Video: Iranian thugs beat protester to death in broad daylight

There’s no official confirmation that he died but that’s the word on the street. Best-case scenario is that they “merely” beat him into unconsciousness. Rather than give you just the video of the beating, though, I’m embedding a kaleidoscope of 14 clips put together by to show you how widespread and violent the protests already are. If you can’t spare a few minutes to watch them all, at least watch the first three plus the seventh, where you’ll find the Basij — essentially Iran’s answer to the Nazi SA — riding by on motorcycles with batons and taking swings at anyone wearing green to indicate support for Mousavi. I’ve read multiple tweets from Iranians today claiming that some of these goons have been heard speaking Arabic, not Farsi, suggesting that they’re actually Hezbollah troops shipped in from Lebanon to help with the crackdown. Whether that’s true or just a rationalization by Iranian students who don’t want to believe their own countrymen would side with the regime against the people, I don’t know.

Mousavi hasn’t been seen since the election, by the way. Is he dead? In prison? Or, as another hot rumor has it, is he meeting with Khatami and Rafsanjani to form a united “reformist” front? Khatami was president for eight years before Ahmadinejad; Rafsanjani is currently head of the Assembly of Experts, Iran’s equivalent of the College of Cardinals. If they align with Mousavi and recruit some of the country’s other leading ayatollahs to their cause, government officials will be forced to take sides and the regime will crack wide open. No wonder they’re in such a hurry to arrest opposition leaders. Meanwhile, after devoting a few hard hours of thought to it since my last post, I’m more puzzled than ever as to why Khamenei would side with Ahmadinejad by endorsing such patently fraudulent results. How does the benefit to him outweigh the cost? Even if he’s worried about Mousavi using the presidency to liberalize Iran, he’d be in a much better position to stop him down the road by leveraging his legitimacy as supreme leader. That’s gone now. And not only is it gone, he chose to throw it away by antagonizing Iran’s youth at a moment when their political consciousness is higher than it’s ever been — after an historic campaign, replete with the country’s first televised presidential debate, and in the midst of a standoff with the whole world over Iran’s nuclear program. It’s insane — especially if, as Time claims, Khamenei is “addicted to the perception of legitimacy for himself and the system.” Either he’s lost his marbles or somebody forced his hand. But who?