Monday, June 22, 2009

Bob Dylan in Tehran

These photographs of demonstrators in Imam Khomeini square, Tehran, were taken by Saeed Kamali Dehghan and appeared the British newspaper, The Guardian. The entire set of thirteen can be seen here.

Iran represents maybe the greatest "what if" in the history of US foreign policy. Documents declassified in the 1990s provided the details to the 1953 CIA-engineered coup that deposed the democratically-elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq in response to his nationalizing Iran's oil industry which had been completely controlled by British petroleum. You can read the details here.

It's that last photo that caught my attention; Bob Dylan's lyric from "Knocking On Heaven's Door" held up by an Iranian protester in 2009. But it isn't the song that comes to mind when I look through the images emerging from Tehran.

Ring them bells, ye heathen
From the city that dreams,
Ring them bells from the sanctuaries
Cross the valleys and streams,
For they're deep and they're wide
And the world's on its side
And time is running backwards
And so is the bride.

Ring them bells St. Peter
Where the four winds blow,
Ring them bells with an iron hand
So the people will know.
Oh it's rush hour now
On the wheel and the plow
And the sun is going down
Upon the sacred cow.

Ring them bells Sweet Martha,
For the poor man's son,
Ring them bells so the world will know
That God is one.
Oh the shepherd is asleep
Where the willows weep
And the mountains are filled
With lost sheep.

Ring them bells for the blind and the deaf,
Ring them bells for all of us who are left,
Ring them bells for the chosen few
Who will judge the many when the game is through.
Ring them bells, for the time that flies,
For the child that cries
When innocence dies.

Ring them bells St. Catherine
From the top of the room,
Ring them from the fortress
For the lilies that bloom.
Oh the lines are long
And the fighting is strong
And they're breaking down the distance
Between right and wrong.

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