The power of texting as a means of organizing the opposition was displayed during a popular sports show called Navad (Ninety) last week in Iran. Though the show mainly deals with analyzing and covering the Premier League and following the Iranian National soccer team, it has recently become very political.
As NBC rearranges talk shows due to economic reasons, IRIB has moved around the time slot for Navad because of political reasons. Adel Ferdosipour, a graduate from Sharif University, is the show’s host and has been critical to Navad’s rise in popularity. Though the government would probably prefer to cancel the show, they would run the risk of galvanizing the opposition, so they have moved the show back from its original time of 8:00pm to 11:00 pm.
Despite the move, viewers are still eagerly tuning in. Just last week, Ferdosipour asked his viewers to text their answer to the question, “What’s the reason for the Iranian national team’s latest losses?”
- The players
- The staff & coaches
- The departure of the Golden Players
The Golden Players means the old school players who led the team to the World Cup back in 2006. But more importantly it refers to players such as Ali Karimi and Mehdi Mahdavikia and two others who were kicked off the team and forced to retire after wearing green wrist bands in protest of the June Presidential elections.
The show was inundated with texts choosing #3 as they continued to received texts into the wee hours of the morning. The response echoes sentiments after Iran’s failure to qualify for the World Cup where many saw the team’s failure as a reflection of the Ahmadinejad –led government.
To keep up the momentum of the text-organizing, the latest Green Movement has called for a Sokoot-e-Sabz, a day of Green Silence, from 7 am to 8 pm. Though I initially asked myself, “what use is it to be quiet for 12 hours? Wouldn’t that be the opposite of civil disobedience?” But the opposition is using this lull in the protests to keep in touch with their base. It’s also an attack on media and cell phone companies who have been colluding with the government to monitor communications among the opposition.
As one young protesters told me, “It’s a small sacrifice and I hope my friends will notice and ask me ‘Hey, why was your phone off?’ and I’ll tell them, ‘Oh you didn’t hear, it was the Green Silence!’”