Copyright ©2010 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.


Iran's Twitter revolution has come to Paris. The media were largely banned from covering the protests alleging fraud in the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iranians overcame that ban on reporting by using their cell phones and social networking websites, such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Eleanor Beardsley has this report on the art that came out of it, now at a gallery in Paris.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: The exhibit's organizers viewed thousands of Internet videos before making the selection to display in this gallery off of Paris's busy Rue de Rivoli. The group calls itself the Green Ribbon, after the symbol of Iran's opposition movement. It is made up of Iranians living in France as well as some French artists. They came together after last year's election to support Iranian artists.

Orash is one of the Green Ribbon's leaders. He came to Paris from Iran a year and a half ago. He doesn't want to give his last name in case he returns, and out of solidarity with the exhibit's anonymous video artists. Orash says last year's demonstrations ended the isolation of millions of Iranians.

ORASH (Artist): Personally, myself, I thought that, well, I don't want this regime, but I am the only one. It's no good to shout, it's no good to write, to create. But after this event, I saw that millions and millions and millions of peoples are thinking the same way. So it gave new hope for Iranians all over the world, and it's created a solidarity beyond imagination.

(Soundbite of video)

BEARDSLEY: Scenes of violence play out on TV screens all over the gallery as black-clad Basiji militia beat people and chase crowds of young people through the streets. French subtitles translate some of the conversations of those filming. They look just like the Gestapo, says one witness.

Scottish visitor Stephen Riley says he's seeing this footage for the first time.

Mr. STEPHEN RILEY: The contrast between the physical arms of the militia and communication arms of the protesters, which seems to amount to mobile phones and cameras, is quite a striking paradox.

BEARDSLEY: Riley is with his friend, a 50-year-old Iranian who calls herself Aryan H., because she also fears giving her last name. Aryan H. has lived in Paris for 20 years. In 1979, she demonstrated to overthrow the shah and bring in Ayatollah Khomeini. She says many young people still blame her generation for that mistake.

ARYAN H.: My generation, we were very ashamed, because it was our fault what's happened to them.

BEARDSLEY: The latest demonstrations have helped bring the two generations back together, says Aryan H.

(Soundbite of crowd chatter)

BEARDSLEY: The exhibit has become a gathering point for Paris' Iranian community, and expats converse in Farsi on the sidewalk out front.

In the gallery's tall windows hang giant reproductions of some of the Twitter messages sent during the protests. It's getting harder to log onto the Net, reads one. Our phone line was cut and we lost Internet, says another.

(Soundbite of video)

BEARDSLEY: In the gallery's top floor, it is pitch dark except for some tiny electric candles placed around the floor. The room is filled with the sound of people chanting Allah-u-Akbar, or God is greatest, from the rooftops of Tehran.

A 27-year-old Green Ribbon member who also wants to remain anonymous says this chanting went on every night for more than six months after the election, turning what was once a mantra of the Islamic revolution into a protest call. She says the nightly ritual brought people closer.

Unidentified Woman (Green Ribbon Member): They went to the top of their house or behind their window, and they say Allah-u-Akbar, and in front of your house there's another house, and there's someone there who says Allah-u-Akbar, and they know each other after, you know, after one month. And it's so kind.

BEARDSLEY: These young Iranians say they believe it is only a matter of time before the movement that began last summer leads to real change in Iran.

For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: