-- Leili Sreberny-Mohammadi is a British-Iranian based in London, and sometimes Tehran. The opinions expressed are her own. --
The images of a human chain along the 12 kilometres of Tehran’s main artery, Vali-Asr, has given me a gut-wrenching urge to book a flight to Tehran, to take part in what seems to be a historical moment, or what is at least being constructed as such.
Instead I have been busy scouring articles in English-language media describing the public mobilisation for the two leading candidates, Mir Hossein Moussavi and the incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as the largest political mobilisation of the public since the revolution in 1979. I wasn’t there then. The electric energy coursing through the city has also been likened to the atmosphere during the world cup in 1998. Nope, wasn’t there then either.
This is the predicament of Diaspora; caring about a place that you might rarely be in, wanting to understand events that you are miles apart from. But in 2009, it is easy to keep up with far away events by the magical means of the internet.
My constant online status has meant that Facebook, YouTube and Skype have been key ways in which I have kept in touch with what has been happening. Facebook provides a dominant source of photos, videos and links, plus nightly Skype chats with friends and family has helped me to understand what the opinions and atmosphere on the street is really like. Not able to watch the first ever televised debates between candidates live, YouTube has been the next best thing.