Neither theocracy nor secularism?

by Ali Alizadeh

On Saturday 13 June this year, hours after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Ministry of the Interior announced his landslide victory as Iran’s president and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the religious head of state, prematurely and unconstitutionally embraced these results, Tehran and several other major cities became the stage for spontaneous, sporadic and widespread protests. Despite the government’s arrest of most senior opposition figures, campaign activists and journalists, the shutting down of mass communications, and the presence on the streets of factions of armed forces, in less than forty-eight hours these anomalous expressions of frustration evolved into a series of highly disciplined and mainly self-organized mass rallies known as the Green Movement. On Monday 15 June, up to 3 million people marched, and hundreds of thousands participated in silent demonstrations over the next three days. In the sermon of the Friday prayer on 19 June, Khamenei once again confirmed the election results, endorsed Ahmadinejad for having policies close to his own, associated the protestors with foreign meddlers and warned of violent consequences. These warnings were realized in the next day’s protests: tens were killed and hundreds arrested and kidnapped in Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan. more

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