Will Iran See A 'Wave Of Protests' Like Egypt's? Probably Not, Reporter Says

February 15, 2011

Mark Memmott

The world has watched as demonstrations toppled governments in Tunisia and Egypt in recent weeks, and then as thousands of anti-government protesters returned to the streets in Tehran on Monday.

But is it likely there will be "a wave of protests" in Iran like those that happened elsewhere? That question is on a lot of minds.

Thomas Erdbrink, a correspondent for The Washington Post who has lived in Tehran for eight years, told All Things Considered co-host Melissa Block earlier today that the answer is probably no.

First, he says, as the Iranian government showed during the protests after its disputed presidential election in 2009, it is willing to crack down hard on demonstrators, who it contends are being manipulated by outside forces.

And second, the anti-government groups in Iran have developed a different strategy from those who led the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. In Iran, in large part to cut down the chances of being arrested or attacked by authorities, the protesters have chosen to come out on days when the government had already approved mass gatherings of some type (for example, on the anniversary of the shah's downfall).

So, "I don't expect to see a wave of protests," Erdbrink said.

He added, though, that if Iranian opposition leaders are arrested that might serve as the spark for demonstrations. And, as was reported earlier today, some "hardline Iranian lawmakers" have called for opposition leaders "to face trial and be put to death."

Here is part of Melissa's conversation with Erdbrink:

We'll add the as-aired version of their interview to this post later this evening. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.