Først stemte iranerne med stemmeseddelen, og det skremte vannet av regimet da de så resultatet. Nå må de stemme med kroppen – i gatene, hvis de skal forsvare sin stemme.

But now, having voted with their ballots, Iranians who want a change will have to vote again with their bodies. A regime like Iran’s can only be brought down or changed if enough Iranians vote as they did in 1979 — in the street. That is what the regime fears most, because then it either has to shoot its own people or cede power. That is why it was no accident that the «supreme leader,» Ayatollah Khamenei, warned protestors in his Friday speech that «street challenge is not acceptable.» That’s a man who knows how he got his job.

And so the gauntlet is now thrown down. If the reformers want change, they are going to have to form a leadership, lay out their vision for Iran and keep voting in the streets — over and over and over. Only if they keep showing up with their bodies, and by so doing saying to their regime «we cannot be bought and we will not be cowed,» will their ballots be made to count.

I am rooting for them and fearing for them. Any real moderation of Iran’s leadership would have a hugely positive effect on the Middle East. But we and the reformers must have no illusions about the bullets and barrels they are up against.

Thomas L. Friedman

Bullets and Barrels