The night before a protest is an anxious one, and most of the restlessness is over one question: will they be there? There are long stretches of time between protests now and getting cold is always a concern. So naturally, the conversations tonight hovered around guessing whether the greens will take over tomorrow.
Grassroots campaigning for the rally has been strong again, as it was for Qods Day, but there have been plenty of threats against participating over the last few days as well. While we have witnessed the customary chest thumping by the IRGC and other security forces, a couple of friends said they received strange phone calls supposedly from the Intelligence Ministry today, trying to scare them off. They were told that the Ministry has evidence that they have been manipulated by foreign media and they were put under surveillance. So we have a new term now: PUI, or Protesting Under The Influence. None of these were the real sources of worry over tomorrow though.
As I am writing this, it is still raining, and although rain is always welcome in Tehran, we wish it gone by tomorrow. That is worry number one. As for number two, tomorrow is a weekday and many do not have the option of ditching work. I found myself yelling at a friend who had scheduled a meeting with a client tomorrow morning. How irresponsible. And worry number three is that the protest is in the morning, which will require many calls to all the slothful to get them out of bed. Other than that, we should be in tiptop shape.
While I sat around thinking that a little boost in morale wouldn’t hurt, the rallying call came. The soothing sound of Allah-o-Akbar was far but strong. We haven’t heard any Allah-o-Akbar since over a month ago, and only get reports about occasional pockets of chanting, mostly from the university dorms. I opened the window and in a few minutes our neighborhood was drowning out the engines from the traffic in the main street. If my lazy neighborhood is like this, it means the entire city was shouting.
A young man started to chant from the building next door, and I returned the favor by yelling through the open window. We went on for ten minutes. I was out of practice, my throat was burning and I kept coughing. I was louder than him. He had more stamina. At the end of the session, he yelled a “mersi” at me. “At your service”. “Don’t forget tomorrow”.