live on Press TV, the English language arm of the state broadcaster.