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An illuminating dispatch published by Tehran Bureau:

The past seven days have passed like seven years. I have a beard now; we all have. My skin is burned; so is the skin of all the others. What we're receiving is a mix of political and religious indoctrination with basic military training. There is no talk of military tactics, just simple facts such as how to use light weapons and so on, but the indoctrination is serious. Most of the time is spent talking about the enemies of religion and the state — everything from the Fetne 88 (the so-called "sedition" following the disputed election in 2009) to the Baha'is. A very simplistic attempt at brainwashing is going on.

They try to convince us that all is well and that the events of recent years have all been a conspiracy by the West; the same worn-out rhetoric that you hear from every propaganda outlet of the regime. The theory classes, however, are a hoot. Most of the time we are napping or chatting and despite all the threats of punishment, nobody really listens. When we do tune in, it's sort of light entertainment. You hear medieval ideas being explained by someone who really believes in them, some notions so outrageous that it is very hard to imagine anyone really giving them credence.

(Photo: Iran's Revolutionary Guards attend Friday prayers at Tehran University on September 19, 2003 in Tehran, Iran. By Scott Peterson/Getty Images)