Two Georgetown grad students, Justin McMahan and Andrea Iraheta, have been traveling through the Middle East and keeping a blog, Dispatches from the Region, about their journey. Things were going well, and “Dispatches from the Reason” seemed like your run-of-the-mill travel blog with a slight political bent, with posts about them enjoying Istanbul, witnessing an election in Beirut, et cetra. But then the couple ended up in Tehran during the Iranian election and its resultant chaos.
On June 11th, a day before the election, they wrote and oddly prescient post entitled “Something big may be about to ‘Pop’“. Two days later, they wrote that they could see plumes of black smoke and protesters. Later that day, they wrote:
Just outside of our hotel, supporters of former PM Mousavi set fires and broke windows in protest of the results of yesterday’s election. Motorcycles race up and down the street as protesters play a game of cat and mouse with security officials. Smoke is everywhere. Protesters have broken windows of the Bank of Tehran across the street …
Just within the past hour, when we try to access social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, a message in Farsi indicates that the sites are no longer accessible. Cell phone access seems to have been shut down throughout the entire city.
They were also able to get a 30 second video of the scene outside their hotel.
After a brief trip to Shiraz, a city in southwest Iran, they returned to Tehran and witnessed the crackdown in full effect, writing, “[P]olice employed water canons, tear gas and batons to break up the rally.”
The couple is now in Cairo and were recently interviewed on Good Morning America Weekend about their experiences.