Stanford University added to Iran's 'enemies' list

January 4, 2010 7:06:45 PM PST
Stanford University is the latest addition to Iran's enemies list. Following last week's violent protests in Iran, the government there is striking out at its critics both in and outside of the country.

Professor Abbas Milani says the government of Iran is losing its grip. Recent protests in Tehran show the pro-democracy movement is still very active and it is sparking support here in the United States.

A large crowd of pro-democracy supporters took to the streets Sunday, not in Tehran, but in Denver, Colorado.

"There are demonstrations being organized all across the United States and in fact, all across Europe," Milani said.

Milani says the government in Tehran tried to suppress reports of the Dec. 27 demonstrations in Tehran, but cell phone videos of the protests and the government's crackdown are all over the Internet and support for the pro-democracy movement is growing.

"And with every passing day the regime does something more stupid and more brutal and gets more people involved outside," he said.

One of the scenes coming out of Iran shows police van running over a man. Iranian authorities say the van was stolen and they have posted pictures of the protest organizers asking Iranians to help identify the instigators.

"They describe the demonstrators as anarchists and as agents of foreign countries," Jamal Dajani said. Dajani monitors Middle Eastern news broadcasts for San Francisco based Link TV.

"In essence Iran has lost its cachet," he said.

Dajani says Middle Eastern news broadcasts are covering the Iranian protests and the government crackdown and the government is losing support.

"And the more they try to deal with it, the more mistakes they make," he said.

But if the Internet is helping to spread support for Iran's pro-democracy movement, it is also putting a lid on some of that support.

At one Iranian American market in the Bay Area the owner asked ABC7 not to identify him or his business for fear that government officials in Tehran might retaliate against family and friends still in Iran.

"That, I think, speaks a great deal to the level of fear the regime is trying to create," Milani said.

Milani says it is an understandable fear, but increasingly unjustified. He says the government in Tehran has much bigger problems, namely the growing number of dissidents inside its own borders.