Pigs fly and al-AP publishes a good story on the recent clampdown on dissent in Iran. It’s written by one Michael Weissenstein. He contrasts Ahmadi-Nezhad’s promises of “total freedom” with the mass arrests of student demonstrators and women whose criminal activity consists of soliciting signatures on a petition that calls for women’s constitutional rights to be enforced. And then he quotes the regime’s apologists:
Restrictions in Iran are far from absolute. Iranians criticize the government in public, and ignore a wide array of social regulations at home.
Defenders of the system point out that is more open than many nations in the region, including some of America’s allies. And some restrictions have loosened in recent months: two reformist newspapers have been allowed to publish again.
All of which is true. But he could have pointed out that this is the way a regime behaves when it knows that most of its subjects hate it. So the mullahs walk a narrow path, trying to use enough terror to deter the big acts of protest that will bring it down, and grant a small quantum of freedom to trick the gullible and also identify their most dangerous enemies.