On the front page of the Sunday Globe, Stockman explores Sharp's impact in Iran, where a number of activists have read and cite his thinking as they challenge the authority of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The Iranian government has in turn named Sharp in indictments of more than 100 activists -- and views him as the epicenter of a conspiracy by the West to undermine the Islamic revolution. In the eyes of many Iranian specialists, that's a sign of the government's paranoia about Western conspiracies, and a convenient excuse for dismissing the popular protests.
Stockman takes note of Sharp's impact far beyond Iran. His thinking on how people can challenge dictatorships -- and his premise that power is not monolithic, and depends on cooperation from the citizenry -- has been invoked by protest movements for more than 40 years. And throughout that time, he has been condemned by repressive governments.
The former Harvard researcher runs the little-known Albert Einstein Institution, "which dedicates itself to researching nonviolent activism out of a two-room office near a bodega in Maverick Square. It doesn't look like the nerve-center of a US-funded coup. He has one assistant, three computers, a teapot, and a dog. Its two rooms are crammed with old boxes, books about Mahatma Gandhi, and a giant, empty aquarium..."
At least 4,000 people have been detained in Iran since the disputed presidential election last summer, and many are still in custody. Other foreign academics have also been accused by the Iranian government of fomenting violent dissent, including John Palfrey and Ethan Zuckerman of Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, apparently because a now-detained Iranian blogger attended one of their conferences. Stockman also notes that Gary Sick, a Columbia University professor, was named in the sentencing hearing of an Iranian-American associate.
About this blog
About James F. SmithJim Smith came home to his native Boston in 2002 to become the Boston Globe's foreign editor after spending 22 years abroad. He was previously based in Buenos Aires and Mexico City for the LA Times, and in Johannesburg, Tokyo and The Hague for the AP. In 2007 he became the Globe's national political editor, coordinating presidential campaign coverage. He is a Yale graduate, and has an MBA. He is married to Maxine Hart and has two sons, Matthew and Daniel.
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